Changing utility suppliers
When you move into your new property (whether you own it or rent it) you may want to consider who the existing utility supplier is, and whether you want to change to a more cost effective one.
If you are buying the property, your conveyancing solicitor will be able to find out the details from the seller’s solicitors. If you are renting, you will need to ask your landlord, and it’s possible that they will not want you to change suppliers, even though you are the one paying the utilities, so make sure you find out in advance what the costs are going to be.
Many suppliers whether energy or water suppliers will try to entice you in with a low tariff with a view to making their profits in the subsequent years by raising their costs. The most common way of doing this is for example by tying you in with a variable contract which gives the supplier the right to change their prices as long as they have informed you 30 days before they do that. So, when you move into a new property, make sure you know who the supplier is, what the terms are and what other deals are available to you.
What do you do to ensure that you are not trapped into paying higher utility bills? One way of dealing with this is by making sure you are on a fixed tariff contract so that you might want to change to a different tariff deal with your existing utility provider. If your current utility supplier does not provide for a fixed tariff contract, then you can compare the prices offered by other utility suppliers on the market and switch to a different utility supplier.
How do I switch to a different energy supplier?
How do I switch?
The process of switching to a different energy supplier is quite simple and it can be done online! You simply need to enter details online about your energy supply, find out how much you could save with a different energy supplier, compare deals of different suppliers, choose the best one for you and switch online.
In order to be able to get an accurate estimate of how much you can save with an energy supplier, it is handy to have details of your current energy supplier, your current tariff whether it is standard or fixed, your current method of payment and your preferred method of payment with the new supplier, your energy usage over the last 12 months, your contract end date and whether you want to manage your account online with the new supplier. Once you have found the best deal for you and switched online, then you do not have to do anything else and it is essentially the job of the energy companies to work things out.
The only one thing that you might want to check before switching is whether you will incur a fee for cancelling your current energy deal. Generally, if you are on a fixed rate tariff, there will be an exit fee when you switch to a different supplier early. However, even if there is an exit fee that you will have to pay, switching can still save you hundreds of pounds.
What does the switching process involve?
Once you have switched online, you will usually receive a confirmation email outlining your new energy tariff that you have chosen. Following this, the energy companies will start working on transferring your details over.
Generally, you will have 14 days cooling off period from the date when you switched within which you can cancel the new energy contract. After this 14-day period has expired, your new energy supplier will contact your previous energy supplier to inform them that your supply is to be transferred and any future cancellation with your new supplier may be subject to a cancellation fee.
You will also receive a welcome letter from your new energy provider if you have not already received one during your cooling off period and will be informed of the contract start date. You will also need to provide your new energy supplier with a meter read on the start date of your contract. Your new energy supplier will pass this meter read to your previous energy supplier in order to enable them to close your account and produce an accurate final bill.
You will usually receive the final bill from your previous energy supplier within 4 weeks from the date your new energy supplier has taken over. You will need to ensure that you do not cancel your direct debit before you have paid off the final bill or any amount that is outstanding on your account. If your account is in arrears and your direct debit gets cancelled before that is cleared, this might lead to an administration charge being entered on your account. Also, if there is any credit on your account you will probably want this transferred back to you, so it is recommended that you check with your previous energy supplier about this before closing your direct debit with them.
How long does it take?
It will usually take about 4-5 weeks for the switching process to be complete and your details to be transferred from your current energy company to the new energy company. So this is something you should start organising as soon as you know you are moving in.
Beyond the ‘Big 6’
You should not just shop around with the big 6 energy companies but take a look at smaller and cheaper alternative energy providers instead.
There is a great number of deals that smaller and cheaper energy providers can offer you. These can range from fixed-rate deals, fixed-term contracts offering 100% renewable energy, offers of getting gas at a discounted rate and profits going to be used for the building of windmills or shared among customers for example instead of going to the shareholders.
However, it is not always all about the money. You may wish to switch to a different utility supplier because for example you are dissatisfied with the service you receive from your current supplier or your current supplier does not offer any deals with renewable energy. Therefore, switching a utility provider can ensure that you are not throwing cash down the drain but also have a deal that aligns with your values and objectives.
Can I switch my gas supplier?
Yes, you can certainly switch your gas supplier. Some energy suppliers do offer a discounted rate if you have your energy and gas supplied by them. Therefore, it is worth checking with your existing supplier whether they can offer you a better deal if you have your gas with them or switch to a different energy supplier that offers you one.
Can I change my water supplier?
It is also possible to change your water supplier or your water deal. The key thing to consider is whether your water bills are ‘rates’ or ‘meter’ based.
If your water supply is on ‘rates’ then that means that you pay a set monthly amount that is dependent on the value of the home and it is the same regardless of the amount of water that you use.
On the other hand, a metered water supply can come with more advantages such as that you pay only for the amount of water that you use and it can actually be cheaper having a meter if you have more bedrooms than people in your household. In addition, water meters usually get fitted for free by water companies.
Remember that you are not trapped into paying higher utility bills and it is possible to switch utility suppliers if you think there is a better deal for you on the market. It is time to start enjoying cheaper utility bills and making bigger savings to your bank account!
Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.