Switching Energy Suppliers: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Best Deals in the UK Energy Market

As energy tariffs dominate the national conversation, consumers find themselves making tough choices.

Before you think about switching energy supplier, it's important to understand what it involves and how much money you could realistically save.

Is it worth switching energy suppliers now?

With fluctuating prices, it may be worth switching energy supplier. But we need to have all the facts - particularly given the unique situation.

We are in the midst of an energy crisis, with multiple contributing factors. These began in 2021 as lockdown restrictions eased, putting more demand on wholesale gas. Coupled with a shortage in renewables and the conflict in Ukraine, supplies began to drop. This led to an increased price cap of 80%, to an average of £3,459 per household.

Thankfully, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The Energy Price Guarantee will run until June 2023, leaving the average household paying £2,500 per year. Of course, we need to be prudent about how much energy we're using - and which energy provider we choose.

When is the best time to change energy provider?

In an unpredictable economic climate, there isn't necessarily a 'best time' to switch energy supplier. You can keep your eye on the news, but you should also consider other factors.

If you've been with your supplier for a long time and moved onto a standard variable energy tariff, you may be paying more. You can pre-empt this and switch suppliers before your deal ends, for example, 21 days before your tariff is up.

Finally, you may want to switch should your circumstances change - for example, if you're moving house or retiring.

How to change your energy supplier

Before you switch, remember that some gas or electricity suppliers only serve certain areas of the UK. You might think you're getting the cheapest UK energy provider, only to be let down by location.

Start by finding an existing energy bill and look at the plan name. For example, you might be on a fixed or variable plan, where costs stay the same or move with energy prices. You might have a tariff that changes depending on when you use your energy, such as the Economy 7, which offers cheaper prices in the evenings.

Decide what you're looking to get out of your new energy deal. Do you want short-term cost savings or a long-term fixed rate? Do you want to avoid paying an exit fee, or are you looking for a green supplier?

You can use our free energy comparison service to find a better deal. We'll then send over the details and your new supplier will finalise the switch.

What to know when you switch energy supplier

You can save time by gathering information before you switch supplier. Look at your latest bill to determine what your annual usage is in kWh. This helps us to give you a more accurate quote by comparing what you pay per month.

Understanding different energy tariffs

You should understand how your energy is priced. For example, you might have a prepayment meter, which uses a key token or app. Standard tariffs usually take direct debit payments.

There may be different pricing models too, so take this into account when looking at your bill. For example, on an Economy 7 tariff, there will be daytime and evening pricing.

When comparing quotes, remember:

  • A fixed rate usually lasts 12 to 18 months
  • Paying an exit fee can cost more than the saving
  • You could save money with a direct debit payment
  • Smaller suppliers can be just as good as the Big 7, so read the reviews.

Business energy works differently, so you can compare business energy quotes with our handy guide.

What happens when I switch supplier?

Switching supplier is easy. If you've still got outstanding bills to pay, you can take these with you - but only if they're less than 28 days old. Otherwise, you should pay before you switch.

There's no limit to the number of times you can switch. Try changing before you get put onto a variable tariff, which can fluctuate with economic conditions.

You won't have any interruption in your energy supply and there won't be any home visits - unless your new contract specifically says you need to have a smart meter installed. You'll get a welcome pack from your new supplier outlining terms and conditions.

You can also switch if you don't own your home. You're within your rights to ask your landlord to review your energy bills, or to install a smart meter.

What about paying an exit fee?

If you're worried about paying an exit fee, it's best to switch within 49 days of your contract renewal. Most energy providers waive the exit fee within this period, but you should check their terms.

Remember: if your exit fee is larger than the money you'll save, it's not worth the switch!

How long will switching my energy bill take?

Switching energy providers can take anywhere from five to 21 days. Remember to have your annual energy usage and bills ready to make the switch simpler. Once you've made the switch, you'll be entitled to a cooling off period.

What is a cooling off period?

A cooling off period entitles you to 14 days to change your mind. During this period, you can stick with your original supplier or choose a new one if you wish, without paying a fee. You should alert your original supplier if you do decide to stay, or use our free comparison service to find a better deal.

How to read your energy bill

To get the best energy quote, you'll need to understand your utility bills. Our handy guide on how to read your energy bill will take you through the basics including:

  • The name of your energy tariff and how you'll pay
  • The tariff end date and any exit fees
  • The unique MPAN/MPRN numbers for your gas or electricity meters.

You can also use this guide to figure out how much you're spending and how you can reduce your bills.

How to find out your current supplier

You might not know who your current supplier is - for example, if you've just moved home. Our guide on how to find out your current energy supplier will give you the key contacts to speak to, or the phone numbers in your Distribution Network.

How to switch supplier when moving home

Moving home is one of the best reasons for switching energy providers. We've put together a handy guide on how to switch energy supplier when moving home.

Remember to take a meter reading and notify your provider 48 hours before you move. You should also take a reading at your new home and contact the supplier. You can switch over, or use our free comparison tool to check for a better energy deal.

Should I fix my energy prices?

So, should you fix your energy prices? There's no set answer as it depends entirely on your circumstances, whether you're powering a small home or a large swimming pool. Our guide will take you through the best options for your situation.

What if I want to switch to a sustainable energy supplier?

You may want to switch energy providers for greener reasons. If you're searching specifically for these credentials, we recommend our energy fuel mix guide, which offers reviews on suppliers and their mix of nuclear, coal and renewable sources.

You can also look for accreditations to ensure an eco-friendly supplier.

What happens if my energy provider goes bust?

If your energy supplier goes bust, don't panic. Ofgem is legally obliged to find you a new supplier. You should speak to them and make sure you're not put onto a variable tariff, which can be more expensive.

Just like switching suppliers normally, you should still be mindful of cooling off periods and paying your last bills. We can help you make the switch if you're not happy with your new supplier. We also regularly update our list of suppliers no longer in business in case you're unsure.

Get more for your money with our energy comparison service

Get more for your money with our energy comparison service

Times are tough right now, which is our energy comparison service is here to help. Choose the fuel you want, whether it's cheaper, a fixed cost, or better for the environment. Whatever you choose, you'll get unbiased, independent advice to help you along the way.

Never miss out on energy savings!

Want to be amongst the first to be notified when more competitive energy tariffs become available? Enter your email address here...

We won't spam. Unsubscribe any time.

Our energy expert

Compare. Switch. Save. Join millions of homes switching with the UK energy experts.

You may also be interested in:

Ofgem Confidence Code
Fully accredited by Ofgem since 2003