How to save on your energy bill
Switching energy supplier as a tenant
Article 4 of 5
Switching energy supplier as a tenant
If you’re a tenant you can still usually switch your energy supplier to get a cheaper deal. Find out how to cut your gas and electric bills down if you rent.
Ensuring you’re on a good energy deal is a quick step to keeping your bills down – and renting your home shouldn’t stop you getting the best deal.
But tenants are less likely to have switched than homeowners. Exclusive Which? research found 42% of those who rent chose to switch to their current supplier, compared with 61% of homeowners.*
If you haven’t switched energy supplier, or have begun a new tenancy and transferred the energy bills into your name, it’s likely that you’re on your energy firm’s standard tariff. This is its default, or out-of-contract, tariff and often also its priciest.
Compare gas and electricity prices using Which? Switch, to find the best deal for you as a tenant, regardless of how long you’ll be renting for.
Which? Switch lets you select the length of your tenancy, so you can compare energy prices based on how long you know you’ll be in your home.
Read on to find out:
- Can I switch energy firm as a tenant?
- Do I need permission to switch energy supplier?
- How to compare energy prices when you rent
- Top energy problems for tenants, and how to solve them
- How to save money on gas and electricity
If you pay your energy company directly for your gas and electricity, then you can choose your energy supplier. This is according to consumer protection law.
But if your landlord pays the energy company direct, they can choose the energy supplier. You might be in this situation if:
- Your energy costs are included in your rent
- Your landlord pays your energy supplier and reclaims the money from you
- Your landlord has taken responsibility for energy bills between tenancies.
Your tenancy agreement should state whether you or your landlord are responsible for paying the gas and electricity bills.
If your landlord pays the energy bills, you can ask them to change your supplier. But they don’t have to.
Your tenancy agreement might also include a ‘default’ or preferred energy supplier that your landlord or letting agent may have set up. You can ask to renegotiate this clause in your contract.
But if you can’t change the default supplier clause in the contract, provided you pay the bills and not your landlord or letting agent, you are still entitled to switch supplier. You should inform your landlord or letting agent, though.
There may also be clauses that require you to tell the landlord if you switch energy supplier, or return the account to the original supplier at the end of your tenancy.
If you have a prepayment meter and rent your home, you should still be able to switch. Find out whether a prepayment energy meter is right for you.
As with any new home, you won’t know how much electricity and gas you’ll use when you first move in, which makes it tricky to find the best deal for you. Plus, most fixed energy deals are either one or two years long, while tenancies can end sooner.
Which? Switch now takes into account the length left of your tenancy to calculate the best deal. It’ll factor in exit fees - it can reveal whether you’d be better off leaving a fixed deal early, or choosing a standard tariff with no end date.
When you compare energy prices online, make sure you put in as much detail as possible about your home (including number of bedrooms, type of property, how many people live there) to get as accurate a quote as possible.
When you come to switch, the process is the same regardless of whether you’re a tenant or own your home. Follow the simple steps in our guide on how to switch energy supplier.
If you rent your home, you’re more likely to have had a problem with your energy supplier than if you own your home.
26% of tenants had a problem in the last year, compared with 20% of homeowners
If you think your bill is incorrect, contact your energy supplier to find out how the charges were arrived at. Make sure you submit regular meter readings (you can usually do this online or over the phone) to make sure your bill is based on what you use, rather than estimates.
Sales or transfer problems
Though most people find the process of switching supplier hassle-free, some face problems and delays. Check our guide to switching energy supplier to make sure you have the information to hand you need, plus which suppliers promise to make the switch in a timely manner.
Concerned your meter is incorrect? Take regular meter readings and submit them to your supplier. You can also try turning off all your electrical appliances and check whether the meter is still turning. Check our tips on what you need to know about gas and electricity meters.
You’re more likely to be be on a standard variable tariff (39%) as a tenant than if you owned your home (25%). Variable tariffs have no set contract length and no exit fees so they’re easy to leave when you move home. However, the amount you pay can go up or down when your energy company changes its prices.
But if your direct debit has increased and you’re in credit, know your rights on energy price rises.
Take meter readings as soon as you move in and when you move out. Submit these to your energy supplier if you pay the bills, or your landlord if they pay the bills.
This will help ensure that you only pay for the gas and electricity you use during your tenancy.
When you switch energy supplier, look out for online billing and account management, direct debit payments and discounts for buying your gas and electricity (dual-fuel) from the same company. These could all save you cash on energy.
Replacing light bulbs with energy saving ones, turning down radiators in rarely used or empty rooms and cutting draughts can also help keep your energy bills down.
*Online survey, July 2017, of 1,207 tenants who are members of the UK general public and responsible for their energy bills.