Switching energy suppliers – the myths and facts

5 min read
February 05, 2021

Switching energy suppliers is far from a new concept, but it’s one that still eludes many – and for many reasons. Some of us simply don’t want to rock the boat, some of us are convinced we’re on the best deal already and some of us have concerns about the process.

The fact is, if you feel able to make the move, it is likely to save you money, particularly if you are in one of the millions of households on a default/standard variable tariff – often your current provider’s basic and more expensive tariff. This is common after your contract on a fixed deal has ended (so if you’ve been with your supplier for more than a year) or you’ve never switched.

The energy price cap – which today Ofgem announced is to be set at £1,138 from April 2021 – seeks to put a cap on the amount your supplier can charge you per kWh (kilowatt-hour) for your gas and electricity. Bear in mind that while it means that your cost per unit is set at a maximum, your annual bill is also dependent on how much energy you use.  

The energy price cap affects those on standard tariffs or prepayment meters and the latest announcement means that people on standard tariffs could see their bills rise by up to £96 (if you’re on a prepayment meter, the cap is rising by £87 to £1,156). So it’s definitely worth shopping around to see if you can save. It’s completely understandable to feel that switching suppliers is shrouded with mystery and is complicated – but really, for many, it’s the easiest process possible. 

We’ve put together a few of the questions – and myths – we’ve heard about switching suppliers to untangle the facts from the fiction. If after this, you’ve decided to take the plunge, then why not take a look at our quick tips to make sure your energy switch is the smoothest possible

Won’t switching cost me money?

The fact is, you will never be charged to switch a supplier and you should see no hidden charges. If you switch either directly or through a comparison site such as MoneySavingExpert’s Cheap Energy Club, you will not be charged to make the change.

The only charge you may incur is an exit fee if you switch from your old supplier before the end of your contract, but even then, that doesn’t come into play once your contract has 49 days or less left to run, in what is known as the ‘switching window’. So if you’re out of contract, or even if you are still under one but there’s only seven weeks – or less – left, then you can switch free of charge.

Energy suppliers should inform you if your fixed contract is coming to an end – expect this between 42 and 49 days before the end of your contract. But if you’re unsure, give them a call – it helps if you have your account number to hand, which you’ll find on your most recent bill.

Won’t I be cut off while I wait for my new supplier?

Your energy supply will not be interrupted while your switch is happening so you will continue to have energy throughout the switch process.

Won’t I lose any credit I had with my old energy supplier?

You won’t – and if your old supplier is holding back your cash, you will even be able to get compensation. Your final bill from your old supplier will be set to finish on the switch completion date. If you don’t receive it within six weeks of that date, you will automatically be compensated £30. If after you receive your final bill, any credit owed to you is not paid within 10 days, you can also claim £30 as compensation. In these situations, your old supplier will be the one paying out.

Won’t I be left without energy if my new supplier goes bust?

You won’t lose power just because your supplier has. Ofgem has safeguards in place to ensure that if your supplier goes bust, then you are not affected in terms of your energy supply. Ofgem will move you to a different supplier and you should notice no difference. The advice, should this happen, is to take a meter reading and do nothing until your new supplier has contacted you.

Won’t switching my energy supplier take ages?

Most switches are complete within 17 days – it can take up to 21. However, if your switch has taken longer than 15 working days to complete than you are entitled to get compensation from your new supplier of £30.

Won’t someone need to come to my home and install equipment?

You won’t need any work – new pipes or equipment – in your home to switch your energy supplier. The whole process is managed by your new supplier and there will be no disruption to your home. This is only slightly different if you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff and you want to move away from these types of tariff as part of the switch. In this case, you may need a new meter installed. 

If you’re on a prepayment tariff you should also be able to switch with no hassle, providing you owe less than £500 and you’ve been in debt with your current supplier for less than 28 days.

But what if my switch goes wrong?

As with anything, sometimes a problem can occur. If you feel that the switch you’ve made was a mistake, you do have a 14-day cooling off period to ask for the switch to be cancelled, starting from the day a contract is agreed. 

And what if you’ve tried to switch, but it’s been rejected? There could be a number of reasons – but we can help. Our switch rejection tool will help you make the next move depending on why you’ve been told your switch has been rejected.

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