When is the best time to switch my energy deal?

Last updated: 16 October 2020

In this guide, you’ll learn the following:

  • Why is it important to know when to switch energy supplier?

  • When should I change gas and electric supplier?

  • How soon can you switch energy suppliers?

  • What’s the best way to change energy supplier?

  • Can my energy supplier stop me from switching?

When is the best time to switch energy supplier? 

If you’re on a variable rate deal, then the best time to switch energy provider is just before the colder weather starts, around September or October. When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, you’ll be using more gas and electricity to heat and light your home. You’ll be spending more money, which is why switching to a fixed-rate deal before winter is the best time to switch energy plan if you’ve not already done so.

Why is it important to know when to switch energy supplier? 

The most pressing reason to know when to change energy provider is to ensure you’re not paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity. If you’re currently on a fixed deal, for example, you’re likely to end up being automatically moved to your current supplier’s standard variable rate tariff when your plan ends, which is likely to lead to higher monthly bills if you don’t act in good time. 

When should I change gas and electric supplier? 

If you’re not currently on a fixed-rate deal, then the time to make your first switch is now, with the help of our comprehensive guide to switching your energy deal.

If you’re currently on a fixed-rate deal, then check its terms and conditions to see if there are any exit penalties attached to the tariff. You’ll have to pay these fees if you move to a new deal before the switching window opens, which is usually 49 days before your current tariff expires.

After your first switch, aim to switch your energy deal every 12-18 months, depending on the terms and conditions of your current deal. If there are no exit fees attached to it, then you’re free to switch at any time. Whatever you do, make sure you switch before a fixed deal ends, to avoid being moved to your current supplier’s standard variable tariff, which tends to offer the worst value for money. 

Are there any other good reasons to change energy company? 

Yes – plenty in fact. Here’s five of the most common reasons to make the switch:

  • When you move to a new house

If you’ve recently moved home, it may be a good time to reassess your energy supplier. You may now live in a different part of the country, have a larger or smaller home, a different heating system, or different appliances, all of which could have an impact on your energy needs.

  • When your life circumstances change

There is a range of different circumstances that could have an impact on the way that you use energy and make it a good idea to change power supplier. For example, if your kids have recently left home, you’re unlikely to use as much gas and electricity as you did before. And if you were on an Economy 7 plan but have recently retired, you may start using energy during the daytime hours more frequently, which could be a good motivating factor to change gas and electric supplier. 

  • When you think that prices may go up

If you’re on a standard variable tariff, you should receive a warning due to the Ofgem price cap. At this point, the decision to change gas and electric supplier could be a cost-effective one, particularly if you decide to switch to a cheaper fixed tariff. 

  • When you have paid off an energy debt

In some cases – such as when you’ve owed your energy supplier for over 28 days – you won’t be able to change power supplier until you’ve paid off your debt to your supplier. Once you’ve paid off your debt, it’s a good time to make a switch, potentially to a cheaper energy tariff. 

  • Switching meter type

You may currently be on a prepayment meter, which restricts the range of value of tariffs you can get. If you’re able to, switching to a regular meter unlocks a wider range of available energy tariffs, and will almost certainly save you money in both the short and long term. 

Are there any other good reasons to change energy company? 

There are plenty of other reasons to change your energy plan. Here are some of the most common reasons to make the switch: 

  • When you move to a new house: If you’ve recently moved home, it may be a good time to reassess your energy supplier. You may now have a larger or smaller home, a different heating system, or different appliances, all of which could have an impact on your energy needs. 

  • When your life circumstances change: There is a range of different circumstances that could have an impact on the way that you use energy and make it a good idea to change power supplier. For example, if your kids have recently left home, you’re unlikely to use as much gas and electricity as you did before. And if you were on an Economy 7 plan but have recently retired, you may start using energy during the daytime hours more frequently, which could be a good motivating factor to change gas and electric supplier. 

