Consumer Information » Energy

How to switch

Changing energy supplier can be one of the easiest ways to save money on your gas and electricity bills.  However with so many different deals out there it can be difficult to find the best one. There are a few different ways you can find out about better energy deals.  You can:

  • visit the website of the supplier you would like to switch to or phone them to find out about their tariffs
  • you can use an internet comparison site
  • you may be approached by an energy supplier’s sales person on your doorstep or public place such as your local shopping centre

Consumer Focus publishes independent price factsheets that will help you see what prices the major energy companies charge you can find these in the price comparison section of our website or you can phone Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 to request copies.

Remember you may be also be able to get a cheaper energy tariff from your current supplier so it is worth contacting them to discuss if you are on the best tariff they offer.

There are a number of questions you might want to consider before deciding to change to a new supplier.

How much energy do you currently use?

You can do this by looking at your energy bills for the past year. To make sure the comparison is accurate, try to use bills based on real meter readings, not on estimates.

How much will the new supplier charge?

All suppliers have to publish their prices. They will send you details of their prices if you ask them. To make sure you get the best deal, it is worth shopping around and making comparisons between the prices offered by different suppliers in your area.

You can also use the price comparison section on our website or find pricing information on price comparison websites.

How can I pay?

Suppliers usually offer a variety of payment options to customers, such as paying weekly or quarterly, and paying by cash, postal order, cheque, direct debit or in a prepayment meter. Ask suppliers to tell you about all the options so that you can make the best choice. You may also want to make sure that there are no penalties for cancelling a contract once you have signed it.

Which ‘tariff’ should I choose?

Be aware that some payment methods may be much more expensive than others. For example, it is usually cheaper to manage your fuel bills online or pay by monthly direct debit, than to pay by cheque or cash on a quarterly basis. Different tariffs (or prices) are offered to different consumers according to their circumstances.

Whatever price you are quoted, you should make sure that it includes VAT, which is charged at five per cent on electricity and gas bills.

Do they have any extra or hidden charges?

Some suppliers add a daily standing charge to your fuel bill and others do not. Those companies that do not add a standing charge may instead ask for a higher unit price for the gas and electricity you use.

Do they have a high number of complaints about their service?

If you are interested in the quality of service you are likely to receive from a new supplier, as well as the prices they will charge, it is worth asking about their performance.

For more help and advice on switching energy supplier read our leaflet How to switch energy supplier.