Energy switching the smoothest way possible

7 min read
August 20, 2020

We’ve heard the message time and again. If you switch your energy supplier, you are likely to save money. But many of us don’t. Perhaps we fear that it’s too difficult, or that something will go wrong? 

If you’ve decided to go for it, we’ve put together this handy checklist to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. You can also find out more details of your switching rights, in brief, below or if you want to know the top suppliers for customer service, take a look at the latest from Resolver’s data of more than 26,000 cases.

Get your switch in order

Check your address is correct – and correctly registered with your supplier

Make sure every part of your address – including your postcode – is correct as if not this can be an immediate hold up for you switching. You should also check before you switch that your address is correctly registered as ‘residential’. 

Sometimes people get their switch rejected because their address is registered as ‘commercial’ premises – perhaps if it’s a recent conversion. If you think this may happen, get in touch with your current supplier before you switch to check. This may take up to 30 days to correct.

Have the basic information to hand

Make sure you know who your current supplier is, and the name of the tariff you are currently on. This is possibly tricky to do if for example, you’ve just moved or are about to move house, or if you’ve switched a number of times and need to double-check.

Be aware that your suppliers for gas and electricity may be different. You can find out your electricity supplier by contacting your electricity network distributor – find out here who that is as it depends on where you live. If you’re unsure of your gas supplier, contact the Meter Point Helpline on 0870 608 1524.

You’ll also be asked how much energy you’re using. Don’t rely on your last bill. You’ll almost certainly use more energy in the winter than the summer so it’s worth taking an average using two or more of your recent bills.

Beat the meter jargon

You may have a ‘standard’ meter but if not your switch may be blocked. How can you tell? In short, here are the likely options to check:

  • Economy 7/10 meter: if your bill has two electricity readings (for example, ‘day’ and ‘night’) and your Meter Point Administration Number begins 02, it’s likely you have an Economy 7 or Economy 10 plan.
  • Prepayment meter: if you’re paying for energy ‘as you go’ and you have to top up your energy using a top-up card or online then your meter is a prepayment meter.
  • Smart meter: If your meter is set up to tell your supplier how much energy you’re using, so you have no need to give or receive manual readings, then you have a smart meter. There are two types – ‘first gen’ and ‘second gen’ – and you may need a new one installed if you have one already and want to switch.

If you have one of these meters and don’t inform your soon-to-be new supplier, this can block your switch, as they may not be compatible with your new provider’s systems, so it’s worth checking before you apply and finding out your options.

Have the correct meter numbers

You’ll also be asked to provide ‘meter numbers’. This can cause confusion and providing the wrong meter number is a common reason for switches being rejected. So to help you uncut the jargon:

  • Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN or ‘S’ number) – relates to your electricity, is 13 digits long and begins with ‘S’
  • Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) – relates to your gas, is six to 10 digits long and begins with ‘M’

Be clear what you owe your current supplier

You don’t have to pay a ‘fee’ to switch supplier (unless you’re switching earlier than 49 days before your current fixed tariff ends), but you will have to pay your previous supplier any money you owe them for energy you’ve used. If you’ve been in debt with your supplier for less than 28 days you shouldn’t be blocked from switching – longer than this and you will have to pay your old supplier what you owe them first to complete the switch. But you still can’t be stopped from switching after you’ve paid.

It’s slightly different with prepayment meters – here you can switch providing you don’t owe more than £500 on either your gas or electricity supply. Your new supplier will take on that ‘debt’ and you can continue to pay it through them. 

To make sure your final bills are correct, have your final meter readings to hand – your new supplier will ask for them as part of the switching process (usually around two weeks after you have applied to switch). 

Had switching problems? Use Resolver for free to raise your issue

Your rights: switching energy

Want to know your rights around switching your supplier? Have you had problems in the switching process and want to know if you’re entitled to compensation? For full details take a look at our energy rights guide, or get information about your specific issue in brief below. 


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