  • When you think that prices may go up: If you’re on a standard variable tariff, you should receive a warning due to the Ofgem price cap. At this point, the decision to change gas and electric supplier could be a cost-effective one, particularly if you decide to switch to a cheaper fixed tariff. 

  • When you have paid off an energy debt: In some cases – such as when you’ve owed your energy supplier for over 28 days – you won’t be able to change power supplier until you’ve paid off your debt to your supplier. Once you’ve paid off your debt, it’s a good time to make a switch, potentially to a cheaper energy tariff. 

How soon can you switch energy suppliers? 

If you’re on a standard variable tariff, or your fixed-rate deal doesn’t come with any exit fees, then you’re free to look around and switch at any point.

If your fixed-rate deal comes with exit fees, however, then you’ll need to wait until the switching window opens before switching to avoid becoming liable for expensive additions to your bill – typically a minimum of £30 per fuel (so £60 minimum if you take gas and electricity from the same supplier).

Generally, your switching window (where exit fees no longer apply) will open 49 days before your contract ends. Your energy supplier should notify you between 42 and 29 days before the end of your tariff, so you should have plenty of time to make a switch. Bear in mind that it will take between 21 and 28 days to switch, so it’s best to give yourself plenty of leeway, otherwise, you could find yourself moved to a standard variable tariff for a couple of days while you’re waiting for your new tariff to start.

When shouldn’t you change gas and electric supplier? 

You shouldn’t change energy company at a point in your contract where you will need to pay an exit fee or a cancellation penalty. In most cases, the exit fee will outweigh any potential savings that you’ll make by switching, so it makes no financial sense to make the change. 

What’s the best way to change energy supplier?

It’s relatively simple to find a new energy plan with the help of our step-by-step guide to a quick and hassle-free switching process: 

1. Make sure you’ve got the documents you need. 

First off, find a recent bill. This will tell you a couple of important facts, such as who your supplier is and what tariff you’re on. It’s also a good idea to keep your bank details close to hand so that you can easily sign up with a new provider. 

2. Go to a price comparison website. 

There are many options to choose from, so rather than picking a random site, be sure to choose one that’s accredited with the Ofgem Confidence Code. 

3. Enter your postcode. 

Because energy prices vary from region to region, you’ll need to enter your postcode to find out which suppliers serve your area and what plans are available. 

4. Enter your usage information. 

Next, you’ll need to input your household’s energy consumption details. If you can’t find these on your most recent bill, use the price comparison site’s questionnaire to generate a rough estimate based on your house type and number of people living in it.

5. Compare your results and pick a plan. 

At this point, you’ll be shown a list of options showing many different plans and suppliers. Make your decision based on a plan that’s best suited to your lifestyle. If you value environmentally conscious plans, opt for a green energy supplier. On the other hand, if you use a significant proportion of your energy at night, you may want to investigate an Economy 7 or Economy 10 plan. You should also consider issues like customer service. 

6. Confirm the switch. 

After you’ve chosen a new supplier you want to switch to, there’s only one thing left to do: confirm the plan. All you need to do is provide your bank details and address and your new supplier will take care of the rest

Can my energy supplier stop me from switching? 

No, unless you’ve been in debt to your supplier for over 28 days, there’s nothing it can do to stop you from switching to another supplier. If you’ve been in debt with your supplier for 28 days or less, the amount of money that you owe will be added to your final bill. If you’re on a fixed deal with exit fees, and you’re not yet in the switching window, your supplier will likely enforce those fees, which will be added to your bill. So long as you’re happy to pay the fee, however, you can change power supplier with ease. 

How much does it cost to change gas and electric supplier? 

If you’re out of contract, the whole process of moving to a new supplier is completely free. The only potential charges you may need to factor into your decision are exit fees. 

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Updated on Tue 28 Jan 2020 08.15 GMT

Published on Mon 11 Nov 2019 12.03 GMT