Four reasons why you should switch energy supplier now

Wholesale energy prices have reached a three-year high, so it’s vital to hunt out the best possible gas and electricity deals to help keep your costs down.

Around 6 million people switched energy suppliers in 2020, down from the record 6.4m people who switched suppliers in 2019, according to data from Ofgem. 

Ofgem says that switching saves most households around £300 a year, yet there are 11 million of us on expensive default tariffs. A separate survey by Ofgem also found around one in three (29%) people said they’d never changed their supplier – perhaps because they’ve never realised how easy and safe it is to do so.

Here, we explain why switching is so important, how much you could save, and how the process works.

Why switch gas and electricity provider now?

There are several reasons why switching now might benefit you.

1. Energy prices are rising

Falling oil prices last year resulted in lower wholesale energy costs, which led to suppliers launching some of the most competitive energy deals ever seen. However, now that some suppliers have started increasing energy prices in response to rising wholesale costs, it’s worth taking advantage of remaining low cost tariffs while you can.

2. We’re using more energy than usual

Even though our energy consumption usually falls during the spring and summer months, the fact that many of us are still working from home means we are likely to be using more electricity than usual. Energy costs could rise for some as a result, so it’s vital to try and keep costs to a minimum by moving to the cheapest possible tariff.

3. You can easily beat the energy price cap

Ofgem’s cap on the price of default tariffs is designed to protect consumers who don’t switch suppliers from overpaying for their energy. The default tariff – otherwise known as the standard tariff – is the tariff you usually roll onto automatically when any special energy deal you signed up for finishes. It tends to be much more expensive than other tariffs.

The price cap limits the amount suppliers can charge for these tariffs and is updated twice a year, in April and October. It is currently £1,138 a year for a typical dual-fuel household (who gets their gas and electricity from the same supplier) and £1,156 a year for 4m prepayment meter customers. 

The good news is that it’s easy to beat the price cap by moving, so if you’re currently on a default tariff you should see if you can reduce your energy bills with this energy comparison tool. Over half of Rest Less users (51%) who have switched using the tool have cut energy costs by an average of £90 a year, and one in 10 have saved £245 a year.

4. Your fixed tariff could be ending soon

If you signed up to a fixed energy tariff a while ago, your tariff could be about to finish. When it does, you’ll usually roll straight onto your supplier’s expensive default tariff.

Fixed energy tariffs mean that the unit prices for your gas and electricity won’t change for a set period of time, providing peace of mind that you won’t be hit by any sudden price rises. However, unless you switch when your fixed tariff ends, you might end up paying much more than you currently are for your energy.

Under Ofgem rules, you don’t need to pay any exit fees to switch from your energy supplier provided you do so within 49 days of your current plan finishing. It’s up to your supplier to let you know your plan is ending, so that if you want to move at this point, you’re able to do so without penalty.

Take our 5 minute energy saving challenge

According to Energy regulator Ofgem, just over half of UK households are on expensive default energy tariffs; switching to a better energy deal today could save you up to £245* a year.

*10% of customers that applied to switch via the DT Partner Network could save at least £245.33, April-June 2021.

Which is the best energy tariff for me?

The best tariff for you will depend on where you live and on how much energy you use. The three big decisions you will need to consider are price, customer service and your impact on the environment. You can use our energy switching service to compare providers and see how much you could save, as well as seeing the customer service ratings for the suppliers listed.

You can also search for ‘green’-only tariffs, if you are happy to pay a bit more but want to minimise your environmental footprint. There are two types of green tariff, those with 100% renewable electricity and those with both 100% renewal electricity and 100% carbon offset gas which typically cost a little more.

What information do I need to switch energy supplier?

You’ll need details of your existing tariff, as well as an idea of how much you usually pay for your energy in order to get an accurate quote of how much you can save. You should be able to find all the information you’ll need on your latest energy bill. You’ll also need your bank details so you can complete the Direct Debit form if you plan to pay that way.

Make sure you check whether your current deal has an exit fee or not. If it does, you may want to wait until the fee is no longer payable and you can move free of charge. Even if there is an exit fee, you might still find that the savings you could make by switching make moving worthwhile.

