It might be worth switching…

Switching tariffs could save hundreds of pounds and may not mean changing your provider.

Kicking your bills into shape might be off putting but is the best way to make sure you keep your bank balance in check. Use our guide to help find all the things you need to look out for, from understanding your current bill to how to change your meter and tariff.

The top tip we can offer… talk to your supplier! It must be one of the most avoided tasks but when it comes to getting your head around the cost of energy, asking someone to look at your account and give answers is the only way. Here is a list of ofgem approved energy suppliers with contact numbers.

  • If your bill is ESTIMATED give an up to date reading to your supplier to make sure they are ACTUAL – only applies to billed meters
  • Smart Meters will help with this in the future
  • Check whether there is any money owed on your account either to you or the supplier.
  • Check your meter – if you are on prepayment meter – could you manage to pay monthly and switch to a credit (billed) meter – this can be possible even if you have debt on your energy bill, but is less likely if you have a bad credit rating
  • Check your tariff, you could get a better deal without changing supplier or fixing for a long time

The only information you will need to understand bills and compare tariffs:

  • Who your supplier is and how you pay them
  • Actual Annual usage over the last 12 months (for both gas and electric)
  • Name of your tariff including whether you are fixed in until a certain date
  • If you have economy 7 (2 rates for electric, cheaper at night & normal during the day)

Once you have this information it is very quick and simple – first you need to pick an independent comparison organisation. Click here for Ofgem approved comparison organisations. Many have freephone numbers and websites.

Ofgem is the government regulator of gas and electricity and ensures comparison organisations are independent and free of charge.

Carrying out a tariff comparison takes less than 5 minutes, It is worth doing 2-3 comparisons to check the best deal for you.

Check the prices are inclusive of VAT (they usually are).

If you decide to switch you can do it there and then – the only additional information you might need is your meter supply numbers (found on bills or on the meter itself) Click here to see what they look like

The switch will take place in around 20 working days (you have 14 working days to opt out)

Don’t forget your existing supplier could offer you a more competitive tariff meaning you could lower your bills WITHOUT switching supplier – contact them to find out more using a Freephone number

Cancel any existing energy direct debits directly at your bank – settle the final bill separately to avoid duplicate payments (check for any overpayments which may have built on the account

Some people have had bad experiences of switching in the past through inappropriate doorstep selling which was commission driven, and not always appropriate for the householder.

Today’s switching process is based on actual usage and current unit charge, compared against all suppliers and tariffs who differ based on for example your postcode. As it is not based on estimates, provided your yearly usage stays nearly the same, any yearly savings identified will be based on lower costs available (not a random number to win your custom)

To satisfy your own mind, try 2 or 3 different comparison sites – but don’t forget the energy prices change on a regular basis – so the same quote may not show as best for you if you do comparisons on separate days or weeks.

The comparison organisations are independent of the energy suppliers and accredited by Ofgem (click here for a list)

Don’t forget to check the customer service reviews if this is as important to you as cost

There are a few key things to remember which may be important to you – check with the comparison organisation or supplier if – you need paper billing, you can’t pay by direct debit, you are a warm homes discount applicant, you are on the priority services register (or would benefit from being on it), – These things do not exclude you from getting a better deal, but it may limit the amount you can save. Ask to ensure you will get the service you require – then it will be a genuine saving.

The process takes a Maximum of 5 weeks – this includes 14 working days to opt out and a 3 day admin changeover period – after the 14 working days it is advisable to take a record of your meter reading for your own piece of mind – this can be written or a picture on your phone.