GUIDE TO SWITCHING ENERGY SUPPLIERS
Each year as winter approaches the news that energy prices are on the rise is becoming a familiar story. Price hikes appear to be an annual occurrence, but consumers can avoid the pain of yearly rises by switching providers.
IT’S SIMPLE TO SWITCH: Switching electricity and gas supplier may seem daunting, but using a comparison site like Mymoneycomparison.com can take away the hassle by searching the market for you. For those who have never done it before, haven’t switched for some time or do not pay by direct debit, the chances are that there is money to be saved!
Switching energy suppliers does not involve having to have new pipes, cables or meters fitted and can be set up online for free. Home ownership does not affect the ability to switch – both those that own their home and those that rent can switch to save money.
There are several ways to save: switching to a fixed tariff; switching from one provider to another; or simply changing to a direct debit payment where an estimated fixed amount is paid every month.
HOW TO GO ABOUT IT:
Before switching supplier make sure that the existing supplier will not charge a fee for cancelling. Exit fees are quite common for capped or fixed cost tariffs as most of them are for a set period of time.
Use a comparison site like Mymoneycomparison.com to research what deals are available. To get a quote you will need:
- Details of the current supplier, the name of the tariff you are currently on and how bills are paid (i.e. pre-payment meter, direct debit, etc).
- How much energy is currently consumed or what is currently being spent – this can be found on a recent bill.
- Your address and postcode.
- If a decision is made to switch supplier, bank details will be needed.
If it is not possible to find a recent bill, prices can still be compared using estimated consumption figures.
All of the details will need to be put into an online form. Once the form is submitted it will return a list of the latest deals available that match the criteria entered. Most providers will offer a fixed or variable rate tariff. As the name implies, with variable rate tariffs the unit cost of energy can go up or down; on a fixed tariff the price per unit of electricity and gas is set for a fixed period.
Once a decision has been made on a new supplier and tariff the application process can take place online and everything will be handled by the energy companies. The new energy supplier will contact the existing supplier and inform them and, following this, meter readings will be requested from the applicant and any outstanding bills will need to be settled. An applicant will normally receive confirmation from the new supplier within 24 hours and the switching process normally takes around 2-6 weeks. All suppliers offer a “cooling off” period of around 12-14 days during which time the switch can be cancelled.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Those who are considering a fixed tariff need to be comfortable with signing up for the fixed term over which the contract runs. Make sure you are aware of the tie-in period.
Do not assume that “dual fuel” (having gas and electricity from one supplier) is the cheapest option. When shopping around, check suppliers separately too. Likewise, if a household only has electricity, it is still a worthwhile exercise to compare prices for just this one utility.
WHAT TO DO IF ANYTHING GOES WRONG:
In the rare cases where something goes wrong, contact the new energy supplier. Keep a note of all dates and times of contact. If the situation is not resolved after eight to twelve weeks the energy ombudsman can be contacted.