Switching energy suppliers is one of the easiest ways to lower energy bills and keep more money in your pocket. Although switching is quick and hassle free some people are unsure about whether they can switch or when is the best time to think about a new deal.
Can I switch my energy supplier?
Yes, you can choose who supplies electricity or gas to your home. Comparing tariffs and suppliers with Power to Switch is the best way to find a better deal.
When is the best time to switch energy supplier?
Generally speaking, you can switch whenever you like, but it is worth checking out whether you are on a contract with your existing supplier first. Often to leave a contract early will mean paying an exit fee.
Can I switch…if I am in a contract with my current supplier?
If you are already on a discount rate with your current supplier there may be an exit fee if you decide to leave the deal early. Most discount deals come with a 12-month contract so an exit fee will only be payable in the first year.
It’s important to check if an exit fee applies to your current deal. If there is no exit fee you are free to leave whenever you want without attracting a charge.
Although an energy supplier may require an exit fee if you decide to leave a deal early, they cannot stop your switch to another supplier. Sometimes the savings with a new deal will be greater than the cost of your old deal even with an exit fee included.
Once your initial contract term has ended your current supplier cannot charge you an exit fee.
Can I switch…if I am coming to the end of a discount deal?
If you are on a discount deal, a great time to look for a new deal is just before your contract period ends. It can take around 3 weeks to complete your switch to a new supplier so looking around for a new deal as your contract ends means you can swap to another money saving deal.
And don’t worry about having to pin a reminder in your diary to look for another deal.
Energy suppliers should provide you with notice between 21 and 42 days before their end of the contract term. This will tell you the actual date your discount ends and the tariff rate (usually their standard or default rate) that you will be transferred to. This is a great prompt to search out a better deal and switch.
Can I switch…if I’m out of contract or on a standard rate?
If you are not on any contract it’s likely you will save by switching and there will be no exit fee.
After the initial contract period, you are free to switch supplier without any exit fee. And as many suppliers move you to their higher standard rate after the discount term has ended it makes sense to switch to a better deal.
Lots of people don’t take control of their energy bills – this means they remain on a suppliers’ standard tariff for years paying hundreds of pounds more than they need to. In Northern Ireland, energy suppliers are required to send you an annual prompt if you’ve been on the same tariff for three years or more. So, if you receive this notice, use it’s as a kickstart to switching to a better deal.
Can my energy supplier stop me from switching?
In most cases, suppliers cannot stop you from switching. If there is a better deal then you will be able to move to it.
It is possible for your current energy supplier to block your switch if you owe money to them. In Northern Ireland this ‘debt flagging’ will apply if you try to switch suppliers when you have outstanding payments which are £100 or more.
What do you need to switch?
To start switching energy suppliers, you’ll need the following information:
- Current gas and electricity supplier, and the name of your tariff (look at your latest bill, or contact your supplier).
- How much you spend (or use in kilowatt hours – kWh) on gas or electricity. You can find this on a recent bill or the annual energy statement sent by your supplier.
- Your bank details if you decide to switch and want to pay by direct debit.
Even if you don’t have a recent bill to hand, you can still compare and switch energy deals using an estimated energy figure. In Northern Ireland we provide 3 options to choose from if you don’t know how much you spend. These are based on different types of homes and energy users so pick the one that best reflects your situation.
On our results page, you can compare the latest deals. We list supplier and tariff details including any promotions or cashback offers, as well as the annual cost and savings compared to your current deal.