If you’re thinking of switching energy suppliers, you’re not alone. Especially with so many people cooped up indoors right now, plenty of us can expect higher gas and electricity bills than usual in the coming months. And depending on what tariff you’re on, that could mean paying well over the odds for what is ultimately the same thing. So here’s a quick and easy guide to switching energy suppliers in the UK, along with some tips on bringing down your energy consumption (potentially saving yourself a few hundred quid a year in the process).

Reducing your energy bills

UK Energy gas hob
Photo by iStock.com/FotoCuisinette

The fastest way to whittle down your bills is simply to reduce the amount of energy you use. You can start with the big culprits. Turning down your heating by a couple of degrees, washing at 30 and line-drying your clothes can all make a big difference.

Depending on your provider, rates might also be cheaper in the evenings—between 10 pm and 8 am. This is the case with Economy 10 and Economy 7 tariffs. That said, these are dwindling in popularity, and often work out more expensive if you’re not using the bulk of your energy at night.

It’s also worth pointing out that many UK companies offer both electricity and gas together—known as “duel fuel”. Sometimes this works out cheaper, but savings are sometimes possible if you’re willing to do the extra admin and pay for each separately.

How often should I be switching energy providers?

Thermostat hand on a radiator
Photo by iStock.com/Sinenkiy

Sadly, energy companies don’t seem to value loyalty, and generally give their best deals to new customers. So if you’ve time on your hands and you don’t mind flexing your admin muscles, there’s a good chance you’ll save money switching energy suppliers every year or two. If you’re super on top of things and you’ve switched more recently, it’s worth making a note of when your current tariff ends. That’s when you’re likely to be shifted to a less competitive rate—so it’s a good time to think about changing.

The biggest dangers to watch out for are exit fees, which can kick in if you’re leaving your contract early. Just be sure to check your current contract to see that the savings outweigh the costs if there are any.

How do I work out which energy provider to switch to?

Man switching energy providers UK hands
Photo by iStock.com/MartinPrescott

There’s no one cheapest provider or rate at any given time—depending on your area and usage, rates can differ wildly. So your best bet is to use a dedicated price comparison site. These take your current usage and area into account and do most of the calculation for you. We found some of the best deals on Love Energy Savings. It only takes a few minutes to input your details and see who your cheapest potential providers will be. You can also filter your results to show only tariffs with no exit fees, special offers and green energy (more on that later). Love Energy Savings also donates £10.00 per switch to the Bolton Lads and Girls Club, one of the UK’s biggest youth clubs.

How do I actually make the switch?

You can usually switch providers online directly through whichever comparison tool you end up using. This is considerably more straightforward than the old-fashioned way of calling energy companies to arrange the switch—though you can still do that if you miss the days of being stuck in call centre queues. Either way, you’ll need your MPAN and MPRN codes—both of which you’ll find on your most recent bill. Once you’ve signed on to your new tariff, you’ll have 14 days to change your mind and cancel the contract. Good to know on the off chance you suddenly get the urge to start a new life as a turnip farmer in Bruges. Otherwise, the switch usually takes around 21 days to go through.

What information will I need when switching energy providers?

Woman switching energy providers paying bills
Photo by iStock.com/CreativeDJ

The more information you have on your current costs, the more accurately you’ll be able to work out your potential savings. The main things you’ll need to look up are your energy provider and your current tariff. After that, you’ll want to note your current energy consumption and cost per month.

Should I get a smart meter?

Smart Home Energy meter
Photo by iStock.com/onurdongel

One of the the first big steps to reducing your energy consumption is simply to understand it. Today’s smart meters are making that an increasingly simple proposition even for rubes like me. You can set budgets, see your energy usage, break it down to see what you spend most on, and even look at when in the day you use the most energy.

It’s well worth looking into providers that offer this as a service—many of the big names are rolling out, or have already released programmes that include smart tools to monitor your energy usage. It’ll also save you from going out into your hallway or front garden in your slippers to take readings from your energy meters. That’s because your energy usage will be directly transmitted to your provider.

Should I switch to a renewable energy provider?

Switching Energy Providers UK Green wind turbines
Photo by iStock.com/LeoPatrizi

These days, we’re fortunate enough to have a handful of “green” suppliers, who source their energy either wholly or partly through renewable means. The most popular of these (here in the UK at least) are wind and solar power. They can be slightly more expensive depending on your energy consumption. So if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest deal in town, this might not be for you. If you can afford it though, it’s a great option given the ongoing climate crisis. And if that’s you, it’s also worth considering offsetting your carbon impact when travelling.

Written by:
Filed under: Lifestyle | Tech and Finance

Get all the info on what's on in London direct to your inbox every month