Energy switching myths: debunked

Have you heard any of these energy switching myths?

Making an energy switch to a new supplier is one of the best ways to enjoy the best energy deals. However, precisely how you can switch energy suppliers is not always made clear and there are some myths surrounding the issue that can make it even more confusing for customers. This article looks at some of the common misconceptions that surround your energy switch, and how to make the change as easily as possible. 

Myth: An energy switch isn’t worth the interruption to my energy supply

False. Your energy switch should be totally seamless. Your old and new energy supplier will work together to complete the change, so you will go from one to the other without noticing any disruption in your services at all. 

Myth: There is too much admin involved in switching energy supplier

False. The Energy Switch Guarantee makes it easy to change energy supplier and ensures that you don’t have to do anything more than give your initial permission for the change. Everything else is done by your old and new suppliers. The Energy Switch Guarantee governs your energy switch with the following companies:

  • British Gas

  • Bulb

  • E.ON

  • Ecotricity

  • EDF Energy

  • Energy SW

  • Enstronga

  • Fairer Power

  • Flow Energy

  • M&S Energy

  • npower

  • Octopus Energy

  • Pure Planet

  • Sainsbury's Energy

  • Scottish Power

  • Shell Energy

  • So Energy

  • Southend Energy

  • SSE

  • Tonik Energy

  • Utility Warehouse

The Energy Switch Guarantee requires these suppliers to ensure the following:

  • Your service will not be interrupted at any point in the energy switch

  • You will not be charged to switch energy supplier (though exit fees will still apply if these are a feature of your current tariff)

  • It will take 21 days or less

  • Unless you require a new meter to be installed, there will be no home visits required

  • Your new supplier and new supplier will coordinate, so you don’t have to notify anyone of the switch yourself

  • You will have a 14-day ‘cooling-off’ period to change your mind

  • You won’t be charged twice as your old and new suppliers will work in tandem to end your old plan and start your new one

  • Your new energy supplier will commit to investigating and fixing any issues with the switch

  • Your final bill will arrive within six weeks

  • You will be refunded any money within two weeks of your final bill

Myth: I can’t compare energy tariffs fairly through a comparison service

False. Energy comparison tools are designed to show you the best energy deals from a wide range of suppliers. You can filter your results according to your precise needs – green energy, dual fuel, payment method, and so on – and make your choice. Many comparison tools will also include the estimated pricing for providers that you must contact directly if you want to change energy suppliers, even if selecting them means not using the comparison site. 

Myth: Switching will only save me pennies, not pounds

False. An energy switch in any capacity will almost certainly save you money. Energy suppliers usually save their best energy deals for new customers, so switching over will soon make a big difference to your savings. However, even if you are happy with your current supplier, changing tariffs can also make a big difference. If you are on a variable plan, for example, changing to a fixed plan can save you hundreds of pounds a year.

If you are on a prepaid meter, consider switching supplier for a fixed contract as these are almost always guaranteed to be cheaper than prepaid meters. 

Myth: If I switch energy supplier, I’ll need to have new wires and pipes installed

False. All suppliers use the same delivery pipes and wires to supply your home, and as part of the Energy Switch Guarantee, you will not need to have anyone visit your home to complete an energy switch. The one exception to this will be if you need a new meter installed, like a smart meter, but otherwise the switch will be done remotely without any interruption to your service or home.

Myth: I can’t switch if my energy supplier has gone bust

False. Even when you involuntarily switch energy supplier because your original supplier has gone out of business, your new energy provider will be elected by Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) and you will also be switched with minor disruption. Following this initial switch to keep your power supply intact, you are free to change energy supplier again if you are not happy with Ofgem’s choice.

Myth: When Ofgem switch energy supplier for me, it will be more expensive

Not always. If your energy supplier goes out of business, it is up to Ofgem to step in and make sure customers are transferred to new plans to ensure they are not left without power. Ofgem requires competitor energy companies to bid for these customers, meaning they offer their best energy deals to acquire tens of thousands of customers all at once. 

However, in order to cope with the demand of so many new customers, the new supplier may need to purchase wholesale energy to accommodate them all. In this case, the tariff you have been transferred to, known as a ‘deemed’ contract, may work out pricier than your original energy plan. The new supplier will be in touch to transfer you to a better energy plan. In this case you should accept the offer of their cheapest plan and compare energy tariffs online. You will not be charged an exit fee, so you can change energy supplier again if you find the best energy deals are available elsewhere. 

Myth: Ofgem will transfer me to an untrustworthy ‘emergency’ supplier

Ofgem does not have ‘standby’ energy providers for when it needs to make an energy switch on behalf of failed energy companies; you will only be transferred to reputable suppliers. Most recently this has included transferring customers of failed brand Solarplicity to Toto Energy in August 2019 and Everswitch’s customers to Utilita in September 2019.

Myth: I can’t access the internet, so I can’t make an energy switch

False. While online price comparison sites are one of the simplest ways to compare energy tariffs, many Ofgem-approved switching services also have call centres to help you make an energy switch. The process is like online price comparison, where you share your post code and current supplier. You will then be presented with the top choices for your criteria and you’ll be able to make the switch over the phone. 

Myth: I’m renting so I can’t change energy supplier

Not always true. This depends on the allowances of your landlord, as well as who pays for utilities. If you pay for your energy use, and provided your landlord permits it, you will be able to compare energy tariffs, find the best energy deals and ultimately switch energy supplier if you wish.

You should always check with your landlord before you make an energy switch and see what is expected of you at the end of the tenancy. For example, if you arrived in the property when it had a prepaid meter and want to change in order to secure a cheaper tariff, you may need to switch it back at the end of your tenancy to avoid being held responsible for changes to the property. 

While you are not entitled to switch energy supplier if your landlord is paying the energy bills, if you feel you are being unfairly charged then it may still be worth finding the best energy deals for your circumstances and approaching your landlord with these better options. Bear in mind, though, that they are under no obligation to make an energy switch for your benefit.

Myth: I don’t need to switch energy supplier, the energy price cap means I have a great deal already

False. The Ofgem energy price cap sets a limit for the amount customers can be charged for energy. The price cap is also only applicable to variable rate tariffs, which are likely to become more expensive than any fixed rate plan as prices fluctuate. The cap itself can do likewise and can increase year on year so your perceived level of protection may not be very much at all. In short, if you want the best energy deals, you should actively compare energy tariffs and consider an energy switch rather than assuming the cap will keep prices down. 

Bjorn GriffithDec 9th 2019