Switching energy supplier

Switching energy supplier can often help you get a better deal on your gas or electricity.

Two women sitting on a sofa, looking at an energy bill

By switching energy supplier, you might save money on your gas or electricity.

Most suppliers have a range of tariffs to choose from, so it’s a good idea to check you’re getting the best deal. Your supplier should list their available tariffs on their website, or you can call them to discuss your options. You can also switch to a different supplier if you find a better deal elsewhere.

You might also want to consider a supplier’s quality of customer service. If you’re unhappy with your current supplier’s customer service, then you may wish to find a supplier with a better reputation.

Comparing suppliers

If you’re looking to switch for better customer service, then it’s helpful to check online reviews of other suppliers. If you have friends or family who use a different supplier, you can also ask if they’ve had a positive experience.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a better deal on your energy, then it’s best to use a comparison website. We’d recommend trying a few different ones to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Whichever tariff comparison tool you use, you’ll be asked for some information about your current situation. Usually, you’ll need to provide:

Energy prices vary across the country, so entering your address will get you more accurate quotes.

This includes the name of your current supplier and the type of tariff you’re on. You should be able to find the name of your tariff by checking a recent energy bill.

You’ll get more accurate quotes by providing details of your gas and/or electricity usage. Again, you can find this information on your energy bill.

Once you’ve supplied these details, the comparison tool will give you a list of alternative deals. As a general rule, the main information you’ll see is the annual savings you’d make. You should also be able to click for more information about the tariffs on offer. The What to look out for when switching section, below, will help you figure out whether or not it’s a good deal.

What to look out for when switching

It’s important to look at the whole deal you’re getting, not just the projected savings. When deciding whether to switch, you’ll probably want to consider the following:

Variable versus fixed rate tariffs

There are two main types of tariffs: variable and fixed-rate. We provide a full comparison here, but the main difference is:

  • If you’re on a variable tariff, then your energy costs (the unit charge and standing charge) can go up or down.
  • If you’re on a fixed-rate tariff, then the unit charge and standing charge stay the same throughout your contract.

With the wholesale price of energy now coming down, we’re starting to see the return of fixed-rate tariffs. As a result, you might find fixed-rate tariffs that offer cheaper energy than your current deal.

If you’re considering switching to a fixed-rate tariff, it’s important to remember:

  • Fixed rate tariffs may have exit fees. You sign up to a fixed-rate tariff for a set period of time. This is usually 12 months. If you want to leave before the end of your contract, you might need to pay an exit fee.
  • You could end up paying more in the long run. The energy market is still unpredictable. If prices continue to come down, a variable tariff might end up cheaper. In other words, signing up to a fixed-rate deal now might mean you can’t take advantage of variable rate deals in the near future.

Green tariffs

Choosing as green a tariff as possible will help Scotland reach its net zero goal.

A green tariff means that your electricity comes from renewable sources, such as wind or solar power. Your supplier might generate this renewable energy themselves, or buy it from other generators.

The Energy Saving Trust have done some great research into which suppliers provide truly green energy.

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount gives eligible households £150 towards their electricity bill. Not all energy suppliers offer the discount, and each supplier has different rules for who can get it. With this in mind, if you currently get the Warm Home Discount, then you’ll want to check that you can still get it with a new supplier.

Most suppliers should say on their website whether or not they provide the Warm Home Discount. Some also list the rules for applying. Alternatively, you can phone a supplier directly to ask about the Warm Home Discount.

Exit fees

If you want to leave your current supplier before your contract has ended, then you may need to pay an exit fee. The best way to check this is by looking at a recent bill.

You don’t need to pay an exit fee if you’ve got less than seven weeks left to go on your contract. If you’ve got more than seven weeks left, then you can ask your supplier whether they’d be willing to waive the exit fee.

Even if you need to pay the exit fee, it might still make sense to switch. It depends how long is left to go on your contract, plus how much cheaper the new deal is.

How to switch

Once you’ve found the deal you want to switch to, you’ll need to sign up with your new supplier. You should have the choice to do this online or over the phone.

You shouldn’t need to notify your current supplier about the switch. Your new supplier will take care of this for you.

You’ll need to give your new supplier certain information to help with the switch. Different suppliers ask for different information, but you’ll probably need to let them know:

All meters have a unique number. A gas meter has a Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). An electricity meter has a Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN).

Where do I find my gas meter’s number?

Your gas meter’s number (MPRN) is usually 6-10 digits long. The MPRN should be shown on your gas bill. Alternatively, you can find it on the Find My Supplier website.

Where do I find my electricity meter’s number?

Your electricity meter’s number (MPAN) is usually 13 digits long. The MPAN should be on a recent bill. Alternatively, your current supplier can tell you your electricity meter’s number.

Your supplier will ask you for a meter reading. By providing this, you should receive an accurate final bill from your current supplier.

For help reading your meter, check out the following guides:

How to read your gas meter

How to read your electricity meter

There are different ways to pay for your energy. If you’re paying by direct debit, the energy supplier will need to know your bank account details.

Once you sign up with your new supplier, it can take up to five working days for them to switch you over to their supply. They should let you know the date of the switch. It’s a good idea to take a meter reading on this day, so you can check your first bill is accurate.

If you change your mind about switching, you have 14 days to cancel. This is known as the “cooling off” period. It starts the day after you agree to the new contract.

Sign up to hear more from Changeworks

Receive monthly tips and tricks straight to your inbox on how to save energy in the home and reduce your bills. Whether it’s draught proofing, how to manage your heating system or finding out more about what financial assistance is available, we’ve got it covered.