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How to switch your supplier for gas and electricity

How to switch your supplier for gas and electricity

To switch energy suppliers, you only need your postcode, a recent energy bill (or ability to answer a few lifestyle and/or home size questions) and about 10 minutes. You can switch your gas and electricity energy supplier by phone or online with a trusted energy price comparison site — Uswitch explains how.

Why pay more for the same energy?

Switch to a better energy deal in minutes

Those who have never switched energy supplier before often believe it to be a painful, confusing process. But by using an Ofgem accredited energy comparison website like Uswitch, you'll be surprised just how easy it is — and yes, you really can save hundreds of pounds a year by changing energy plans.

How to switch energy supplier online

Step 1: Go to an accredited energy price comparison website

Check the website is accredited by energy regulator Ofgem under their Confidence Code. This means you'll get a free, informative and comprehensive view of the energy market that is up to Ofgem's standards.

Step 2: Enter your postcode

Gas and electricity prices are set regionally, and some suppliers only serve certain areas. This will narrow down which plans and suppliers are available to you.

Step 3: Enter your usage information

For the most accurate comparison results, you'll need to input your household's consumption details. You can get those off your most recent energy bill, or you can estimate them by answering questions about your lifestyle.

If you have a bill but can't find the info you need, check out our guide on how to read your energy bill or watch the video below.

  • Read the Transcript

    Amy: Hi Tom, I’ve got my energy bill here. It’s very confusing. I need some help because there’s a lot of numbers. I don’t know what information I need to get from it. And, I want to switch but I don’t really know where to start.

    Tom: I’m not surprised. It’s incredibly complicated, there’s loads of different terms that no normal person really understands. The good news is, though, if you do persevere, and we can help go through your bill and pick out some of those important facts, the good news is that there are hundreds of pounds worth of savings available if you can manage it.

    Amy: That’s good. I could do a lot with that haha.

    Tom: So is this your bill?

    Amy: Yes.

    Tom: Cool. Okay, I see you’re with British Gas. They’re the largest supplier, and they’re one of the example bills that we’ve got on our website. Do you know what tariff you’re on?

    Amy: No, I don’t think so.

    Tom: Okay, cool. So, it tells you here (points at bill). It says that you’re on their standard tariff. Now, a supplier’s standard tariff is essentially their most rubbish tariff that you’re going to be on if you’ve never done anything about it. So, if you’ve never switched, it’s their kind of default tariff. There’s no benefits, there’s no security, and the prices aren’t particularly cheap. So, if you can, it’s good to get off that as quickly as possible.

    Amy: Right.

    Tom: Do you know how you pay for your energy?

    Amy: Yes. I know I pay by Direct Debit but I don’t really know how much.

    Tom: Okay, well it tells you here. You’re paying a monthly direct debit, which is good. That’s one of the cheaper ways to pay, and you’re paying £116 per month.

    Amy: Okay.

    Tom: This is the one to really pay attention to. This is your actual usage of gas in the last 12 months. So that’s 16,266kWh. Now that’s slightly above average use, but it’s generally consistent with what people do use. And, that’s what you need to switch. So you don’t need your unit rate, you don’t need your standing charge, but it is helpful to know how much you’ve used over the last 12 months. And then all of that information we’ve just discussed; there’s another page and that gives you all of the same information for electricity.

    Amy: Right.

    Tom: So, again you have your annual consumption, you have your standing charge, and you have your unit rates.

    Amy: Okay.

    Tom: I imagine this is a bit of a mind boggle but the very last thing which I want to show you, which you sometimes need, very rarely but you sometimes need, are your meter numbers.

    Amy: Okay. Why would I need that to switch?

    Tom: So your meter number is a number that uniquely defines your meter. So, it makes absolutely certain that your electricity meter is switched rather than your neighbour’s.

    Amy: Okay.

    Tom: Which is good. So, in 99.5% of cases, we can just look up your meter number and find it and you won’t have to worry about it at all. So chances are you’ll never have to worry about this. But in the rare occasion that we do ask you for it, it’s here on the last page of your bill.

    Amy: Oh right so I don’t have to go and find my meter in my house.

    Tom: Oh no, no, it’s on your bill. You don’t have to go hunting in dark, cold cupboards anywhere.

    Amy: Okay good.

    Tom: So this is your gas meter number here. And then this is your electricity meter number here.

    Amy: The whole thing, like that?

    Tom: The whole thing, just like that. And actually, when you go through our site it will be presented like that and there will be little bits for you to fill in.

    Amy: Okay, that’s clear.

    Tom: Yes.

    Amy: Thanks Tom, I feel like I understand my energy bill a lot better now.

    Tom: Great, and if you have any other questions you can probably find the answers on our website, or you can give us a call.

Step 4: Review your comparison results and pick a new plan

This is the part many people find daunting - picking a plan and supplier from the long list of options

If you're overwhelmed by the options there are ways to refine your results, using filters.

  • You can opt to just see plans the site can switch you to.
  • You can view only fixed rate energy plans (where your kWh rate is locked in for a year or so).
  • You can view only plans without an early exit fee (cancellation fee).

Some sites offer further helpful information such which plan is most popular in your region or info about suppliers' customer service.

Step 5: Confirm your switch

Once you've picked your new energy supplier and plan, the last step is to confirm that switch by providing your full address and bank details (if you've chosen a direct debit plan, which is usually the cheapest option).

That's it! Your new supplier will be alerted to their new customer, then will contact you after the two week cooling off period with follow up information about your service switchover date.

How to switch and change energy supplier

What happens afterwards?

What can you expect after you switch supplier? Here are a few common questions answered:

Will my energy supply be interrupted when I switch supplier?

No. Regardless of what supplier you're with your gas and electricity will be the same, the only thing that changes is how that energy is charged. Even though you switch supplier you'll still be getting the same physical energy. There won't be any an interruption to your supply, and nobody coming round to your house to put in new pipes or cables. The only thing that changes is the company that bills you.

Am I with my new supplier as soon as I confirm my switch?

No. The entire process takes 17 days (three days plus a two week cooling off period). Your new energy supplier will contact your old supplier and agree a switch over date which they will let you know about. If you've switched gas and electricity, the dates may be different for each. Don’t worry though, you will always receive energy during this process.

Will I hear from my new energy supplier?

You'll receive a welcome pack and letter from your new supplier. This will outline what you've agreed to and give you the details of your new plan. You may also hear from your old supplier but the only thing you need to give them is your final meter reading to ensure an accurate final bill.

Will I be billed twice?

No. The companies agree a switch over date , so provided you've cancelled your Direct Debit, you will not be billed twice.

What if I change my mind?

You have a cooling off period of 14 days. If you decide that you no longer want to switch your supplier, just contact your new supplier and let them know. They will be able to cancel the switch for you without interrupting your supply.

Can I switch suppliers again?

You can switch suppliers every 28 days if you want to, but be careful to check for cancellation charges. We recommend checking your status once or twice a year to make sure you're still getting the best plan. If you're on a fixed term plan, with a fixed tariff rate until a given date, it's also worth making a note of the end date so you can switch around a month before.

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