Energy saving advice and grants
Switch energy supplier
Switching energy suppliers or tariffs can be one of the most effective ways to save money on your energy bills, by ensuring you are on a tariff that suits you best.
Here are some helpful tips and important things to think about when you are considering switching suppliers of electricity or gas.
Know how much energy you use
Have an idea of how much energy you use to make sure the comparison you make is accurate. You can find this out by looking at your most recent energy bill. You can also contact your energy supplier and request an annual statement through the post. The best figure to use is your annual kWh consumption, this should be on your most recent bill, otherwise your current supplier should be able to give you this figure over the phone.
Know your postcode and name of current tariff
This allows suppliers or comparison sites to assess your supply area. You will also be asked to provide the name of your current tariff to make sure the comparison you make is accurate.
How do you currently pay?
How you pay is of importance. For example, if you use a pre-payment meter then you can only apply for a pre-payment tariff. Remember, paying by direct debit is usually the most cost-effective method (but may not be suitable for everyone). It can sometimes be cheaper if you arrange to manage your bills online.
Check for any extra or hidden charges
Some suppliers may add a standing charge to your bill (this is the cost of supplying an electricity or fuel supply to your home). This should be made clear. Where a standing charge is not included you may be asked to pay a higher unit price for a set number of units before receiving a lower unit price thereafter.
Which tariff suits you most?
You should be given a choice between variable or fixed tariffs. On a variable tariff your bills could go up or down in line with energy prices. Late last year when all the major six suppliers announced energy bill rises, those on variable tariffs would have noticed a change on their bill.
If you're on a fixed rate tariff, your price per unit for gas and electricity is locked for a set period. This can be a good way to defend yourself against price hikes, but it could leave you paying more if there were significant price cuts or you may pay more in the short-term.
Different tariff types suit different people.
Check for penalty charges
Make sure you check to see whether your current tariff has penalty charges for leaving. This is particularly common on fixed tariffs and you may be required to pay a fee for leaving a tariff. Check with your supplier.
Thinking of using a comparison site?
If you want to use a comparison site to check tariffs and options, make sure you use one of those listed below. That's because these sites meet Ofgem's Code of Confidence, which ensures you get all the correct information and no nasty surprises.
- Energy Helpline
- Money Supermarket
- My Utility Genius
- The Energy Shop
- Simply Switch
- UK Power
- Switch gas and electric
- Unravel it
- Quote zone
How often can I switch?
If you are not on a fixed tariff you are free to switch as much as you like.
Can everyone save by switching?
Some people may already be on the best and/or most suitable tariff for them, and so they may not benefit from switching.
Can I get gas and electricity from one supplier?
Yes, and in some cases you will earn a Dual Fuel discount for doing so.
Will my supply be disrupted?
No. There will be no disruption to your energy supply and no physical work will be involved.
How long does it take to switch?
From the date you apply, a switch takes between four and six weeks. The government is working to halve this.
What is Economy 7?
Economy 7 is a tariff that includes a day and a night rate. For a seven-hour period overnight you pay a lower rate for your electricity. Economy 7 is most suitable for use with overnight storage heaters. Switching to an Economy 7 tariff will require you to change meter, which you may be required to pay for.
Can I change my mind?
Yes. There should be a cooling off period of between 7 to 14 days (varies depending on suppliers). During this period you can change your mind without incurring a penalty. You can ask what the cooling off period is when discussing matters with your potential new supplier. If using a comparison site, details on cooling off periods should be listed on their website.
Do I need to tell my supplier I’m leaving?
No, your new supplier will contact your old supplier and inform them that you have switched.
Can I switch if I receive a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT)?
Yes. The six major energy suppliers are obliged to pay a Feed-in-Tariff if you generate electricity in your home (e.g. via solar panels). You do not need the same supplier as your electricity and/or gas to receive this Feed-in-Tariff and will continue to receive this following a switch in supplier. Whoever currently pays your FIT will continue to do so.
I rent my property, can I switch?
The only person that can switch is the one listed on the energy bills for the property. If you pay your landlord for electricity and or gas, you would have to ask them to switch (as they will be named on the bills). However, if the supply is in your name and you pay suppliers directly, you can switch. You should remember to check your rental agreement before switching.
What could prevent me from switching?
You may rent your home and not be responsible for paying the bills directly or your rent or lease agreement may prohibit changes with utility supply. If you have outstanding debt to your current supplier, your switch may well be delayed. Customers with a Green Deal Plan will be unable to switch to smaller suppliers at the present time, as some smaller suppliers may be unable to retrieve Green Deal repayments.
When will my new supplier contact me?
Usually within 7 to 14 days after you switch. If you don’t hear from them in this period you can contact them directly.
What if I switch and then my supplier changes prices?
Ofgem states that suppliers must notify customers of forthcoming price changes at least four weeks before the changes occur. However, if you switch to a variable tariff and the prices are then changed, the new prices will be reflected on your bill. This will not happen if you choose to switch to a fixed tariff in which you receive a price ‘locked in’ for the duration of your deal