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Switching small energy supplier

Switching to a small energy supplier

You can switch to a small energy supplier with uSwitch — but not all small suppliers are created equal. Here's what you need to know about small energy suppliers before you switch.

In 2013, energy regulator Ofgem unveiled its plans to 'create a more level playing field' for small suppliers in an effort to shake up the market and pave the way for more competition.

And since that year, more than 20 new suppliers have entered the energy market, leaving consumers to navigate not just plans, but suppliers as well. Find out what you need to know before switching to a small supplier

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But first, the basics: the term small suppliers — sometimes referred to as independent suppliers — is generally used to describe any energy supplier that is NOT the big six, which provide energy to 91% of the UK's households.

These small suppliers generally have 250,000 customers or fewer, though some larger independent suppliers, like OVO Energy and First Utility, are more established and have several thousand more.

The pros and cons of small energy suppliers

Pros

Small suppliers are able to offer cheap energy deals because have they have a smaller overhead than more established suppliers. They are also not held to the same costly obligations that large suppliers are, such as paying into government schemes like ECO.

Cons

Making it easier to enter the market has its downsides. In 2015 alone, more than 10 new suppliers began offering plans to consumers. And, while these suppliers were able to arrive on the market with cheap-as-chips plans, consumers had little to no info about who these suppliers were.

Meanwhile, with exposure through price comparison sites, customers can come flooding in to the brand-new suppliers, which may not have the capacity to process the switches properly — leaving the customer with a poor switching experience that takes longer than it should.

Further, a smaller overhead could also mean a smaller customer service team to handle any issues you might have related to your supply or your switch.

How can I find out more about a particular small supplier?

If you run an energy comparison through uSwitch, information about the supplier is provided in your results on the Plan Info page.

This information includes when the suppliers were established, any warnings such as advance payment requirements and, where available, an independent customer satisfaction score.

You can also use trusted user review sites like Trustpilot to read real experiences and feedback from customers of any given supplier.

Also, our guide to energy suppliers contains an array of information about many energy providers (both large and small) currently available on the market.

What if the supplier can’t provide me with energy anymore?

If you’re worried that a small supplier may go “belly up” on you, you’re not alone. A survey carried out by uSwitch in 2013 revealed that 44% of those contracted to a big six energy supplier would not consider switching to a smaller supplier. Fear and a lack of trust were the main reasons given.

Switching small energy supplier

However, you can rest assured there are rules to protect your household against any energy supplier going bankrupt. Energy regulator Ofgem has enforced a number of regulations and, should there be a problem, you will be switched to a new supplier.

Take back control of your energy bills with uSwitch!

We make it easy to compare and save up to £659

What other factors should I take into consideration?

When comparing energy suppliers you should not just consider price. Different people have different priorities, and your ideal supplier may not necessarily be the least expensive.

Small suppliers may have cheaper deals than their larger competitors but may not offer perks including vouchers, gifts or points. Other elements you might want to take into account are whether or not energy plans use a certain amount of renewable or “green” energy.

Again, our energy provider comparison table has all the information you need to make a decision about switching suppliers.

Read more…

Take back control of your energy bills with uSwitch!

We make it easy to compare and save up to £659