Which? Switch

Switch energy supplier

Which? Switch gives you a transparent and impartial way to compare energy tariffs and find the best gas and electricity provider for your needs.

My direct debit has increased

Your direct debit payments are based on an estimation of how much power you’ll use over a year, depending on a number of factors like how many people live in your house. The more information your energy firm has about how much energy you use, for example regular meter readings, the more accurate this will be.

If you use more energy than your supplier expected, you’ll likely see your direct debit increase to cover the costs.

If you use less than your supplier expected, your direct debits should drop so you don’t build up too much credit.

The aim of a direct debit is to spread your payments equally throughout the year, to cover varying usage. You would expect to see that you’re in credit at the end of the summer, and in debt at the end of winter.

Your supplier has to notify you 10 working days before it increases your direct debit under the Direct Debit Guarantee.

If you don't agree that the increase is justified by your usage, for example you still have lots of credit, contact your supplier and ask it to explain how it calculated the increase.

It maybe that you can agree a smaller rise that still covers your yearly usage but avoids the build up of lots of credit.

Submit regular meter readings (if you don't have a smart meter) so your supplier is basing its calculations on accurate meter readings as opposed to estimated meter readings.

I’m on a fixed tariff and my prices have increased

This shouldn’t happen.

When you signed up to a fixed term tariff, you agreed to pay the same amount per unit of energy used for the length of your contract.

An energy company can only increase its prices for a fixed term contract if:

  • the government raises VAT
  • you have a tariff that has structured price changes set out in advance

To check whether you’re on a fixed tariff see if there’s an ‘end date’ on your bill - this will mean you’re on a fixed rate tariff.

If you are on a fixed-term tariff and your energy supplier has told you that your payments will increase, it’s likely to be a change in your direct debit payments, rather than a price rise. The amount you pay on a fixed-term deal depends on how much energy you use.

In the last 42 days of your fixed deal, you are free to switch to another deal or provider. Before this, you may have to pay exit fees. They can be around £30 per fuel, though not all companies charge them. Even paying an exit fee, you might still be able to save more by switching.

I’m on a variable tariff and my prices have increased

If you’re on a variable tariff, your provider can change the price  it charges  per kWh of gas or electricity you use. So the amount you pay will change whenever your firm raises or lowers its prices.

But because you’re not locked into a contract with a variable tariff, you can leave to find a better deal whenever you like without paying exit fees.

Your supplier has to tell you at least 30 days before its price change takes effect.

The only time it doesn’t  have to notify you is if:

  • It’s changing the way you pay, for example installing a prepayment meter
  • You’re on a tracker tariff
  • You’re on a Staggered Charging Tariff

If your energy company doesn’t give you 30 days’ notice about its price increase, and you’re not affected by any of the exemptions, you should complain and tell them they have to give you 30 days’ notice.
Switching suppliers

The only way to avoid a price increase is to either switch to another tariff with the same energy company or switch to a different energy supplier altogether.

You can use Which? Switch for free to compare energy prices and ensure you're on the best tariff.

Which? Switch will handle all the details for you, so you don’t need to worry about notifying your new or old supplier.

If you switch directly with an energy company, your new energy supplier will contact your old supplier for you so you don’t need to let them know you’re leaving.

Before you switch, don't forget to pay off any debts with your existing supplier first.

Please tell us what you think of the Which? Consumer Rights website.

Your feedback is vital in helping us improve this site. All data will be treated confidentially. This survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Please take our survey so we can improve our website for you and others like you.