Switching energy supplier is hard, right? Wrong!
By Rachel England Thursday 26 September 2013
Energy prices are rising and you’re not sure you’re getting the best deal anymore, but switching energy supplier seems like too much of a stress, right? Well, you’re in good company: nearly 40% of customers that haven't switched before are put off by the perceived hassle of it all. But you’d be wrong! Changing your energy supplier is actually pretty straightforward, and definitely worth considering: according to new figures, consumers are paying an astonishing £3.9 billion more than they have to simply be not being on the best tariffs.
Let’s start by clearing up some common myths.
Don’t I have to manage the switching process myself?
Nope. Despite 46% of consumers believing they have to sort out all the nitty gritty themselves, all you have to do is make the call, and your new supplier will take it from there.
But won’t I end up having to pay two suppliers for the energy I use?
This is an understandable worry given the high prices of energy, but you’ll never have to pay more than one supplier at a time, since your old supplier will pass over meter readings to your new supplier on the day of the switch. Just make sure you supply accurate meter readings on the day!
I don’t want my energy supply to be cut off!
It won’t be! This is one of the biggest switching myths around, but you can be rest assured that your supply will be continuous regardless of which company is doing the billing. You won’t notice any change at all, except to your bills!
But workmen will have to come to my house to change pipes and stuff, right?
Nope. No workmen, no pipe changing, no digging. Your original pipes, meter and wires will all stay in place and gas and electricity will be delivered in exactly the same way as before.
Okay, I’m convinced! Now what do I do?
So before you start looking for a new energy deal, it’s helpful to gather together the following information:
- Your postcode
- Your current gas and electricity supplier and the name of your tariff
- A recent energy bill showing how much energy you use in kilowatt hours (kWh)
There are several ways you can find out about other suppliers and their offers.
- Through advertisements on TV and in the press
- Through the websites of suppliers you're interested in
- Through leaflets and flyers posted through your door
- Through price comparison websites
It’s usually quickest and easiest to use a price comparison website to see what deals will suit you best. Simply input your information and the site will calculate applicable offers. You can then see how they compare to your current supplier and make a new choice if you wish (remember, choosing a new deal could save you hundreds of pounds a year!)
The comparison site will either guide you through the switching application process, or you could ring the new supplier directly. They’ll manage everything for you, and you should be completely switched within four to six weeks. The only things you’ll need to do are:
- Pay your final bill to your old supplier
- Cancel any Direct Debits you have with your old supplier
- Take a final meter reading
It’s worth noting that if you have outstanding bills or debts with your current supplier, you may not be able to switch until these are paid off.
How do I pick the right tariff?
There are a bamboozling number of tariffs available, so usually the hardest part of switching is picking the right one. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- What are the payment options? Some tariffs will reward you with slightly better deals if you pay by Direct Debit, but you may have to commit to monthly payments to qualify.
- What are the contract terms and conditions? There may be fees involved in call-outs, late payments or if you wish to cancel your services – read the fine print!
- Are there any other benefits or special offers? New customer deals can seem attractive, but take into account how much the tariff will cost you in the long run.
- How does the supplier perform against others? Customer service is important – you don’t want to rack up your phone bill trying to get through to a human if there’s a problem! Look at review sites and ask friends and family for their experiences of particular suppliers before you commit.
I’m still not sure...
Then take a look at our awesome infographic on switching energy suppliers.These stats might convince you that making the switch is the best thing you can do for your wallet!