Switch Your Energy Supplier in the UK
According to the Money Advice Service, the average gas and electric bill in the UK comes in at a whopping £1,254, but did you know that switching gas and electricity supplier could reduce energy bills by up to £679?
Bobatoo will explain everything you need to know in this complete guide to switching your energy supplier.
How to switch energy supplier...
Energy bills are the number one concern for consumers, but there are easy savings to be made by regularly comparing deals online and switching to the one that suits you, and your budget, the best.
One of the main barriers preventing many homeowners and tenants from switching their energy provider is that they think the process is too complicated - but these days, it is becoming more and more simple and hassle-free to change your gas and/or electric supplier.
To switch your energy supplier, you will need the following information:
- Your postcode.
- The name of your current gas and electricity supplier, and the name of the tariff you are on (look at your latest bill or contact your supplier).
- How much you currently spend (or use in kilowatt hours - kWh) on gas and electricity. This will be on a recent bill from your supplier.
- An up-to-date meter reading.
- Your Meter Point Access Number (or ‘MPAN’) and Meter Point Reference Number (or ‘MPRN’) - these should also be on a recent bill.
- Your bank details if you wish to switch provider and set up a direct debit.
If you don't have any of the above information, you can still switch. All you need to do is select the option 'don't know' on the relevant parts of the comparison tool. However, it is recommended that you have all of the details available to ensure you get the most accurate quotes and deals.
"Further home energy savings can be made by ensuring your home is as energy efficient as possible."
Read Bobatoo's 9 quick and easy tips on reducing energy bills to find out how you can cut down on your gas bill and reduce electricity consumption at home in the UK.
Look After My Bills (LAMB) – The UK’s best energy switching service
Take the hassle out of switching energy supplier in the UK by signing up to Look After My Bills. It’s free of charge with no strings attached.
What is Look After My Bills? It is an auto-switching energy site which works with the best gas and electricity providers in the UK to get you the best possible deal.
Look After My Bills’ reviews are excellent, both from customers and Bobatoo! You can read Bobatoo's Look After My Bills review here.
When is the best time to switch gas and electric supplier?
UK energy suppliers change their tariffs regularly and are always adding new deals and price packages, so it's not always easy to know when the best time to switch energy supplier is.
Bobatoo recommends that, as a general rule, you should be looking to compare prices every six months or so to make sure you are up-to-date with the cheapest deal possible.
If you don’t have the time to check regularly, you should also consider switching when:
You haven’t switched provider for a while
Ask yourself when the last time you changed your home energy provider was. If the answer is 'never', then you will almost certainly find a better deal by comparing and switching suppliers immediately.
Usually, energy tariffs don't last more than 12 months - so when that time is up, your supplier will probably automatically place you on their standard tariff. As you can probably guess, the 'standard' tariff is often one of their most expensive - so if you are on a standard tariff, you should be looking to switch.
If you have switched previously, but not in the last 12 months or so, then it is definitely worth comparing tariffs as your original one could have lapsed into the standard tariff by now.
The good news is that switching is a very simple and straightforward process nowadays, and it should take less than 10 minutes.
Either sign up to Look After My Bills or visit an online price comparison website to get the best deal.
When prices go up
Another good time to compare and switch energy suppliers is when prices are expected to rise. Typically, when one of the main UK energy providers announces a price increase, the whole market tends to follow suit.
When a wholesale energy price rise is announced, it is a great time to check the market and see if you can switch to a cheaper 'fixed rate' tariff before the price rise takes effect. The trick here is to be quick, as providers tend to have a set number of 'pre-price-rise' fixed rate tariffs available - effectively limiting the amount of customers who can take advantage before the cost goes up.
Before winter comes
We all use a lot more gas and electricity in the winter months, so it stands to reason that a good time to switch is before that extra usage really begins.
For more information on how to save money on your energy bills when the cold weather kicks in, read Bobatoo’s guide here.
When you move home
It’s no secret that moving home is stressful – so stressful that you probably won’t realise the increased cost of gas and electricity.
Your new home may not be as energy-efficient as your old one, while your UK energy supplier might put you onto a pricier tariff when you change your address, making it a great time to switch.
Read Bobatoo’s guide to saving money on energy bills when you move home to find out more.
When your current deal expires
It's now a legal requirement for all energy tariffs (except the standard ones) to have a specified 'end date', so it is essential that you take note of when yours expires and then look to switch to the next best deal.
