As a rule of thumb, you should make sure you’re switching as a matter of habit every 12-18 months, or whenever the deal you’re currently on (if you’re on a fixed tariff) comes to an end. If you come off a fixed tariff and you don’t sign up to a new deal yourself, you will probably be rolled onto your supplier’s standard variable tariff, which tends to be the most expensive they offer.
To avoid incurring these higher costs, keep an eye on the calendar and make sure you know when you’re eligible to switch to a new deal according to the terms of the one you’re currently on.
Our video explains more about timing your switch when you're coming to the end of a fixed deal.
As far as the calendar year is concerned, the best time to switch your energy will be before the colder winter months start around October. When the days get shorter and the sun begins setting earlier, you’ll be using more electricity than usual for the lights and more gas than usual to heat your home and stave off the colder temperatures. Making sure you switch before winter should therefore help you spend less on your energy at a time when you’ll be using more of it than usual.
The best time within your contract to switch your energy deal is when you no longer have to pay early exit fees. The amount of time it takes to switch supplier varies, and you could inadvertently end up paying a few days or weeks’ worth of standard variable tariff fees. The process could take up to a month to complete, even with the Energy Switch Guarantee which states that switches should take place within five days. Customers are entitled to switch to a new deal or supplier from 49 days before the end of their contract, with Ofgem stating that exit fees should not be applicable to switches from a fixed-term tariff within that window.
You can keep track of these dates yourself, but suppliers (or price comparison websites, if that’s how you switched) should be alerting you in writing so you don’t need to.
It used to be the case that a price rise would take customers by surprise, with one supplier suddenly putting prices up with other suppliers then following suit. Now, though, there’s likely to be a lot more warning because of the Ofgem price cap. If the cap goes up, suppliers will put their prices up, which will hit customers on standard variable tariffs hard.
It’s important, therefore, that you take notice of what the industry experts are predicting might happen, and switch your energy deal to a fixed tariff before prices go up if you’re not already on one. Generally, though, the new level of the price cap will be announced but not come into effect until a couple of months afterwards, so you should have time to take action.
There are various life changes and developments that could be catalysts for you to change your energy deal for the better. You could switch your energy when you move house, for example. Your energy usage might well change if you have more or fewer rooms; or you might find that your usual energy supplier is not the cheapest in the area you now live in.
Alternatively, if you have children who have left to go to university or moved out permanently, you’ll see your energy usage decrease, which will mean that you may be paying more than you need to. It’s always worth seeing whether your changed circumstances mean that you can save money on your energy. Uswitch makes it as easy as possible for you to do so.
You shouldn’t switch your energy deal when you have to pay an exit fee or penalty which is bigger than the potential saving you could make.
Uswitch makes it easy for you to shop around for a better energy deal. All you need is your postcode and a recent bill to refer to during the process (so we can present you with the most accurate deals based on your energy usage), and we take care of the whole process here once you give us the go-ahead. There’s no need to contact a supplier or leave the Uswitch website.
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