With the help of the internet, more and more people are shopping around for gas & electricity and switching more often. In a sector that was once dominated by the “big six”, there are now more suppliers than ever to choose from – including many smaller companies who tend to offer better prices.
Read on for our top tips for switching suppliers…
Check if you can switch now without exit fees
If you have only recently switched to a new supplier, you will most likely be signed up to a fixed-rate tariff. Fixed tariffs typically last for two years, after which you will be automatically rolled onto a more expensive variable tariff.
If you are on a fixed rate tariff – Your supplier will charge an exit fee for leaving early. This can cost up to £75 per fuel! If this is the case, you will need to do a bit of maths to decide if the money you could save by switching would out-weight the cost of the exit fee. If not, it might be wise to stay put until your tariff ends.
If your fixed tariff has less than 49 days left – Then you are free to switch to another energy supplier without incurring an exit fee. Some people refer to this 49 day period as the ‘switching window’.
If you are on a variable rate tariff – Good news! You are free to switch without incurring any fees.
A quick note – if you are stuck on an expensive tariff and trapped by high exit fees, speak to your supplier. They might be able to move you onto a better value tariff, and it’s unlikely that they’ll charge an exit fee if you’re sticking with the same company.
Take a recent meter reading
Before you start shopping around for deals, find out where your meters are and take a reading. Having an up-to-date set of figures is useful for 2 reasons – it will help you get more accurate quotes when you’re comparing deals, and it will make life a little easier when you do switch.
How to find the best deal
Price comparison sites are great, but they don’t always give you the full picture. They’ll often promote the deals & suppliers that pay them the most commission, burying the best deals or leaving them out all together. Be a little more thorough with your research and remember that some suppliers can only provide a quote directly through their website.
Is it safe to switch to an unknown supplier?
In recent years the energy regulator Ofgem have introduced new rules to make the energy market fairer & more competitive. This has led to a sharp rise in new, smaller energy suppliers entering the market. These smaller companies have lower operational costs and are not tied to the same government schemes and obligations that apply to the bigger firms – meaning that their prices are usually lower.
But is it safe to trust a small supplier that you’ve never heard of before? There’s no simple answer to that question, but it’s a good idea to do some research and check out customer reviews on places like TrustPilot. If you do take a bit of a gamble, you could save a huge amount of money – some small companies are around £300 cheaper than the big six.
Ofgem have also put a ‘safety net’ in place. If a small energy company goes bust, Ofgem will make sure that you stay on supply and are transferred over to a new supplier as smoothly as possible.
How long does it take to switch?
Switching from one energy company to another should take no longer than 21 days. The good news is that there will be no interruption to your supply during the process – switching is totally seamless. All that changes is the logo on your bill! During the 21 day period, your new supplier will contact you to collect a set of meter readings. Make sure you do this as soon as you can, as it helps the whole process go much more smoothly.
Don’t sit around paying too much for your energy – do something about it! If you have any more tips or advice, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!