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Switching gas or electricity supplier

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

A lot of companies supply gas and electricity. They need to compete with each other to get your business. This means there are often good deals around and you could save money by switching suppliers.

This page provides a handy checklist of the steps you need to take to switch energy supplier.

Before you switch

Before you switch supplier, follow these steps to ensure you choose the right supplier for you:

  • work out how much you currently pay for your gas and electricity
  • check the terms and conditions with your current supplier to see if there is a penalty for cancelling your current contract – this is likely to be the case if you have a fixed term or fixed price contract
  • work out what kind of tariff suits you best
  • compare the different tariffs from different suppliers
  • think about other aspects of service such as how the supplier deals with complaints.

More help on what to look for when choosing a supplier

How do you switch

Price comparison tools offer an easy way to compare the prices from lots of suppliers at once. When you know how much energy you use, how much you currently pay and what kind of tariff you want, you can compare the prices from different suppliers – suppliers are now obligated to provide all this information on bills and statements

More help with comparing prices offered by different energy supplier

If you're on a fixed term contract

If you’re on a fixed term contract, you will be notified before your fixed term contract ends so you can decide if you want to stay with your supplier or switch. You’ll get details of the rates you’ll move onto if you stay with the same supplier and don’t agree to a different tariff.

You’ll be able to switch without having to pay any termination fees and you can’t be rolled forward onto another fixed term contract without your consent.

If you don’t get notice about the end of your fixed term contract, are charged a termination fee to switch or get rolled over to another fixed term contract without agreeing to this, you should first complain to your energy supplier and if you're still not happy with the outcome you can complain to the Consumer Council.

When you’ve chosen who to switch to

To ensure your switch goes smoothly, follow these steps:

  • contact the new supplier and ask to switch. They will give you a date when your supply will be switched. If you use a price comparison website, they’ll contact the new supplier for you
  • tell your current supplier that you are switching to the new supplier
  • on the day of the switch, your new supplier will ask for a meter reading, to ensure you are billed at the right time for the right amount
  • your new supplier will pass this reading onto your old supplier for them to bill you for any outstanding money you owe
  • your new supplier will let you know the date when your contract with them will begin
  • get contact numbers for both suppliers in case you need to call either of them during the process. You shouldn't have to contact your old supplier, as your new supplier will contact them for you
  • if you're in credit, check with your old supplier to make sure you get back all the money you're owed when you switch

How long does switching take?

The switching process normally must be complete within 15 working days, after a 10 working day cooling-off period when you can change your mind about switching. Both energy suppliers should work together to ensure it happens smoothly.

If you have any problems during the process, you should try to sort it out with the suppliers first. If you still need help, you can contact the Consumer Council.

When switching supplier is there a risk your energy supply will be disconnected?

Your new supplier will use the same wires, pipes and meters as your previous supplier and you won’t be disconnected. The only change you should notice is a different supplier name at the top of your bills.

When you’ve switched energy supplier, do you still have to pay bills that arrive from your previous supplier?

You shouldn’t pay for any energy that has been used after your switch date. Your old supplier will send you a final bill to pay based on a reading provided by your new supplier. You have to pay for all energy used up to the date before you switched supplier.

If you and your previous supplier have disagreed over a final meter reading, you may get another final bill some time after you switch supplier.

Next steps

More information

How to switch energy suppliers – Switch On – a guide for energy users at www.consumercouncil.org.uk .

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