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What happens when you switch energy supplier?

Unsure about what happens when you switch to another energy supplier? We’ve compiled answers to some frequently asked questions about how the switchover process works.

27 June 2023Sophie Murray 5 min read
Image by Pierre Chatel Innocenti on Unsplash

Want to save money on energy?

Compare gas and electricity deals.

Switch in minutes

A lot of people aren’t sure about making the move to another energy supplier because they worry it could be a hassle to organise the switchover. But when you switch to a new energy deal online, your new supplier will handle everything for you. We’ve answered some common questions about how switching works.

People often switch their energy supplier to get a lower price. But there are other reasons that may be important to you, such as customer service, the environmental friendliness of the energy sources (some offer 100% wind energy, for example), or the flexibility of the energy tariff.

For your part, the only difference you will notice after switching is the new company's name on your energy bill.

And when switching suppliers, you do not need to worry about losing power: you will not be without gas or electricity at any point. Keep in mind that your energy (gas and electricity) supplier is not the same as the local utility companies that maintain the wires and pipes connecting power to your home. Those remain the same no matter which supplier you choose.

Changing suppliers is an option for everyone, so it doesn’t matter if you own your home or rent it.

Cheap energy deals typically begin with a low introductory rate for a fixed period. When that period ends, your supplier will automatically move you to a standard variable tariff, which is usually more expensive. It’s important to check deals regularly to see if you could save money by switching to another supplier. You can compare energy deals by checking your ClearScore offers.

The main reason Brits don’t switch their energy supplier is that they haven’t shopped around. Even though their potential savings are well worth the effort.

This procrastination is our undoing, and completely unnecessary. It’s easy and quick to shop around and switch. A few sites do all the work for you.

If you want to switch suppliers, here’s what you need to do:

1. Gather these bits of info

  • A recent energy bill. You need to know your current supplier and tariff (this is on your bill)
  • Your bank details. This is so you can set up with a new supplier

2. Compare your offers

Did you know? You can compare energy deals on ClearScore. Just tell us what you're looking for, and we'll show you personalised offers.

Just log in and head to your offers.

Or, you can use comparison websites like these:

Energy Helpline, Energylinx, The Energy Shop, My Utility Genius, Runpath, Simply Switch, Switch Gas and Electric, Quotezone, Unravel It, Uswitch, Another good one is Look After My Bills, which always keeps you informed when better energy deals are available. It can also automatically switch you to the best deal when your current deal ends, year after year.

3. Pick one

Once you have found the best deal with the energy comparison sites, you’re nearly done.

These comparison sites not only help you find and compare energy deals, but provide free and easy switching service, including cancelling your old service and transitioning you up to the new one.

It depends on your current contract. If you have a standard variable tariff, you can switch any time for no charge.

If you have a fixed-term energy deal, you may have an exit fee attached if you leave early. But don’t be too concerned, the potential savings of switching to a better deal can still be greater than the fee.

The switchover process will be sorted by your old and new supplier. You don't need to tell your current energy supplier that you’re switching. You’ll get a two-week cooling off period in case you change your mind, after which your new supplier will contact you to tell you when your switch date is.

You can switch suppliers within a month of submitting the switch request. According to UK Power, switching energy suppliers should take no more than 21 days and sometimes only takes 17 days.

Your energy supply won't stop at any time when you switch supplier. The only difference you'll notice will be that your energy bills will come from a different company.

All suppliers use the same facilities to provide your energy, so there’s no need for any work to be carried out in your home when you switch supplier, unless you’re having a smart meter installed.

If you’re on a fixed-rate tariff, it could be worth shopping around so you’re ready to switch when your current rate ends. If you’re within the last 49 days of your tariff, you won’t be charged an exit fee if you switch to a new supplier. If you have more than 49 days left on your tariff, you’ll most likely have to pay an exit fee if you switch.

If you’re on a pre-paid tariff where you top-up your meter using tokens, a pre-pay card or a key, you could save money by either switching to a cheaper pre-paid tariff or swapping your pre-payment meter for a standard meter. Pre-paid tariffs are usually more expensive than other tariffs, and there’s also less choice when it comes to pre-paid tariffs, so switching to a standard meter will open up a greater choice of options to you.

Is switching energy suppliers worth it? Often, yes. But how frequently should you do it?

Check the terms and conditions of your contract, as there may be penalties for switching in less than a year. The most sensible course is to look once per year for cheaper alternatives. Or use an auto-switching service so they can move you to the best deals when it makes financial sense to switch.

Traditionally your gas and electricity meters have been hidden, out of sight, and sometimes near impossible to locate. And if we’re honest with ourselves, you never really knew how much you were consuming until you needed to update your meter readings. Smart meters remove this need. Usually paired with a Smart Display, smart meters use the latest technology to track and report on your energy consumption so it’s directly visible to you and your energy supplier.

And the best part is suppliers install smart meters at no extra cost to you and the work is done professionally by trained engineers.

Benefits of a smart meter

Say goodbye to estimated bills and hello to better budgeting‍

Smart meters track your actual energy usage, making estimated bills – and nasty surprises - a thing of the past. This makes it easier to budget too.

Understand and take back control of your energy usage

With a smart meter you can see how your actions impact your daily energy consumption in real time. By using a Smart Display or mobile app you can track your energy balance and see how your usage impacts your available credit.

Don’t overpay for your energy

It’s simple to manage your usage and credit with a Pay As You Go Smart Energy tariff. What’s more, you’ll only pay for the energy you use – and not a penny more.

Don’t waste time and energy travelling to the shops to top-up

Smart meters allow you to top-up anytime, anywhere – or just from the comfort of your settee if you prefer.

Better for the environment and your pocket

Evolving technology means you have better visibility on how much energy you use throughout the day, helping households to save money and do their bit for the planet.

Smart meters also allow suppliers to better manage the supply of energy to households, giving the National Grid an accurate picture of demand which, in turn, reduces energy wastage.

Smart meters are perfect for PAYG energy users. They negate the need to visit the local shop with a USB to top-up and often come with many more features to help manage energy usage.

Sophie Murray Image

Written by Sophie Murray

Global Editorial Manager

Sophie is our editorial expert who makes information about personal finance easier to understand.