How to save on your energy bill
How to switch energy supplier
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How to switch energy supplier
Switching energy supplier could save you hundreds of pounds on your gas and electricity bill. So what are you waiting for? Find out how to switch.
Make sure you're not paying more than you should for gas and electricity. Use our expert advice to find out what you need to switch, and how to get the best deal for you.
Switching to a cheaper energy deal is a quick and easy way to save money. In fact, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds.
Here, we tell you what information you need to switch, plus explain the different types of tariff available.
What you'll need to switch
The more information you can provide to an energy comparison website, the more accurate your quote will be. Make sure you have this information to hand:
- Your postcode
- The name of your current gas and electricity supplier, and the name of your tariff. If you're not sure, look at your latest bill or contact your supplier
- How much you use in kilowatt hours (kWh) on gas and electricity, or how much you spend. Again, look at recent bills - or even better, look at your annual energy statement
- Your bank or credit card details if you decide to switch and want to pay by direct debit.
The best way to find the cheapest energy deals is by visiting an independent energy comparison website, such as our own Which? Switch. Use Which? Switch to compare gas and electric.
How long does it take to switch energy supplier?
It takes 16 days to switch your gas or electricity supplier, on average, according to energy regulator Ofgem*.
That’s not including the 14 days cooling-off period the supplier must leave in case you want to change your mind before they begin the switch.
When we spoke to energy customers who had found switching energy supplier difficult** in October 2016, the most common reason was that the process was too slow.
For a quicker switch, choose a company signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee.
So if you’re keen for a quicker switch, choose a company signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee. These companies guarantee to switch your energy supply within 21 days (including the cooling-off period).
Companies signed up are: British Gas, Bulb, Ecotricity, EDF Energy, Enstroga, Eon, First Utility, Flow Energy, Npower, Octopus Energy, Pure Planet, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Power, So Energy and Tonik Energy (correct October 2017).
They also guarantee to contact your old energy supplier to tell it you’re leaving, work with it to make sure you’re not charged twice, and take responsibility if there are any problems. Find out more about the Energy Switch Guarantee.
*(As stated March 2017.)
**(Survey: October 2016, 8,917 energy customers.)
Types of energy tariff
There are a huge number of tariffs and deals on the market - here's a quick introduction to what's available:
If you want to get your gas and electricity from the same supplier, then taking a dual-fuel deal will pretty much always work out cheaper because of the dual-fuel discount.
But if you are prepared to have separate suppliers for your gas and your electricity, then getting the cheapest deals for each fuel could save you even more.
Online energy tariffs
If you choose an online (or paperless) tariff, you won't receive bills through the post and you'll have to manage at least some of your account over the internet.
But you'll often get a substantial discount for managing your account this way, and you can still call customer services if you have a problem and would like to speak to someone.
Fixed-price energy tariffs
Fixed-price tariffs guarantee the price you pay for your energy for a set period of time, and may give peace of mind if you're worried about possible future price rises.
Fixed deals tend to be cheaper than standard (variable) tariffs. We've found that fixed deals are, on average, 10% cheaper than standard tariffs.
It is estimated that around two thirds (66%) of households are on a standard tariff for their energy.
A standard tariff (also known as a ‘variable’ tariff) is your supplier’s default tariff. If you have been with your supplier for a while or didn’t switch after your fixed deal came to an end, it is very likely you are on it. The cost of standard tariffs will go up and down each time your supplier changes its rates.
Our analysis of energy tariffs has found that customers of the Big Six energy companies who are on a standard tariff could save up to £250 by switching to the cheapest deal on the market. So if you’re on a standard tariff and you want to save money, it's time to switch.
Use our independent switching site, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest energy deal.
Off-peak electricity tariffs
Off-peak electricity tariffs, such as Economy 7 and Economy 10, are best suited to people who can use more than 60% of their electricity late at night, such as those who heat their homes using storage heaters.
Economy 7 and 10 users have a special energy meter that can keep track of electricity units charged at different unit rates – a higher rate in the daytime and a lower rate between certain times at night or in the afternoon.
Social tariffs have traditionally been available to vulnerable customers struggling to pay their bills. These have now been replaced by a payment scheme called the Warm Home Discount. To find out more, and to see whether you're eligible, go to Warm Home Discount.
See our advice if you need help paying bills.
Energy jargon buster
Kilowatt hour (kWh)
A unit of energy used on energy bills, showing how much power is used over a period of time. If an appliance uses 1,000 watts each hour and you run it for an hour, you have used 1kWh.
A standing charge is a fixed charge that you pay, often daily, regardless of whether or not you have used any energy. For very low users or second properties, it is worth seeking a tariff with a low or zero standing charge.
How much you are paying for each unit of energy that you use (on top of the standing charge).
Find out how much money you can save by switching your energy tariff. Use Which? Switch to compare gas and electric.