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Switch energy supplier

This advice applies to England

You’ll probably save money on your gas and electricity bills by switching to a new supplier.

Things to consider before you switch

You should check:

  • whether you have a fixed-term contract that lets your supplier charge you a fee to leave - this is called an exit fee and you can check it on your energy bill
  • what the customer service rating is like for the potential new supplier
  • whether your current supplier offers a cheaper tariff - it will save you the effort of switching

You might not be able to switch if you’re in debt to your supplier or you’re a tenant.

If you get the Warm Home Discount (a benefit for pensioners and people on a low income), check whether the new supplier offers it - you’ll lose it if they don’t.

If you’ve applied for the Warm Home Discount but not yet got it, you'll have to apply again if you switch supplier. Your new supplier might have different rules about who gets it. This doesn’t apply if you get the Warm Home Discount automatically.

If you have a prepayment meter you can switch supplier unless you owe your supplier more than £500 for gas or £500 for electricity.

Choosing the right tariff

There are different factors you should consider about energy tariffs to find the right one for you.

For example, you might want:

  • a flexible tariff that you can get out of at any time
  • an environmentally-friendly tariff
  • the cheapest tariff available

You may also need a specific tariff for the energy meter you have - for example, if you have a prepayment meter or ‘dual rate’ meter.

If you’re unsure, read our guide to energy tariffs before you switch.

How to switch supplier

Follow these steps to switch energy supplier:

  1. Compare tariffs from different suppliers.
  2. Once you’ve found one, call the supplier - they’ll set up the switch and tell your old supplier. Alternatively, you can switch online.
  3. Take a meter reading on the day of the transfer to give to your new supplier - this means they won’t charge you for energy used before the switch.
  4. Pay your old supplier’s final bill or get a refund if you’re in credit.

Once the switch has started, you’ll also need to give the new supplier your energy meter reference numbers, known as ‘MPRN’ or ‘MPAN’ numbers. This will make sure they switch your energy supply and not someone else's. You can find these numbers on your energy bill.

How long it should take to switch

Switching to a new supplier should take around 17 days, but often takes up to 3 weeks.

Switching to a new gas supplier could take a few days longer before the end of May 2017. This is because all gas suppliers are changing computer systems. You won't be affected if you're only changing electricity supplier.

The new supplier should contact you to tell you what day your supply should be switched. If you're switching both gas and electricity, these will normally happen on different dates.

If it takes longer than 17 days, contact the supplier to find out why. You can make a complaint if you’re not happy with their explanation.

Changing your mind about switching supplier

Once you enter into a contract with the new supplier (this could be done verbally on the phone), you have 14 days to change your mind and cancel the switch. You should contact the new supplier to let them know.

If you cancel your contract after 14 days, you may be charged a fee.

Problems switching

Sometimes there might be a problem with the switch - for example, if:

  • someone else’s supply is switched instead of yours
  • you’re still billed by your old supplier after you’ve switched
  • the switch still hasn’t happened after 3 weeks

You should first try and sort out the problem with either your old or new supplier, depending on who you think is at fault.

If you can’t resolve the issue, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for advice. 

Further help

If you’re having problems switching, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

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