Change energy supplier easily and still save money

Changing energy supplier can seem daunting if you've never done it before. Who do you go to? Who do you notify if you want to switch? How do you know which is the best energy company to switch too? How can I make sure things don't go wrong?

Thankfully it is now much easier to switch energy supplier and for domestic energy customers there is a lot more protection in place to ensure that your rights are protected.

Unfortunately energy suppliers have made the energy market seem complicated in order to prevent customers from switching. Energy companies would rather you stick with them so they can tell you that you are already on the best deal and then quite happily overcharge you.

Much has been written about big business and the way they mistreat loyal customers and suck in new customers on too cheap to be true deals knowing full well that loyal customers will stick around out of fear and inertia.

So what are the steps to enable you to get the best energy deal and to switch energy suppliers safely and without hassle?

I've put together this guide to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible in order for you to feel confident enough to switch from your overpriced gas and electricity tariff to a cheaper energy plan.

This guide is designed for those that have not switched energy suppliers in a while (at least a year) or who have switched before but didn't get as good a deal as they thought they had.

When should I change energy supplier?

For the switched on energy shopper there are some key times that you can switch suppliers and maximise your savings. For most UK households the timings of your switch are not going to make a significant difference to how much your savings will be but this information is still useful to know.

When energy suppliers start increasing prices

Energy suppliers seem to have a habit of increasing their prices at the same time. One or two suppliers will break rank and increase their prices and others will usually follow shortly after.

When you see news stories about energy price hikes then do an energy comparison. If your quick you can switch to on of the current cheaper deals before the suppliers withdraw them from the market and replace them with more expensive ones.

At Safe Energy Switch we constantly monitor energy companies and report on price changes as soon as they start to happen. If you want to stay in the know sign up to our cheap energy alert email and we will let you know when prices are changing and which are the current best deals.

Get £50 for Switching

Switch to Octopus Energy and get £50 credit when you switch.

Switch before winter

It's no coincidence that energy companies increase their prices as winter approaches. Most of you natural gas usage occurs over winter for gas central heating and household electricity consumption also goes up as we use our electrical devices more often such tumble dryers.

Switching before energy companies increase their tariff prices means that you will get a better deal to see you through the winter months.

Switch at the end of a fixed deal

If you've got yourself a great rate on a fixed deal but it is coming to an end it's important that you do not default onto your energy suppliers default, evergreen or standard variable tariff. These tariffs carry the highest unit costs and daily standing charge rates.

As an existing customer your current energy supplier may be able to offer you a good deal to stay with them but you will need to do a comparison of the energy market first so you can compare the deals from the whole of the market against what your energy supplier offers you.

How to change energy supplier

The steps are pretty simple and we'll go into more detail but to summarise. Firstly you compare energy prices using an energy price comparison tool, basically just a website that shows you how much energy companies are charging right now.

You pick a new energy supplier, preferably one that offers a good price and let the energy switching service do the switch for you.

Your switch takes around 17 to 21 days which includes a 14 day cooling off period in which you can change your mind.

The only thing you will have to do is provide a meter reading to your new supplier when they contact you.

That's it in a nutshell, not too complicated but we will go into a bit more detail for each step so you can get the most out of your switch.

Give it a go yourself and see which energy company currently has the best energy deal.

Switching doesn't cost you anything

The first thing to clear up is that it doesn't cost you anything to do an energy comparison to see how much you can save. It's totally free and using an energy comparison site means that they can handle the switching for you.

Online energy comparison services can provide this free service as they get paid a commission for switching you to a new supplier. There is no obligation to switch and you can do as many comparisons as you like although just one quick comparison will tell you which is the best energy tariff for you to switch to.

So it's a free tool to use and the best and easiest way to compare lots of prices from gas and electricity companies at once.

Comparing energy prices

A basic energy comparison just means that you compare the energy prices of lots of energy suppliers to see who is the cheapest. Energy companies prices are compared using the cost per kWh and daily standing charge. The lower the price charged the cheaper your bill will be.

