Energy Supplier Switching Made Easy
Guess who doesn't want you to switch energy supplier? You knew already, it's your current energy provider. They don't want you to switch to a cheaper energy company because you are a loyal customer so they can get away with overcharging you for your gas and electricity.
If you are with one of the Big Six or you have been on the same tariff for more than a year I guarantee you are paying more for your electricity and gas supply than you need to. If you switch regularly, about once a year then you are a savvy customer
Wouldn't you rather save money on your energy bill and spend the money on something nice or even have the heating on a higher temperature or for longer in the winter?
Is it Difficult to Switch Energy Supplier?
A lot of people don't know how to switch to a new supplier or think it's difficult to do so. That's the fault of the energy market in the UK, they've made it difficult with meter readings, kWh, thousands of different tariffs, different prices for different regions, unit rates, standing charges and the list goes on.
I'll tell you a secret, it's almost impossible to make an accurate comparison on your own. There is no way you could approach every different energy provider to get a quote to find out who's the cheapest gas and electric company.
Thankfully there are a handful of trusted energy comparison sites that collect all the prices daily from all of the companies and each of their tariffs. These are the Ofgem accredited price comparison websites that have to abide by a code of conduct. They allow you to easily compare energy prices in order to find a better deal.
By using an energy comparison website it makes it much easier to compare energy and switch providers.
How to Compare and Switch to Cheap Energy Deals
You will need your current bill. Energy bills contain the information that you will need in order to make an accurate comparison. You should have either a paper bill or be able to visit your current energy companies website to view the paper equivalent online.
For the most accurate comparison you will need the following information. I've broken it down and given a bit of an explanation as to why each bit of information is important in order to get a realistic and accurate comparison.
Postcode of your Supplied Address
The reason they need to know your postcode is not because they want to harvest extra data or steal your information. They only actual need your postcode but some comparison sites also ask for your address.
The UK is divided into different energy regions that have different energy prices based on factors such as how much the local distribution network charges suppliers and demand by customers among other factors.
Your postcode is needed to identify the region you come under. So two people in different regions can end up getting charged different amounts even if they are with the same supplier and on the exact same tariff. It may seem unfair, especially for the customers charged more, but that's just how it is.
Your Current Supplier and Tariff
In order to get the best energy comparison they need to know what you currently pay and compare it with what you could be paying. You need to know who supplies your gas and electricity and what tariff you are currently on. Thankfully this information is on your energy bill.
Your Yearly Energy Usage for Gas and Electric in kWh
To get the most accurate estimate energy comparison across the whole of the energy market you'll need your electricity bill and gas bill. If you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier commonly referred to as Dual Fuel then the information will be contained within the one bill.
You are looking for annual usage figure for both electric and gas in kWh as this is the unit of measurement used for the comparison. If you don't have these figures it is worth contacting your current supplier to get the figures.
If you can't get these figures or don't have a bill handy you can use your monthly payment amount for gas and electric but these figures need to be separate rather than your combined direct debit figure. Your quote isn't going to be as accurate compared to using actual kWh usage figures as direct debits can change over the course of a year. For example if you have been paying too much or too little or your supplier has different summer and winter direct debit figures.
How to Switch Energy Supplier
It takes less than 5 minutes to compare energy tariffs, I've done it so many times now that I can get a quote in about 30 seconds.
To compare gas and electricity tariffs you need to use a price comparison website or an autoswitch energy service. When switching energy supply you can go direct to the new suppliers website, switch via a comparison site or let an energy autoswitch site switch you.
You will be asked for some details that your new energy supplier will need in order for them to switch you over. These are the same details you would have provided to your current energy company when you joined them.
You will need to provide your gas and electric meter readings so your old supplier can send you a final bill and your new supplier knows what your opening meter readings will be. If you are paying by direct debit you will need to provide your direct debit details. Most companies offer significantly better prices if you pay by direct debit rather than paying when you get a bill. Direct debit tariffs are always cheaper.
So you've given your new supplier your details. They will let your old supplier know you are switching and settle any balance or refund you if you have a credit. It takes up to 21 days for the switch to complete which includes the 14 day cooling off period, a legal requirement allowing you 2 weeks to change your mind.
You can switch if you have a prepayment meter, you can switch and pay when you get a bill or quarterly but the best tariffs with the cheapest prices are going to be for those who pay by monthly direct debit.
What to Consider when Looking for a Good Energy Deal
Most people consider switching energy supplier for cheaper prices. Most people can find lower gas and electricity prices as only a small percentage of the UK population are on the cheapest tariffs.
Switching electricity supplier separately is possible but you will usually get cheaper electricity prices on a dual fuel tariff. The same goes for switching gas supplier.
Customer satisfaction scores are also high up on the priority list after cost. The fear of something going wrong will stop people from switching to a better deal. If an energy supplier has a history of back customer feedback you are less likely to switch to them. It's worth checking energy reviews beforehand.
What about Green energy tariffs? Some of the cheapest energy tariffs supply green energy, at least electricity. Green gas tend to come at a premium.
Fixed deals and exit fees need to be taken into consideration. Fixed deals are using for a 12 month period but not all fixed deals come with attached early exit fees so it can be worth looking for a fix with no exit fees if the price is right if you want the security of being charged the same price each month.
The quote you get can vary depending on how much gas and electricity you use. Standing charge and unit rate make up what you pay. A standing charge is the daily rate you pay regardless of how much you use and the unit rate is what you pay for each kWh of energy.
Tariffs tend to have either low unit rates and high standing charges and vice versa. Lower energy users will benefit from lower standing charges and higher energy users will benefit from tariffs with lower unit rates.
The above image shows an energy comparison quote for a low energy user (1550 kWh electric and 6000 kWh gas) showing the cheapest three suppliers
The above image shows an energy comparison quote for a high energy user (6200 kWh electric and 24000 kWh gas) showing the cheapest three suppliers
How to do an energy switch for the cheapest supplier
If you just want to switch energy to the cheapest supplier the quickest and easiest option is to do an online energy comparison which should take no more than 5 minutes.
To find the lowest price for the average household in the UK (a 3 bed semi) you don't need to enter your exact energy usage so you don't have to have a recent energy bill to hand.
When you do your comparison the only bit of essential information that you need to enter is your postcode. Your postcode is needed to find out which energy region you live in as all energy companies charge a rate based on what part of the country you live in.
You just need to select the options that best match your circumstances such as do you want to pay by direct debit and if you are on economy 7. You don't need to know who your current supplier is or what tariff you are on if you are just looking for the overall lowest costing gas and electricity tariff.
The results of your comparison will be in cost order so you can choose from the top of the list where the best overall deals will be.
It's a simplistic way to compare but it will get you the current best energy prices quickly and it's easy to do without needing to have any details to hand.