The energy switchers' guide to moving house

Switching your energy: another job to add to the moving list

Whether you’re just starting to get your property market-ready or have already moved into a new home, there’s no time like the present to switch energy suppliers. Moving house gas and electricity plans provide a blank slate for the best deals, with suppliers offering the most enticing tariffs to new customers. 

Because plans vary by region, it’s worth taking the time to compare suppliers to be sure you’re not paying too much in your new home. So, if you’re moving into a new house, gas and electricity should be high on your to-do list. Here’s a look at the steps to take before, during and after moving day.  

Getting ready for your move

You can start the process of setting up gas and electricity in a new home ahead of time, which helps everything run more smoothly on moving day. The first step is to take a close look at your current plan. If you’re on a fixed-term plan with some time left on it, your supplier might charge you an early exit fee. Notify your current supplier of your impending move at least 48 hours in advance. Provide your address so that they can send your final bill along after you’ve moved.  

The next step is to find out who is supplying electricity and gas in the new property. You should be able to find this information out from your estate agent, the current tenants or homeowners. 

On moving day

With all the excitement of moving day, it’s easy to forget something minor like taking a meter reading, but this is highly important. Write down or submit your meter readings to the supplier along with the date and time of the reading. This will help you avoid any discrepancies with your final bill when it’s sent to you later. Do the same at the other end when you arrive at your new property and keep this handy. 

If you haven’t already done so, it’s helpful to let the new homeowners or tenants know who the current supplier is at your property. Leave a note or any relevant paperwork to help them make their own switch. 

After you move

So, you’ve already informed your supplier, forwarded your billing address, and taken meter readings. The next step is to contact your existing supplier to give them this information, because you’ll be held responsible for energy usage from the moment you take over the new property. In most cases, you’ll automatically be put on their standard plan, which is usually one of the most expensive tariffs. That means there’s no better time to switch than right after moving. 

If it’s unclear who supplies the electricity at your new home, you can contact the local distribution company or search on the Energy Networks Association website. To find out who supplies the gas, call the meter number helpline on 0870 608 1524. Calls to this number cost 7p per minute on top of an access charge from your phone company, so another option is to use the Find My Supplier website.  

Moving house energy supplier: how to switch

After you’ve settled in, you’ll have all the information you need to find the best energy supplier. Gather together your new postcode, supplier and plan name, and get ready to compare energy prices to find the best deal. Simply type these details into an energy comparison website to view a list of options available in your region. 

The best deals are reserved for new customers, so you should see plenty of plans on offer. Narrow these down by price as well as the following factors:

  • Customer satisfaction – Compare ratings and reviews from current customers. Is the supplier easy to contact? Do they follow up with queries in a timely manner? How reliable are they? The last thing you want is any added hassle after moving house. 

  • Green friendliness – If reducing your carbon footprint is a top priority, look for green-friendly plans that use renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. You’ll be surprised how cost-effective even renewable electricity plans can be.

  • Fixed-term vs variable rates – Look at whether the plan offers a fixed-term rate that stays the same every month. For those who prefer the cheapest price, these often provide great value for money and eliminate any uncertainty. However, variable plans give a bit of extra flexibility. 

  • Extra fees – Read the fine print to find out if you’ll be charged cancellation fees, connectivity fees, or anything else on top of the standard rate. 

After you’ve weighed all these options, the next step is to click on the one you want and submit your new address. You’ll receive a welcome pack and letter from your energy supplier with all the terms and conditions of your new plan. Bear in mind that it can take up to 21 days for your new plan to officially kick in. You won’t experience any disruption to your gas and electricity service, but you’ll need to pay the existing supplier for energy used during this time. You’ll have a 14-day cooling-off period to change your mind without any consequences if you happen to find a better deal. 

Finally, look for an official letter from your former supplier in the post. This should include a final bill for energy from your former residence, which you can settle to formally close the account. Don’t forget to compare your final meter readings to the bill to avoid errors.  

Setting up gas and electricity in a new home: frequently asked questions

Q) What if there’s a prepayment meter?

A) It’s relatively common to move into a new property only to find a prepayment meter. This type of meter means you have to pay for your gas and electricity up-front with a key, token or smartcard. Although there are some benefits to paying in advance, prepayment meters usually cost more due to higher rates and fewer plans to choose from. 

Fortunately, it’s simple to switch your prepayment meter to a standard credit meter. Contact your supplier of choice and request a change – they’ll ask to run a credit check and require proof of address, but none of the big six suppliers charge a fee for this. Be sure to take a meter reading before you contact your supplier, so that you’re not held responsible for outstanding debts from the previous resident.  

Q) What if you’re a tenant?

A) If you’re renting your new home, one of the first things to look at before signing your new tenancy agreement is who takes responsibility for energy bills. The account may be in the landlord’s name, or it could be your responsibility. You’ll only be able to compare and switch energy suppliers if you’re the one directly paying energy bills, but it’s always a good idea to inform your landlord first. As a tenant, you can only be charged for the electricity and gas that you consume, so you shouldn’t be held responsible for communal lighting or heating repairs. As always, read the fine print before signing any rental paperwork. 

Q) What if the new house isn’t connected to the mains?

A) Some newer properties won’t yet be connected to the gas and electricity network. This is something you’ll want to sort out before moving day, to avoid any unpleasant surprises like lack of power upon arrival. Visit www.nationalgrid.com to request a connection from a distribution network operator or gas transporter. Another option is to request the connection directly through your choice of energy supplier. 

Q) What if there is an existing Economy 7 meter?

A) When moving into a new house, gas and electricity patterns are something to think about. If your daily routine means that you spend less energy overnight, an Economy 7 meter might be a good fit. This type of electricity meter works with a two-tier rate system, charging less for overnight use and more for daytime use. If you move into a house with an Economy 7 meter but don’t think it’s right for you, you’ll need to switch to a standard meter straight away to avoid getting overcharged. 

Moving house: utility bills for first-time buyers

If you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll need to worry about everything from saving a deposit to sorting out a mortgage. Understandably when moving house, utility bills are at the bottom of your priority list, and you might not be sure what to expect. Average household bills in the UK currently run about £49 per month for electricity and £48 per month for gas, so be sure to work this into your budget when you’re looking at properties. Prices will vary widely depending on the region, size of the property, and number of occupants, as well as the home’s energy rating. 

Setting up gas and electricity in a new home is a simple process, particularly if you use online comparison sites to view your options and make the switch. Whether you’re renting or buying, a bit of forward planning goes a long way to ease the stress of moving day.

Bjorn GriffithDec 9th 2019