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7 Jul 2021

Five energy switching myths busted

Weighing up whether it's time to switch gas and electricity supplier? Don't let one of these reasons hold you back
Family worrying about energy bills

When we surveyed more than 7,000 energy customers, more than a quarter had been customers of the same supplier for five years or more. Yet we found that many customers aren't happy with the service they receive from their gas and electricity company.

More than two in 10 energy customers we surveyed had a problem with their supplier in the past year. With some energy firms, more than four in 10 had had a problem.

Our research has found that switching energy supplier can help you pay less for gas and electricity and get better service.

See the best energy companies for 2021 and use Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity prices.

You can also phone us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.

Myth 1: Switching gas and electricity supplier is difficult

Woman looking annoyed because the energy switching

If you've been putting it off, you might be surprised to find that switching supplier is easy, according to 86% of people who changed energy provider in the last four years.

In fact, just 4% said they found the process difficult - the other 9% said it was neither easy nor difficult.

We asked those who found switching tricky to tell us why. The most common complaints were that it was slow or that an auto-switching service didn't work as expected.

Follow our straight-forward steps for how to switch energy supplier to make sure you have what you need to switch and get the most accurate quote.

Myth 2: Switching won't save money as all energy suppliers are expensive

Woman confused by energy bill

Though energy prices are rising, as we reported last month, you can still save money by switching.

If you are on your energy supplier's standard or default tariff (you'll likely be on this if you haven't switched in a while or are out-of-contract) you have the most to gain.

These tariffs are price-capped by Ofgem, but this doesn't mean they're cheap. Far from it. This month you could save up to £293 by switching from a tariff at the level of the price cap to the cheapest deal available.

Top five cheapest energy supplier deals

CompanyTariffAnnual price (medium user)Fixed/ variableExit feeSavings compared with the price cap
PFP EnergyGreen variable s2£845Variablen/a£293
Avro EnergySimple and Saver 12M£950FixedNone£188
PFP EnergyPriced for Protection s3£956Fixed£30 per fuel£182
Outfox the MarketSummer 21 Variable v2£957Variablen/a£181

All tariffs above are for fixed direct debit payments and paperless bills. Data is from Energylinx and correct on 5th July 2021.*

If you're keen for predictable bills, consider a fixed deal. This means that the prices you pay (the daily standing charge and unit rate) are set for the length of the deal. Variable deals can change price when the supplier raises or lowers its prices (though it must give you at least 30 days' notice).

Read our tips on how to get the best energy deal.

Myth 3: Switching energy supplier is slow

Mother and child waiting by the window

Though few people we surveyed told us that switching was difficult, the top complaint was that the process was slow.

It takes 18 days on average to switch gas supplier and 16 days to switch electricity supplier, according to energy regulator Ofgem. That doesn't include the 14 day cooling-off period that starts once you've chosen your deal.

These are averages across all suppliers though, and some are much quicker.

For a speedier switch, look for an energy company that's signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee. They promise to switch you within 21 days (including the 14-day cooling-off period).

Find out which firms are part of the Energy Switch Guarantee and check how much compensation you should get if your switch takes too long.

Keep your switch on track by giving your supplier final meter readings when it asks for them (and take photos so you have proof in case you need it later).

Myth 4: You'll lose your Warm Home Discount if you switch

Senior woman looking out of her kitchen window wit

Not all energy suppliers offer the Warm Home Discount, a £140 annual payment to help those struggling to pay their energy bills.

For winter 2021/22, all energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers must pay the Warm Home Discount to people in the 'Core Group'. You are in the Core Group if you received the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

Beyond this, energy suppliers have their own criteria for a 'broader group' who can claim the money. You might qualify if you are on a low income or get certain means-tested benefits.

If you're in this group, check with the new supplier before you switch that you'll still be able to receive your payments.

It's worth comparing prices too though - if you'll save more than £140 per year by switching to a supplier that doesn't pay the Warm Home Discount, you could still save money overall.

Find out more about the Warm Home Discount, including a list of suppliers that pay it.

Myth 5: Being in debt means you can't switch energy supplier

You can still switch energy supplier if you have been in debt for less than 28 days. Your supplier will just add the amount you owe to your final bill.

If you have owed money for more than 28 days you'll need to repay the money before you can switch.

The rules are different if you are repaying a debt with a prepayment meter. In that case, you can switch with up to £500 of debt per fuel. You'll repay the debt to the new supplier instead and agree a repayment plan with it.

If it's your supplier's fault that you're in debt, then it can't stop you from switching.

Read more: help if you're struggling to pay your energy bill.

Which? energy pricing research

*Prices are based on widely available dual-fuel tariffs, paying by fixed monthly direct debit with paperless bills.

Energy use is based on Ofgem's annual average figures for a medium user (12,000kWh gas and 2,900kWh electricity).

Comparisons are based on the current price cap, correct from 1 April to 30 September 2021. Prices are averages across regions, rounded to the nearest whole pound.