Around six million customers switched to a new energy supplier in 2020, according to figures from trade association Energy UK.
And, while this is slightly down on the 6.4 million recorded in 2019 (the highest number on record), it stands that there are plenty of good reasons why switching to a new supplier can be a good move for you, your family, and your budget. We’ve rounded up the top 10.
1. Ditching a standard tariff will save you money
When any fixed term energy deal ends you will automatically revert to your energy supplier’s standard tariff, which is the most expensive kind on the market.
If you haven’t switched in a while, it’s likely you’re paying the standard rate and that you could make a substantial saving by ditching your supplier.
While it’s an option to speak to your existing provider about a cheaper deal, there might be an even bigger saving elsewhere. Make sure you compare tariffs to access the very best deal available.
It’s time well spent as a typical household saves around £280 by switching, according to regulator, Ofgem.
2. Your current deal might not be the cheapest
While you might think that you are on a good deal at the moment, prices could have changed since your last switch.
Use a comparison website to work out if you could make immediate savings by signing up to a better value tariff. If you’re still within a fixed term an early exit could trigger a penalty so check all the details before switching.
3. Plenty of competition means some great deals
There are currently around 56 energy suppliers according to Ofgem, which is a far cry from the 12 that existed 10 years ago and almost double the 31 that were operating just five years ago.
Many are wrestling for the top spot on the pricing tables and so there’s lots of competition on price and keeping customers happy.
4. Better customer service
From time to time you might need to contact your supplier – perhaps over a query on the bill or to ask a question about your tariff. It’s possible you might have had a bad experience with customer service and so a switch to one with a better customer service ethic could help.
As well as looking at price, be sure to check how a new supplier’s customer service is rated to ensure that you get the right assistance if any issues arise. You might also check they offer a user-friendly website.
5. Reducing your impact on the environment
Saving money is not the only reason to switch. There is a small, though growing, number of suppliers offering ‘green tariffs’ which means that provider is taking measures to help the environment.
The definition of ‘green’ varies among suppliers, though. Some might promise to match your electricity usage by giving back the equivalent in renewable energy to the National Grid. Others promise to offset your energy usage – usually by planting enough trees to absorb the amount of gas you use.
Some offer ‘renewable energy’ but in some cases this can be limited to 15%, which means the rest comes from non-renewable sources such as a gas or coal fired power station. Make sure you drill down into the information provided before you sign up, to ensure you’re happy.
To find the true green credentials of a supplier, search on its website for the fuel mix disclosure which gives a clear indication of the amount of energy it supplies to the grid and from what sources.
You can check how much energy your supplier will provide from renewable energy sources, by looking at the key information section on your bill or online account which will provide a breakdown of the energy sources supplied to your home. If it’s unclear, call and ask.
6. A green switch can save you money
Opting for a green tariff is not only environmentally friendly – it can be cost effective too. Historically, green prices have been slightly more expensive than regular tariffs. But prices have been falling, competition rising, and the green tariffs can now be among the cheapest deals.
7. It’s hassle-free
Switching your energy tariff is straightforward. It only takes a few minutes using a comparison website. You can speed up the process by having to hand all the information you need – the name of your current supplier and tariff and your energy consumption – all of which can usually be found on your bill or online account.
The site will also ask how you currently pay your bill and how you would like to pay with a new supplier as well as your postcode and an up-to-date meter reading.
The switch itself takes no more than 15 working days, under rules from the energy regulator, and your new supplier will do all the legwork.
Your final bill from your old supplier should arrive within six weeks. It's the same gas and meter – you don't lose supply – the only difference is price and who you pay.
8. Claim compensation if things go wrong
Sometimes things do go wrong. But customers now automatically receive £30 if they experience delays or mistakes when switching suppliers, as a result of new rules that came into force on May 1, 2020.
This includes if the switch takes longer than 15 working days, if your final bill does not arrive within six weeks or a credit refund is late.
9. You can change your mind
If you make a mistake with a switch, decide it’s not for you after all, there’s a two-week cooling off period where you can cancel the switch. You just need to notify the provider that you wish to cancel.
10. More energy used means bigger savings
With more time being spent at home – working for many – the cost of heating and lighting homes is increasing. And, especially in the current economic climate, it’s important for everyone to save money wherever they can.
A note on smart meters here, however. Many of the best energy deals are only available to households that have a smart meter installed. The devices are not mandatory so make sure you check this if you don’t want to have one.
If you do have a smart meter, there’s a chance a switch could cause it to malfunction. Older versions of the device (SMETS1) lose their ‘smart’ capabilities when you switch supplier, meaning they will no longer display usage in real time or send readings automatically.
The solution is to get the smart meter upgraded to a so-called second-generation meter (SMETS2), which are automatically inter-operable between suppliers.
For those with first generation devices, switching means you take a risk that your smart meter will no longer work as it should.