Home Energy Switching Guide

DON'T WAIT FOR THE ENERGY PRICE CAP TO SAVE YOU!

 
Standard energy rates will be capped from January 2019, but switching with us could save you as much as £482* on your annual energy bills.

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* Between 1 Jan 2018 and 30 Jun 2018, at least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved £482 or more.

Switching gas and electricity supplier is a quick and easy way to help cut your household bills. And the best way to switch energy supplier, to save yourself both time and money, is run an energy price comparison with us.

How to switch energy supplier

Simply enter your postcode in the box at the top of the page, to get started, or carry on reading our guide to switching energy supplier to find out all you need to know about comparing energy suppliers and how switching can potentially knock hundreds of pounds off your annual energy bills.

Choose the best way to change energy supplier

Switching your gas and electricity supplier is quick and easy, and at no point during the switching process will you be without gas and electricity – energy is supplied to your home through the existing pipes and cables, it’s just the supplier that changes.

The process is simple. You apply to switch and we and the energy suppliers then organize the entire process for you. Here is an overview of the switching process:

  1. Compare every gas and electricity supplier available - Use our energy price comparison service to compare every gas and electricity supplier and also see the savings available by switching.
  2. Apply to switch to your chosen supplier - From the results page, click on the 'Switch' button to complete the energy switch comparison and apply for your chosen tariff. You will need to enter a little more information that the supplier needs, such as your address and if paying by Direct Debit, your bank details.
  3. Wait to hear from your new supplier - Your chosen new energy supplier will contact you to confirm your request to switch. They will then liaise with your current supplier to action the switching process.
  4. Switch to new supplier complete - The switching process takes about 4 to 6 weeks, during which time the suppliers may contact you for meter readings.

Will the energy switch disrupt your gas and electricity supply?

When you switch supplier, nothing at your home changes, so there will be no disruptions and no work required to your home.

There are no new cables or pipes that need to be installed. Your electricity comes down the same wires and your gas comes down the same pipes. You will not be disconnected at any time as part of the switching process.

The only change is the company that sends you the bill and the amount that you are charged.

Compare all energy suppliers and tariffs

When you compare gas and electricity suppliers, you need to make sure that you compare every energy tariff in order to get the best deal. We show every supplier and every tariff that is available, regardless of whether we can handle the switch for you. This means that you are able to make a fully informed decision when choosing a new energy tariff.

Watch out for energy agents who don't compare multiple suppliers

Generally speaking, people who call at your door to discuss your energy, or the agents that you see in shopping centres and supermarkets are normally agents for a single energy supplier.

This means that they can normally only give you prices from that one supplier only. They may be able to save you money compared to your current tariff, but you may find that you can make far greater savings when you compare every gas and electricity tariff available.

If you are approached by an agent, make sure that you check out their claims before you sign anything.

It only takes a matter of minutes to do an online gas and electricity price comparison, but it could save you hundreds of pounds a year. Also, if you are called on the telephone by an agent or energy company, be careful what you agree to.

Energy companies are able to switch you over to them if you agree on the phone. They don't need a signature, so you need to ensure that you do not agree to anything that you did not mean to.

Apply to switch online for the best deals

The best gas and electricity deals are available online. The rise in popularity of gas and electricity price comparison services means that for suppliers to win business, they need to have the cheapest tariff available.

Because we show every tariff available, the suppliers have launched tariffs that are designed to be at the top of the results. These tariffs are often only available to customers who switch online and are not always available to customers who switch by phone or face to face with agents. Therefore, make sure you use our online price comparison service to check for the cheapest deal.

How to choose the best energy deal

No matter which supplier you choose, how you decide to pay and how you get your bills, the gas and electricity that comes into your home is the same. However, in order to pay as little as possible for it, there are several steps you can take.

The best way to change energy supplier is to run an online gas and electricity comparison to find the cheapest and most suitable tariff. Then you need to select the options that suppliers give discounts for if you choose them.

Generally speaking, suppliers will offer discounts for people paying by Direct Debit, taking both gas and electricity (dual fuel) and online billing, which is where you get your bills either by email or via the web:

Cheapest energy tariff = online billing + Direct Debit + dual fuel

The comparison service on this website enables you to compare all of the options available to you so that you can be sure that you are making a fully informed decision about which energy supplier you would like to switch to.