Most tariffs are set to run for 12 months, so bear that in mind and don't necessarily expect your current supplier to keep you notified of when it is set to expire. You have to be proactive and take control to avoid paying more than is necessary on your home energy bills.
You are free to begin arranging a new energy contract when your 'switching window' opens - which should be 49 days before the stated end date of your current tariff. By sticking to this, you will not incur any cancellation fees by signing up for a new energy contract during your switching window.
Even if you don't want to switch provider (i.e. your current supplier offers great customer service), then you should still give them a call towards the end of your contract to see if they can offer you a better deal.
Energy tariffs explained
When you begin to look more closely at energy deals and all the different tariffs that are available, it can start to get a bit confusing. Below, Bobatoo’s put together a quick guide that explains all of the most common tariffs and what they actually mean:
Standard (or variable) tariff
The dreaded 'standard' tariff that UK energy suppliers like to move you to after your initial deal has expired. These are also known as 'variable' tariffs as the prices can go up or down.
They are flexible because they tend to be the energy supplier's 'default' pricing plan, which fluctuates depending on wholesale prices, interest rates and so on, and they usually do not have any exit or cancellation fees associated with them - so you can switch whenever you want.
As the name suggests, a fixed rate tariff means you pay a fixed rate for your energy for the stated length of the contract (usually 12 months but some can run to 18 months). Once this period is up you are free to switch to a cheaper deal again.
If you choose to leave before this though, you will probably have to pay a cancellation fee.
The cost of exiting or cancelling an energy contract differs depending on the supplier, with some costing as low as £10 and others costing upwards of £100 - so be sure to check this before switching.
This tariff means your energy price will be capped at a certain point and will not exceed the agreed amount. The price you pay can go down as well as up, but never beyond the pre-agreed limit.
These tariffs might be for you if you like a certain level of stability and to know the maximum amount you could be billed, but the downside is that you probably will not be getting the cheapest energy price on a capped tariff and you will also more than likely have to pay a cancellation fee to switch early.
Dual fuel tariff
On a dual fuel tariff you will get both your gas and your electricity from the same supplier, which can make things a lot simpler and easier to organise. You will likely also benefit from some attractive price deals as well as many suppliers offering discounts and incentives to get you to double your custom with them.
Don't get too blinded by what may look like enticing deals though, as you could still save more if you got separate tariffs for your gas and electric - so it's always worth comparing what's available before committing to anything.
You can switch dual fuel contracts easily with Look After My Bills, who will scour the market for a deal which suits you.
More and more energy providers are offering tariffs that cut out any unnecessary post and phone calls by allowing customers to deal with everything online.
Online tariffs tend to be the cheapest option - mostly because they mean less overheads for the supplier - but it does mean everything will be online, i.e. all your billing documents and other correspondence.
For those who want to do their bit for the environment, green tariffs can offer a variety of options. One popular option is for the supplier to 'give back' whatever amount of energy you use to the National Grid as renewable energy.
Another option is that the provider can supply your home with renewable energy, or a certain percentage of renewable energy, or may use some of your payments to contribute to environmental projects.
Green tariffs aren't necessarily the most expensive options, but they will almost certainly not be the cheapest – however, there is a chance that you could save up to £270 a year by switching to a green tariff. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint, they can be a great option.
Economy 7, Economy 10, or time of use tariff
With both Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs, you’ll usually get cheaper ‘off peak’ energy for either seven or ten hours a day - depending on the package you choose. The Economy 7 package typically has its off peak hours between midnight and 7am, whereas Economy 10 packages spread the cheapest hours throughout the day at set times.
Off peak energy can be cheap and you’ll also get a special meter to monitor rates, but whatever energy you use outside of the off-peak times will be charged at a much higher cost - so proceed with caution.
This is the home energy equivalent of a pay-as-you-go phone, you’ll be fitted with a pre-payment meter and you will need to pay for the energy before you use it by topping up the meter online, with a key, card or tokens - depending on your supplier. It’s usually the most expensive way to pay for your energy, but it does give you total control over what you’re using and spending.
This is when energy suppliers pay you for producing your own energy, whether it’s from solar panels or wind turbines.
Being paid to generate your own energy is great, but you’ll need to buy and fit the appropriate equipment, which can be costly.
Getting the cheapest deal on energy
Now you know how to switch energy suppliers, why not put your new-found knowledge into action by getting yourself a cheaper deal on your gas and electricity bills.
Visit Look After My Bills to be automatically switched to the cheapest energy tariff or shop around yourself using an online price comparison website like GoCompare or MoneySupermarket.