Energy comparison services check the prices charged by UK energy companies every day. As they know how much every energy company charges they can compare this for you and tell you which ones are the cheapest and then handle the switch for you.

To get the most accurate comparison you need to give the energy comparison site a few details so they can compare the providers for your geographic area (yes prices vary by region in the UK).

The easiest way to get these details is to have a paper bill handy or if you have an online account you can view your latest bill or statement there.

To get the most accurate comparison you need to get this information from your bill.

  • Your kWh gas and electricity usage
  • The name of the tariff you are on

If you have very high energy usage (big bills) or unusually low energy usage (very small bills) then I'd recommend you find your kWh energy usage and tariff name from your bill as this will tell you exactly how much you will save by switching.

You can do a comparison without this information but you will not know how much you are likely to save by switching.

If you don't know your energy usage figures in kWh (that's the unit they measure gas and electricity in) then use Ofgems average UK figures which are 2,900 kWh for electricity and 12,000 kWh for gas. This is the figure used for the average gas and electric bill in the UK.

If you don't know what energy tariff you are on then just let them know which energy company you are with. You will still see the cheapest overall tariff but they won't be able to give you an accurate figure as to how much you can save.

Choosing a new energy deal

It can seem overwhelming when you are confronted by a list of potential new tariffs and this can lead to decision paralysis. There are so many to choose from that you don't know which one to pick so you end up not switching.

If you end up sticking with your current energy supplier the usual outcome is that you will end up paying more than you need to. The worst outcome is that you will automatically roll onto their default tariff which means that the amount you pay for each unit of gas and electricity that you use goes up.

Avoid this at all cost, if you really can't deal with switching to a new supplier then at least contact your current supplier to get the least worst deal so your energy bill does not go up more than it needs to.

So back to our comparison. The list of the best deals on offer from your energy price comparison will be sorted in price order with the cheapest energy deal first.

This comparison will be tailored to your energy usage, the same supplier your friend is offered may be the cheapest supplier for you. It various because of the amount of energy you use and where you live in the UK.

If you pick one of the 10 cheapest deals you are likely to save money. There are hundreds of different energy tariffs on the market but we have found the 10 cheapest gas and electricity deals always tend to be within £5 per month of each other.

So within that top 10 which one do you pick?

The cheapest always seems the most obvious but it is worth considering if the deal is fixed one or variable. Fixed deals have a fixed price for each unit of energy you use which is great for those who want consistency. Many fixed deals are now available without early exit fees which means that you can switch without penalty before the end of your contract.

Many customers like to choose an energy company they recognise. Most of the best deals tend to be from smaller energy firms that you will likely never have heard of. If you want a brand name energy supplier you are going to have to compromise on price, the big names charge more.

Many consumers tend to stay away from the smaller and often much cheaper energy suppliers as they are worried about being able to contact them if things go wrong. Statistically only a small percentage of customers experience serious problems with their energy suppliers and it is true for both large and small energy companies.

If you are more concerned about finding the best energy supplier rather than just the cheapest then its worth taking a look at Octopus Energy. They charge more but have better customer support according to most reviews.

Switching energy supplier

Once you've decided who you want to switch to you need to give your direct debit instructions to your new supplier. You do this with the comparison service as they will be handling the actual switch for you. Most people pay by direct debit as this gives you access to the cheapest deals. You can pay on receipt of your bill but the range of tariffs you can switch to will be limited. Suppliers really don't like the extra admin as it costs them more to process and pass these costs onto you.

Your switch takes around 17 to 21 days which includes a 14 day cooling off period in which you can change your mind.

You'll get a welcome email from your new supplier and they will let you know when to give them your meter readings. You generally don't need to but I like to contact the new supplier and my old supplier and give them the meter readings at the same time. It probably doesn't make that much difference but it gives me some peace of mind knowing that both old and new energy suppliers are working with the same numbers.

That's about all you have to do. It takes about 5 minutes to do the actual energy comparison to start with and about a further 10 minutes to finish the whole process when you decide to switch. Then you just wait 17 to 21 days to give your meter readings.