If you have switched before

If you have switched your gas and electricity supplier before, you will know how the process works. But most people tend to switch their energy supplier and then forget about it for the next couple of years or more, knowing that they have switched to a cheaper deal. In which case, you will definitely save money by switching supplier.

Watch out for early exit fees

If you have recently switched, and you’re looking to switch again, you need to watch out for early exit fees – a penalty your supplier might impose if you leave your deal early. If, for example, you’re switching from British Gas to EON, but your current deal with British Gas isn’t due to expire, you may be charged and exit fee, which could be a much as £35 per fuel – so you need to factor this in when working out how much you’ll save by switching.

No all suppliers impose exit fees, and if your current tariff has 49 days or less left to run, then you can switch without paying a penalty, even if the deal you’re on is loaded with exit fees.

Energy prices can go up and down

Energy suppliers frequently change their prices, so what was a good tariff a year or so ago, is no longer competitive. Also, when prices go down (not that often, but it does happen) suppliers will often issue a new version of their cheapest products to get to the top of the energy price comparison tables, but not pass on as much of the savings to their existing customers.

Regularly compare energy prices

We would recommend that consumers carry out a five minute gas and electricity price comparison every 6 to 9 months, to ensure that they are still on the best tariff for them. A few minutes work a couple of times a year can often be rewarded with significant savings on your gas and electricity bills.

If you have never switched before

If you have never switched your gas and electricity supplier before, you have the most to gain. Most energy suppliers get the majority of their profits from their loyal customers, the ones that have never switched.

If you are with your incumbent suppliers (British Gas for gas and the regional electricity company for your electricity) and are on their standard tariff, the savings that can be made are often surprising. If you are paying by cash and cheque, the savings are even greater. You could be saving over £300 a year by switching.

Stop paying too much for your gas and electricity

Just think about how much extra you have been paying each year. You have probably spent thousands of pounds more than you should have. Now is the time to say enough is enough. Spend five minutes doing a price comparison, then switch to a cheaper tariff to stop paying over the odds for your gas and electricity.

What are the different types of energy tariffs on offer?

When comparing energy deals online, you'll quickly realise there are a range of tariff types you can choose from. Here are some things you need to look out for:

Capped and fixed energy tariffs

Capped or fixed energy tariffs work in much the same way as fixed or capped mortgage deals. The energy supplier will guarantee the price of your energy until a specified date.

Customers usually pay a premium for fixed rate tariffs, but if prices rise, customers will not see any increase in their bills until the tariff expires. Fixed energy tariffs are good when prices are going up as customers are protected from rising prices.

Gas and electricity price rises

Gas and electricity suppliers change their prices, usually a couple of times a year. Gas and electricity prices can go up and down, depending on what has happened in the wholesale markets. In the last couple of years, consumers have seem huge rises and falls, often double digit changes as suppliers increase and reduce their prices. Customers can often find it confusing, with so many suppliers and price rises that seem unjustified when the suppliers report huge profits.

Avoid fixed tariffs when energy prices are going down

However, when prices come down, as they have done from time to time, customers can often find that they are paying more than they would otherwise. Also, many fixed tariffs have a fee if the customer switches before the tariff expires. This means that the customer is stuck with the current tariff until it expires, unless they decide to pay the early termination fees.

See the impact of price updates for you

The easiest way of seeing how price rises affect you personally is to do a five minute energy price comparison. We also keep a record of each time a supplier changes their prices, which you can see on our energy price updates page.

Pre-payment meter customers

Generally speaking, there are two types of gas and electricity meter, credit meters and pre-payment meters. With credit meters, customers use energy and then the energy suppliers send a bill for the energy used. However, with pre-payment meters, customers 'charge up' their meter by buying credit, either on a card, key or with tokens.

Pre-payment meters allow customers to track very easily how much they are spending on their gas and electricity. They do not run the risk of using gas and electricity, only to receive a shockingly high bill a month later. With pre-payment meters, customers pay up-front, so they know exactly what they are spending.

Pre-payment meter customers pay a premium on their energy bills

As suppliers get the money before the energy is even used, you would think that the energy suppliers would charge less to customers on pre-payment meters. They also don't have to worry about chasing customers for money or changing Direct Debit amounts as prices rise.

