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Switching Energy Supplier 1

Everything You Need To Know About Switching Energy Supplier

Ofgem, the energy regulator, reckon that as a nation, we spent about £30 billion on gas and electricity in 2018. That’s a lot of hot showers, screen time, gas hobs and bedside lamps. But, they also estimate that around 3 in 10 (29%) UK households have never done an energy switch, which leaves a lot of people who stand to gain from finding a new provider. If you’re thinking about switching, whether you’re a first-time switcher or a seasoned pro, you’re certainly not alone. But what do you need to know before you take the plunge? We’ve got the who, what, when, why and how.

Who can switch?

Can tenants switch energy supplier?

Being able to switch energy supplier is possible whether you own your home or rent it. If you’re a renter, though, there are some exceptions. For example, if your landlord takes care of your bills, it’s not your job to switch them, so it’s always worth checking your tenancy agreement. Watch out for restrictions as well – it might be written into your agreement that you’ll let your landlord know if you’re planning to switch, or you may need their permission, although they can’t stop you from switching without a good reason.

You can also change from a prepayment meter to a normal meter, or vice versa, if you’re a renter, as long as you’re the one paying the bills. Again, you might need to get your landlord’s permission, but they can’t stop you without a good reason. They might require you to have the original meters reinstalled when you move out, and you’ll need to cover any fees the energy supplier charges to do this out of your own pocket.

Can I switch energy supplier if I owe money?

If you owe money to your current energy supplier, then you probably won’t be able to switch until you’ve paid it back. But, there are a couple of situations where you should still be able to go ahead. First, if you’ve owed the money for less than 28 days, then your current supplier will usually add the debt to the final bill they send you once your switch is complete. The other situation where you can switch while owing your supplier money is if it’s their fault you owe the money, for example because they’ve calculated your bill wrong.

If you were put on a prepayment meter after falling behind on your payments, then different rules apply, and you’ll likely have to stick to a prepayment meter. If what you owe is less than £500 for gas or £500 for electricity, then you can still switch as long as your new supplier agrees to transfer your debt along with the supply. This is called a “Debt Assignment Protocol”. If you owe more, or if your new supplier won’t transfer the debt, then you’ll have to stay put for the time being.

Can I switch energy supplier with a smart meter?

Having had a smart meter installed with one supplier puts a lot of people off switching again, because they think their meter will stop working. These days, though, this is less often the case. The newer generations of smart meters that most people have will quite happily support a switch, whichever supplier you’re moving from and to.

If you were one of the trailblazers who got an early generation smart meter, though, you might run into issues. But, it’s not the end of the world. The worst case scenario is that the “smart” part of your meter, which automatically sends your meter readings back to your supplier, stops working, and you’ll have to make readings manually again.

When to switch

When can I switch energy supplier without penalty?

When you can switch without having to pay exit or penalty fees really depends on what your deal is with your current supplier. If you took out a tariff that was fixed for a certain amount of time, and the fixed period isn’t over yet, then chances are you’ll need to wait until it is to avoid exit fees.

How to switch energy supplier

Is it easy to switch energy supplier?

These days, switching energy supplier is something so easy you could do it in the ad break of a TV show. Comparison sites make it simple to see all the tariffs on offer from different providers in one go. Then, once you’ve decided who you want to switch to, your new supplier will do virtually everything. They’ll even talk to your old provider to get the supply switched, so you can avoid the awkward phone call and their inevitable last-ditch attempts to get you to stay. All you’ll have to do is provide meter readings when your new supplier asks for them, to make sure you don’t have any billing hiccups.

How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?

Filling in your details to see the options on offer, and then providing the extra info your new supplier needs, takes a matter of minutes, maybe hours if you need to dig up some paperwork you don’t have to hand. Then the switch itself will usually be completed within a few weeks. You won’t even notice it happen on the day, because your supply shouldn’t be interrupted at all. The only difference is your bills will come from someone new.

How to switch with, to or from a prepayment meter

If you have a prepayment meter, you might think you’re excluded from switching. But, there are all sorts of prepayment tariffs on offer, so you could still switch with your existing meter to get a better deal.

If you want to switch from a prepayment meter to a credit meter, or vice versa, then you’ll need to have a new meter installed by an engineer, which can slow the switching process down. Some energy suppliers also charge fees for this. Being able to move from a prepayment meter to a credit meter also depends on you passing your supplier’s eligibility check, which may include a credit check.

Not all comparison sites are set up to let you switch between meter types, so you may need to switch meter with your current supplier before you can hit the comparison sites to find the cheapest tariff available.

The benefits of switching energy supplier

You can save money

According to Ofgem stats, the average person who switches energy supplier could save £305 a year. And that’s the average. If you’re a regular switcher who moves every year or two, of course, your saving could be smaller. But, if you’re a first-timer who’s been on an expensive standard tariff for years, you could save even more!

The chance to go green

Switching to a new energy supplier gives you the chance to choose a green energy tariff. “What’s green energy?” we hear you cry. It’s either energy that comes from renewable sources like solar energy or wind power, or your supplier has committed to environmental projects that will balance out the carbon footprint you create when you use regular sources of energy (like coal, gas, and oil) that they supply. Green energy tariffs tend to cost slightly more than regular energy tariffs, though, so bear this in mind!

Say goodbye to bad customer service

A better deal isn’t the only reason to switch supplier. If you’ve been messed about or left out of pocket by billing mistakes, supply problems or bad customer service, then it might be time to bin off your current supplier in favour of one with a better track record of happy customers. A better overall experience might be worth more to you than a big saving.

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