If you can’t find a recent bill, or aren’t sure who your energy suppliers are, you can use the following websites to find out who your suppliers are for:

Gas – Meter Point Administration Service

Electricity – Energy Network Association

Energy Switching FAQ’s

What happens when I switch energy providers?

Once you’ve found a tariff you like, you can apply to switch energy supplier directly through our service and the whole process should take less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Your new supplier will set up the switch and notify your old supplier.

Remember that switching doesn’t involve any new pipes or meters – all you need to do is take a meter reading on the day your transfer takes place and give it to your new supplier. You’ll then receive a final bill from your old supplier, or you might receive a refund if your account was in credit. Any refund must be paid within 10 working days of them sending you your final bill. If it arrives later than this, your old supplier must pay you an additional £30 in compensation.

How long will it take to switch gas or electric provider?

Most energy suppliers have signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, a voluntary industry initiative set up by Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, which aims to make switching faster and “hassle-free.” If the supplier you’re moving to has signed up to the initiative, your switch should be completed within 21 days of you requesting it. If you’re switching to a supplier that doesn’t belong to the Energy Switch Guarantee, your switch should still take around three weeks, although some suppliers may take longer than this. Find out more about how the Energy Switch Guarantee works here.

If you change your mind about switching, you have 14 days to cancel from the date you agreed your new contract. If you do cancel, you will remain with your current supplier.

What happens if something goes wrong with my energy switch?

If your switch is taking longer than you were told, or if there’s any other kind of problem, complain to your energy company first.

If something does go wrong, you might be entitled to compensation. New requirements from Ofgem mean that customers will receive an automatic £30 payment from suppliers if they are switched by mistake, if their switch takes longer than 15 working days, or if their final bill (from the supplier they are leaving) doesn’t arrive within six weeks. Find out more about customer compensation if something goes wrong here.

If your provider fails to sort out your issue within eight weeks of you making a complaint, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman to help you resolve things. If the Ombudsman finds in your favour, the company must take steps to put things right. You can get hold of the Energy Ombudsman here, or by telephone on 0330 440 1624. Even before the eight weeks are up, as the costs of arbitration by the Ombudsman are borne by the energy company, sometimes the mere threat of going to them will prompt the company to escalate your complaint.

Are there any other ways to reduce my energy bills?

Switching energy suppliers isn’t the only way to reduce your gas and electricity costs. Looking at ways you can be more energy-efficient around your home can also reap financial rewards. Audrey Gallacher, interim chief executive at Energy UK, said: “While switching can be a way to save money, the best way to save money in the longer term is through energy efficiency. So, while we are managing the challenges thrown at us from the current lockdown, I’d encourage people to consider whether they could be saving money by being more energy efficient and help the environment at the same time.”

Quick tips such as using low energy light bulbs, turning electrical devices off (rather than on standby) and using less water in the kettle each time can all add up to big savings. You can find out other ways to be more energy efficient in our article Save money on your energy bills.

What happens if my energy supplier goes bust?

If your energy supplier goes bust, any credit balance you have with them is protected and guaranteed by the energy regulator, which will then assign you to a new energy supplier. Your energy supply won’t be disrupted and you won’t notice any change, other than being notified about your new supplier. 

Can I switch energy providers if I’m on a prepayment meter?

Don’t assume you won’t be able to switch energy suppliers if you have a prepayment meter. With this type of meter, you pay up front for your energy before you actually use it. This is usually done by adding money to a ‘key’ or smart card, which you then insert into the meter.

If you have a standard credit meter, you are usually billed monthly or quarterly based on meter readings which are shown on your meter either in dial or digital form. Your energy supplier will usually send a meter reader to your home once or twice a year to check your meter readings are up to date and accurate.

You can still switch suppliers if you have a prepayment meter, as long as you don’t have more than £500 of debt owing on the meter. However, the best energy deals are usually only available to people with credit meters, so it might be worth asking your existing supplier if you can switch over to one.

Have you switched energy suppliers recently, or are you looking at other ways to reduce your energy bills? You can join the money conversation on the Rest Less community or leave a comment below.

Take our 5 minute energy saving challenge

According to Energy regulator Ofgem, just over half of UK households are on expensive default energy tariffs; switching to a better energy deal today could save you up to £245* a year.

*10% of customers that applied to switch via the DT Partner Network could save at least £245.33, April-June 2021.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.


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