However, usually the opposite applies and customers on pre-payment meters often pay more than customers with credit meters. For customers on pre-payment meters, the best way to lower energy bills, is to request that your supplier changes your meter for a credit meter. This means that you will then have all tariffs available to you.

Suppliers though, do not have to agree to change your meter. In this case, you would be better to look for an alternative supplier who would be prepared to change your meter. Many will also make a charge for changing your meter to a credit meter, so do your research before you switch.

Fewer energy tariff choices available

Because it can be harder for pre-payment meter customers to switch their gas and electricity suppliers, there is a lack of choice available for alternative energy tariffs. Many energy suppliers only have a standard pre-payment tariff, where there are none of the discounts that are available to credit meter customers such as Direct Debit and online billing discounts.

IGT (Independent Gas Transporter) customers

IGTs are independent gas transporters. There is a national network of gas pipes that takes the gas to your house. However, some properties have private gas pipes which go from the public gas pipes on the main road to your property.

An example of this could be a private development of houses where the developer owns the gas pipes. These IGTs often charge a slight premium to the energy supplier for using their gas pipes.

It is up to the individual supplier how much of this cost that they pass on to you as a customer. However, below is a table which shows information on how much suppliers charge if you have an IGT at your property:

Energy supplier Approximate charge per year
Atlantic £0
British Gas £0
co-operative energy £0
E.ON £42. Some E.ON tariffs do not have an IGT charge. Where this is the case, it is indicated in the tariff details on our website.
EBICo £0
Ecotricity £0
EDF Energy £0
first:utility first:utility does not accept customers supplied by IGTs for tariffs advertised on this site
Good Energy Good Energy does not accept customers supplied by IGTs
M&S Energy £0
npower £10.50
OVO Energy £0
Scottish Power £0
Spark Energy £0
SSE £0
SSE Scottish Hydro £0
SSE Southern Electric £0
SSE SWALEC £0
Utilita £0
Utility Warehouse (Telecom Plus) £34.2

Last updated: 11 April 2012

How to manage your energy bills

Managing your gas and electricity bills is an exercise that you should do on a regular basis to ensure that you are on the best deal and are paying enough to cover your energy costs. Getting into debt with your energy supplier not only means that you have to repay the debt on top of your current energy costs, but it also restricts you from switching until the debt is cleared. Getting into debt can be very easy:

  • Prices rise but Direct Debit amounts are not increased
  • Bills are based on estimated readings which are lower than annual consumption

Bills seem too high? If your bills seem higher than you were expecting, read more about why this may be the case and what you can do about it.

How to understand your energy bill

Take regular meter readings

Giving your supplier regular meter readings ensures that your bills are far more accurate. Many suppliers now make it possible for customers to submit meter readings online throughout the year. This means that bills are based on actual usage and you are not going to receive any surprisingly high bills when an actual reading is taken.

Switch to a gas and electricity smart meter

UKPower has now released a new, free to use 'Smart Meter' tool where you can enter your own meter readings and it will then tell you how much that energy will cost you.

Run regular price comparisons

Energy suppliers frequently change the prices of their tariffs and launch new tariffs to attract customers. This means that in order to ensure you are on the best deal, you need to carry out regular energy price comparisons, which take only a few minutes. We would suggest that you do this every 6 to 9 months to ensure you are on the best deal.

Review your Direct Debit payments

You need to review the amount that you are paying by Direct Debit on a regular basis. If you are always in credit, or always have a debt, you need to adjust your Direct Debit payments accordingly. The following article explains how to review your Direct Debit payments.

How to choose the best time to switch gas and electricity supplier

Because energy suppliers change their tariffs and prices on a regular basis, we suggest that customers do a price comparison every 6 to 9 months to ensure that they are on the best deal. However, if you have any debts with your current supplier, you need to clear these before you switch. Read more about choosing the best time to switch.

How does UKPower work and make money?

UKPower makes money through commissions paid by the energy suppliers. We do not charge our customers for using our switch compare service and the commissions that we get paid do not affect the price you pay. These commissions that we receive help us to offer this service to you for free.

How much can you save by switching your energy supplier?

How much you can save by switching your energy supplier depends on a number of factors including:

  • Where you live
  • How you currently pay
  • How you would like to pay
  • How much gas and electricity you use
  • What type of meter you have
  • What features you would like (e.g. online billing)

As a general rule of thumb, this is how to get the cheapest deal:

Cheapest energy tariff = online billing + Direct Debit + dual fuel

Many customers save over £300 a year by switching their gas and electricity supplier.

