Notifying your supplier of an energy switch

Do I need to tell my supplier I'm leaving it?

When you’ve found a better energy deal and are ready to make the switch, do you need to notify your supplier? There’s no need to ring it up directly, but there are a few things you can do to make the transition run more smoothly. Here’s what you need to do when you change energy suppliers. 

Reasons to switch energy provider

There are loads of reasons to consider changing suppliers. If you’re currently coming up to the end of a fixed-term plan or are in the process of moving to a new house, it’s worth comparing your options. Even if you’re on a standard plan, you can save money to the tune of hundreds of pounds a year simply by changing energy plans. 

The process only takes a matter of minutes, provided you use a switching service regulated by Ofgem. First check to see the service has committed to Ofgem’s Confidence Code, a professional code of practice used to govern energy price comparison sites which, if they follow the Code, commit to displaying fair, unbiased results. So, whether you’re on a green-friendly plan or prepayment tariff, you’ll have additional options to choose from that suit your individual situation. 

First steps: getting started

Once you’ve made the decision to switch energy providers, there’s no need to notify your current supplier just yet. You will need to gather some information before you use an energy comparison website. If you have a recent energy bill handy, this will cover all your bases. The main information you’ll need is your postcode and the name of your current gas and electricity supplier. You’ll be asked about your current plan and usage, but don’t worry if you don’t have the specifics because you can answer a series of basic lifestyle questions instead. Finally, it doesn’t hurt to have your bank details ready to sign up for Direct Debit. 

The final thing to check before you make the switch is whether there’s a cancellation fee if you have a fixed term plan. This is one instance where you might need to ring your current supplier, if you can’t find the information on your utility bill.

How does switching supplier work?

Once you’ve gathered the relevant information, switching suppliers is a straightforward process. 

  1. Enter your details into the comparison site. This will show the details available specifically within your postcode. 

  2. Plug in your energy usage details from your current plan to narrow the plans down to those that suit your household consumption. 

  3. Compare energy prices, select a plan and confirm your switch by setting up a new account. You’ll need to enter in your address and bank details for the smoothest transition. 

Compare energy prices: what to look for

When you compare energy prices, you’ll see a wide range of different price points and features. The choice can be overwhelming at first, but you can apply filters to refine the selection and make it easier. Here are a few of the main options: 

Fixed rate deals

The cheapest prices on gas and electricity are usually part of fixed rate energy deals. These lock in energy prices for a set time period of usually one or two years. You’ll avoid changes in price due to fluctuations in global supply and demand, which can lead to more predictable, stable rates. 

Flexible rates 

The downside of fixed rate deals is that they usually charge a cancellation fee if you decide to leave the plan and switch energy providers before the contract has ended. If flexibility is important to you, a variable or standard rate might be a better choice. These usually cost more, but they offer greater freedom. 

Timed use rates

As you compare energy prices, you might see Economy 7 or Economy 10 plans listed as well. These offer a two-tiered pricing system. You’ll be charged less for energy used during certain hours of the evening, and a higher rate for usage during daylight hours. 

Green friendly plans

Are you always on the hunt for ways to improve your efficiency at home? Green tariffs offer energy sourced from renewable supplies, including solar and wind power. They’ll usually be higher in price, but you’ll lower your carbon footprint in the process. 

Prepayment meter rates

Some people like having the security of always knowing exactly what they’re paying for their energy, in advance. A pay-as-you-go plan with a prepayment meter would be a good option in this case. It’s also the best option if you have outstanding energy debt, as your debt can be paid off in small increments. 

Compare all these options to find a plan that is the best fit for your household, in terms of price as well as flexibility and other features. 

Who to contact when you change energy supplier

If you use an accredited site to compare energy prices, there’s no need to contact your supplier at any point in the process. After you’ve compared deals and completed the switching request, the comparison site will contact the new supplier on your behalf. They’ll get in touch with your current supplier to arrange the switchover date for a smooth transition. 

One thing to remember is that you’ll need to provide meter readings to both your new and old provider on the switchover day, to make sure there are no discrepancies in your billing. 

What happens after the switch?

With the current and new supplier working together to arrange the switchover, you won’t experience any power outages. There’s also no need for engineers to visit to replace cables or pipes. When you switch electricity supplier the process should be seamless, because the supply is simply distributed through the same channels. 

You’ll receive a welcome pack from your new energy supplier with all the relevant details about your choice of plan. You’ll have two weeks to change your mind without penalty, so you’re always free to continue hunting around for a better deal during this time. 

When you do need to contact your supplier

In most cases, there’s no need to contact your old energy supplier before, during or after your switch, apart from sending over a final meter reading. However, there are a few exceptions where it might be better to get in touch. 

You’re switching before the end of a fixed term contract 

If you’re currently on a fixed rate plan, it’s possible you’ll be charged a cancellation fee. If you suspect this is the case, you might need to contact your current supplier to verify what the terms are. If you’d prefer to switch gas supplier before the time is up and just pay the fee, there’s no need for any advance notification.

You wish to switch to a different type of meter

From standard to prepayment, there are loads of different meters to choose from. If you have a prepayment meter installed but wish to switch over to a smart or standard meter, you can contact your current supplier to make the switch. They may offer better deals as enticement – but it’s always good to check on a comparison website first. 

You believe that you’re owed a refund

When you switch electricity suppliers, they’ll use your history of energy consumption to estimate future figures. This is how the plan’s rates are worked out. However, many of us end up using less or more energy than these estimated figures, in which case it’s possible to build up credit or debt. It’s also natural to use less energy during the summer months. During this time, you build credit for energy paid for but not used. This credit is used to reduce your bills in the winter when consumption increases. 

So, what happens when you change energy suppliers with credit left in your account? This should be refunded to you. It’s important to take a final meter reading and submit it for a more accurate final bill, but unfortunately, it’s still quite common to be owed money by your former supplier. All the big six suppliers have committed to a new My Energy Credit campaign with the intended goal of returning unused credit to consumers. If something doesn’t look right with that former bill or you think you’re owed a refund, this is a great time to get in touch with your energy supplier. 

In most cases, there’s no need to notify your supplier as part of the change-over process. The energy comparison site will do this on your behalf, and most consumers experience a smooth, fuss-free transition to a new plan. 

Bjorn GriffithDec 9th 2019