What You Need to Know About Energy Suppliers: Q&A

Customers in the UK can choose from a wide variety of energy suppliers. Although some companies are more well-known than others, there are actually hundreds of energy providers working across the country.

Of course, every company offers different products and tariffs, so it’s important to research the market to find the best deal. Once you know which tariff you want to be on and which energy company you want to use, you can switch supplier and save money on your energy bills.

All homeowners want to get the best energy prices, but many people are unsure of how to switch to a different supplier or how to get the best prices. If you want to make sure you’re on the right tariff, take a look at the answers to these commonly asked questions:

Who Is My Energy Supplier?

If you’re thinking about changing to a different energy company, you’ll need to know who your current supplier is. Although you’ll need to supply this information to your new energy provider, you’ll also need to know which company you’re currently and which tariff you’re on so that you can compare prices and find the cheapest deal.

If you have a recent energy bill to hand, the name of the supplier and the tariff you’re on will be printed on there. However, if you don’t have a recent bill or you’re moving into a new property and aren’t sure who has been supplying the power, there are other ways to access the information you need.

If you have gas power in your home, you can contact the Meter Number Helpline on 0870 608 1524 to find out who your gas supplier is. You’ll simply need to give your postcode and the first line of your address to access this information.

To find out who your electricity supplier is, you can contact your local distribution company and ask them to tell you who your supplier is. They’ll look up the information on the Meter Point Administration Service (MPAS), or you can access this service online yourself.

How To Switch Energy Supplier?

If you want to switch to a new energy supplier, you’ll need to give the new energy company your name, address and postcode, and tell them who your current supplier is. If you plan on paying by Direct Debit, you’ll also need to provide your bank details so that the arrangement can be set up.

When you switch to a new energy provider, they’ll often ask how much gas and/or electricity you use. This information is available in your recent bills but, if you don’t have them to hand, don’t panic. Most energy companies will be happy to estimate how much energy you use based on the size of your property and adjust your bill at a later date.

In most cases, your new energy company will contact your old supplier to make the switch, so you won’t need to do anything else. However, do check with your new provider that they will take care of this.

Generally, an energy company only needs to visit your property if you need to have a new meter installed. Otherwise, the switch happens remotely.

How Long Does It Take to Switch Energy Suppliers?

Once you’ve found a new tariff and supplier, it only takes a few minutes for you to instruct them to make the switch. You can do this over the phone, or many companies allow you to do this online, so choose whichever method is more convenient for you.

However, it can take a few days for the switch to actually occur. In most instances, it takes around 14-17 days for a homeowner to switch to a new energy supplier, although it can take up to 21 days.

When Can I Switch Energy Supplier Without Penalty?

If you’re currently on a fixed rate tariff, there may be a penalty if you decide to end the contract early and switch to another provider. To avoid paying this penalty, you’ll need to wait until the end of your fixed term tariff. However, if you’re not on a fixed term tariff, you should be able to switch at any time, without incurring a financial penalty.

If you’re unsure what type of tariff you’re on or when your fixed term runs out, contact your existing energy provider to find out.

Which Energy Suppliers Use Smart Meters?

Smart meters can be a convenient way to monitor your energy usage. To calculate your bills correctly, energy companies need to know exactly how much gas and/or electricity you use. Traditionally, a representative from the company would visit your home throughout the year to read the meter or your energy supplier would ask you to take a reading and report it to them. With a Smart meter, however, this information is automatically sent to your energy company.

Most energy suppliers are now using smart meters, but they aren’t necessarily available to all customers just yet. All energy providers must offer their customers a smart meter by June 2025, which means energy firms are in the process of rolling out the scheme.

If you currently have a Smart meter and you want to continue using one, you’ll need to ensure that your new energy company can facilitate this. As energy firms tend to use different manufacturers and models, a new Smart meter may need to be installed when you switch to a new supplier. However, newer types of Smart meters, known as SMETS2, are capable of working with multiple providers. If you have a SMETS2 Smart meter installed, you should be able to switch to a new provider without losing Smart functionality.

Who Is the Best Energy Supplier?

Everyone wants to know, who is the best energy supplier, but this depends on your specific circumstances. To determine who the best supplier is for you, you’ll need to determine which suppliers offer services in your area and whether they meet your needs.

If you want a dual fuel tariff, for example, you’ll only want to look at energy companies that can provide both gas and electricity.

Furthermore, you’ll need to think about how much energy you use and when you use it in order to find the best supplier. If you want to use renewable energy, for example, you may only want to use green suppliers or a supplier that offers a green tariff.

By taking your own circumstances into account and comparing energy providers on this basis, you can find the best energy supplier for your home.

Which Is the Cheapest Energy Supplier?

The cheapest energy supplier will depend on how much energy you use and when you use it. Some tariffs, such as economy 7 or economy 10, offer cheaper rates if you use electricity during off peak hours, for example. However, their rates during on peak hours can be slightly higher than average. If you can change your habits so that most of your energy consumption occurs overnight or during off peak hours, this could be the cheapest option for you.

Conversely, if you use a lot of energy throughout the day and rarely use electricity at night, an economy 7 or economy 10 tariff is unlikely to be the best option. Instead, you might want to consider a single rate tariff.

Most energy suppliers offer a range of different tariffs, so finding the cheapest one can be tricky. With comparison websites, however, you can compare like-for-like tariffs in just a couple of clicks, which means you can find the cheapest energy supplier based on your energy consumption.

Who Is the Cheapest Energy Supplier for Tenants?

If you’re a tenant, rather than a homeowner, you may be responsible for managing your energy supply. If so, you’ll have the option to choose your own supplier and tariff. The process is much the same as it is for homeowners. You’ll need to determine which tariff and supplier are cheapest for you, based on how much energy you use and when you use it.

However, tenants should think carefully about whether a fixed rate tariff is suitable for their needs. If your tenancy agreement could be cancelled before the fixed rate tariff ends, for example, you may be charged a penalty in order to end the contract only. In contrast, most variable rate tariffs don’t have any penalty fees and you can leave at any time. Of course, it is possible that paying a penalty fee to leave a fixed contract could be cheaper than paying a variable rate, so you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to take this risk.

Is It Worth Changing Energy Suppliers?

If you can find an energy supplier who offers better prices, tariffs or services, it can be well worth making the switch. In fact, switching from one supplier to another on a regular basis can be the easiest way to keep your energy bills down. What’s more – changing energy suppliers is a relatively simple process that needn’t take more than a few minutes. With the potential to save you a significant amount of money every year, it’s certainly in your interest to keep an eye on what deals are available to switch to a new energy supplier when the time is right.