Compare all home energy suppliers

Enter your postcode in the box at the top of the page to start an energy comparison for home.

How to reduce your gas and electricity bills

There are all sorts of things you can do to cut the cost of your energy bills, from installing energy efficient appliances, to switching supplier, to simply using less gas and electricity. This part of our gas and electricity switching guide will focus on the best ways to cut your bills.

Pay less for your energy

No matter which energy supplier provides your gas and electricity, it all comes from the same place and gets into your property through the same pipes and cables. So, when you switch supplier, the only changes you’ll notice are that you’ll be billed by a different company, and these bills should be lower than when you were with your previous supplier.

To put it in another context, imagine buying a film on DVD - it doesn't matter where you buy it from, the film is the same. The only difference is the amount you pay for it. The same is true for gas and electricity.

The simplest way to find the cheapest gas and electricity tariff is to use a price comparison service, as this allows you to instantly compare deals and see which supplier is offering the cheapest rates.

You might find that some suppliers offer a range of further discounts depending on how you pay for your bills and which services you use. If, for instance, you agree to have both your gas and electricity supplied by the same company, they will usually give you a dual fuel discount. And if you pay your bills by monthly Direct Debt, you might get a further discount.

Additional savings can be made if you opt for online billing, where you receive your gas and electricity bills via email or the web, as this cuts your energy suppliers’ admin costs. Online or app-based account managing is also better for the environment as it eliminates the need to send paper bills.

Not all energy customers are the same, and prices can vary depending upon whearebaouts in the country you live, so you should always run a full price comparison to see what deals are available on the energy switching sites.

Use less gas and electricity

It sounds obvious, but arguably the best way to save money on your energy bills is to simply to use less gas and electricity. There are loads of ways you can cut your energy usage, and small changes really can make a big difference. And the best thing about being energy efficient is that you're not only saving money, but you are also helping the environment.

There are two main ways that you can reduce your energy usage in your home:

  1. Make your home energy efficient

Making your home more energy efficient means making the most of the energy that’s generated, such as using energy-efficient appliances and making sure your property is properly insulated, so that when you turn the heating on, most of that heat is kept inside, and less is wasted by escaping through the roof, walls and windows.

Making changes to your home now will have a positive impact on your home energy usage for many years to come. And while an initial outlay is required, you will make money back from having cheaper energy bills, and you may also be able to subsidise any work with an energy efficiency grant.

To make your home more energy efficient, consider the following:

  • Replace old bulbs with energy saving light bulbs
  • Insulate your home
    • Put a jacket on your hot water boiler
    • Insulate your loft
    • Wall cavity insulation
    • Draught excluders
    • Double glazing
  1. Think more energy efficiently

In order to be as energy efficient as possible, you need to change the way you think about energy. So, you need to consider things every time you turn your TV on this uses energy, as does leaving it on standby. If you re-boil the kettle, this is an unnecessary waste of energy. Leaving windows open when the heating on wastes energy. Then work out how you can make small changes to cut the amount of energy you use.

Just being a bit more energy aware will bring about noticeable changes in your energy usage, and begin to make a difference to your energy bills, so try to be mindful of the following around the house:

  • Switch off lights when not in the room
  • Keep doors closed
  • Turn appliances off at the main, not using standby
  • Turn down your thermostat by one degree

Individually, these changes may not appear to have a huge impact, but collectively, these small changes can really add up. When you start thinking with an energy efficient mind, there are all sorts of changes that you can make, such as only filling a kettle with enough water for the number of drinks you are making, taking a shower instead of a bath, and avoid using the tumble dryer whenever you can.

It might also help if you can see how much of a difference these small changes are making, so consider installing an energy monitor or replacing your existing gas and electricity meters with a smart meter. Both will show you how and where you’re using energy, as well as how much it’s costing, but smart meters have the added benefit of automatically sending meter readings to your supplier, so you can be sure you’re only paying for the energy you’re using.

5 free and easy ways to keep warm for less this winter

Beat the energy price hikes with these 5 free and easy ways to save energy and save money this winter. Make the switch with UK Power and start saving today

For more energy saving tips, check out How to reduce your gas and electricity usage.

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