Tips for switching energy suppliers in the UK

Energy deals/tariffs vary from household to household as there are many factors that are used to calculate what your tariff will be such as what type of meter you have, your energy consumption, what type of tariff you are looking for and much more.

The energy wholesale market can change every day so a tariff that you saw today may not be available tomorrow if the prices for gas and electricity change.

For those who haven’t switched in a while and are most likely on their supplier’s standard variable tariff (the most expensive tariff), it’s very likely that you will find a cheaper energy deal by switching to a new tariff.

The best way to find a deal when searching for a new energy supplier that is most accurate to your household, is to make sure that you always have a recent energy bill to hand as most comparison/autoswitching sites will ask for information such as your usage which can be easily found on a bill. You can also revert back to your bill when comparing the standing charges of the new tariff compared to your current tariff

Auto-switching

Auto-switching (also known as automatic switching) is the simplest way to switch energy supplier and save money on your energy, every year. It’s the modern way to do bills without the headache and hassle of comparison sites.

Autoswitching has revolutionalised the way that consumers find energy deals. We’ve written a blog about what autoswitching exactly is and how easy it makes energy switching which you can read here https://lookaftermybills.com/blog/what-is-auto-switching/

How soon can I switch energy suppliers?

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You can choose to change your energy supplier whenever you like especially if you are on a standard variable tariff or on a tariff that does not have any exit fees. You can always check what type of tariff you are locked into by looking at your most recent bill or by contacting your supplier directly to enquire.

If you are on a different tariff and not on the standard variable tariff, you may have to pay early exit fees if you choose to leave your contract earlier than the agreed contract end date. Exit fees depend on the supplier and can vary in price especially if you are on an electricity only or dual fuel tariff as you may be charged for each energy supply.

The good news is that you can leave your tariff as early as 49 days before the contract end date stated on your energy bills. Ofgem’s rules state that customers must not be charged exit fees if they leave during or after the ‘switching window’, which is defined as “49 calendar days before a fixed-term contract ends”.

You can apply to switch at any point during a fixed-term contract without having to pay exit fees, as long as the switch is actually completed during the switching window.

How long does it take to switch your energy supplier?

The process of switching suppliers is fairly quick, normally taking just 3-4 weeks. Some suppliers take longer than others and it is normal to not hear from them during this period. Once you switch, your deal is locked in and your supplier will be in touch shortly to explain how to submit your meter readings. From there, they’ll pass your initial meter readings on to your old supplier so that both suppliers know the exact point at which your old supply ended and your new one began. 

Your old supplier will issue you your final bill within 6 weeks of the supply switch date. Once that bill is settled up they’ll close your account and cancel your direct debit.

If you’re looking to find the greatest saving, it’s usually better to switch yourself to a direct debit tariff. This is because it is cheaper for suppliers to buy energy monthly and so the best and most competitive deals in the market are under this payment method compared to quarterly or on receipt.

This is also another reason as to why most suppliers charge upfront so they can have a base amount in the account and buy that month’s energy and most suppliers are militant about monthly meter readings too.

If they get a reading then it makes it easier for them to buy a set amount of energy each month for you.

Once you have started a new switch, it is important to bear in mind that you will have to provide bank details to set up the direct debit once the switch has successfully gone through.

Any credit remaining in your old account will be transferred back into your bank account! All you’ll have to do before this is settle up your final bill with your old supplier. 

How does the energy cap work?

The regulator for energy; Ofgem sets an energy price cap on the unit rates and standing charges to limit the prices that energy suppliers can charge that is reviewed twice a year.

As of October 2020, Ofgem limited the price cap of a standard variable tariff to £1,042 per year and it is based on ‘typical’ customers who have dual fuel and pay via direct debit and are on a standard variable tariff or are on a prepayment meter which has a slightly different cap. Of course, this limit does not mean that customers will only ever pay £1,042 maximum per year as it does depend on a customer’s usage.

As a result of COVID-19 and lockdown, wholesale energy costs plummeted which saw the new price cap to fall by £84 to £1,042 per year which will have an positive affect on most household energy bills.

The price cap level for prepayment tariffs were lowered by £93, to £1,070 per year too.

However, this price cap doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, particularly if you are not on a standard variable tariff.

Most people end up on the standard variable tariff by default when their contract comes to an end. Rather than rolling onto a new fixed-term tariff with different standing charges and rates, most people roll onto the standard variable tariff automatically by the supplier particularly if they don’t stay on top of their energy bills and notice that their contract is coming to an end.

The standard variable tariff is the most expensive tariff so it is always good practice to ensure that change your tariff or supplier when your contract is coming to an end rather than allowing yourself to roll onto the standard variable tariff by default.

Fixed tariffs are equally as important when looking for a new supplier/tariff as the standing charges and unit rates are locked in, meaning that you will always pay the same charges regardless of a price cap or price hike.

It is important to note that just because a price cap has been put in place, it does not necessarily mean that you will be protected by unexpected price hikes as the wholesale market can change at any given time.

Energy companies in the UK

There are over 50 energy suppliers in the UK so searching for the right deal and supplier ca be a stressful and confusing job as there are so many factors to take into consideration.

If you find that you are struggling to find out which supplier is the cheapest and best to trust, we’ve written a guide about most of the energy suppliers in the UK which will help you make a more informed decision on which supplier to switch to. 

https://www.weflip.com/energy-suppliers

This is why auto-switching is changing the game!

At Look After My Bills, we provide an automatic switch service for those who don’t want to waste their time looking at every available energy deal; we take your information and then set up an energy switch as soon as possible and to the best deal possible.

Aside from the moment at the sign up, where you can see what supplier and tariff we’d recommend, we wouldn’t ask you if you want to switch before doing it (the process is mostly automatic). However, we always notify you about a switch and you will have 14 days to cancel if you’re not happy with the choice we’ve made for you.

We don’t switch our customers if there are exit fees, waiting instead until your current energy contract comes up for renewal or you are free to switch and we’ll only switch you if you can make a saving at least £25 a year per fuel (so £50 a year if you have both electricity and gas) or a saving of at least £15 a year if you have a prepayment meter. 

You can sign up to us at www.lookaftermybills.com or by contacting our sign up team at 0333 0008 000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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