A step by step guide to switching energy
Switching energy suppliers should be a piece of cake right? Here's a guide to ensure all goes smoothly.
At lovemoney.com, we're always encouraging you to save money by switching your energy supplier, and energy experts such as Neil Faulkner are constantly informing plebs like me when to switch, and more importantly, who to switch to.
I'm a pleb in this instance because, although I've always shopped around for the best deal from my current energy provider, I've been reluctant to jump ship and change suppliers completely.ff
Firstly, I wasn't sure how it worked. And secondly, I didn't know how much hassle it would entail.
I'd been tempted to switch a few times, but after being stranded with no internet when I switched broadband, the thought did even cross my mind that by switching providers, I could be left with no hot water or kettle to make my cup of tea in the morning.
And sitting in the dark with a cold pot noodle is not my idea of fun.
But then again, I know that our readers saved, on average, £206 each by switching tariffs last year. And with energy prices down this spring, and my tariff still sky high, I decided that I wasn't going to be taken for a mug any longer. After all, So I chose to take the plunge and switch both my electricity and gas to a new supplier.
Here's my step-by-step guide to switching energy, plus a few tips I discovered during my journey.
First things first
The first thing you need to do if you want to switch is to find a supplier to switch to!
As a rule of thumb, opting for 'dual fuel' (both electricity and gas from the same supplier) is generally cheaper than getting your energy from different suppliers.
Companies usually give hefty discounts on dual fuel tariffs and for paying by monthly direct debit. But it's worth doing your homework all the same.
The smartest way to find the best tariff is to use a switching service such as our gas and electricity comparison tool, which will hunt down the best deals, and tell you how much you can save compared to your current tariff.
Sifting through the jargon
Once you've found the right package, it's time to switch. You'll be asked for your contact details, and will receive a confirmation email to let you know the switch is in progress.
If you're switching electricity supply, you'll also be asked for your Metering Point Administration Number (also known as the MPAN, your 'Supply number', or, for hardcore utilities fans, the 'S' number).
This can be found on your electricity bill with a large S in front of it, followed by a grid of 13 numbers. You'll only need to quote the numbers to your new provider.
Similarly, if you're switching your gas, you'll need to quote your Meter Point Reference Number, (MPRN or M number), which should also be printed on your gas bill.
If you can't find these numbers, contact your current energy supplier, who will be able to give these to you.
Cooling off period
Once you've switched, you'll have a cooling-off period of between seven and ten days to change your mind without penalty.
Once this has passed, your supplier will send you a welcome pack outlining your terms and conditions, or a standard letter followed by further information as your switch progresses.
You're likely to receive a lot of correspondence from both your new and old suppliers during the switch, so it's a good idea to keep anything received in a folder you can easily get to, should any queries arise.
In addition, it's important not to be complacent when it comes to switching. In theory, after you've given over your details and a couple of meter readings, your new supplier should take care of all the formalities.
But in my case, relying on the supplier delayed my transfer from the recommended six to eight weeks to a drawn-out 12 weeks.
Thankfully, it wasn't too stressful, and most of the delays came from some confusion that arose about my final meter reading. So, what I've learned is that, in order to speed things up, it's wise to give your final meter reading to both your new and old supplier.
Not only will this speed things up at both ends, but you'll be able to settle any outstanding amounts owed with greater ease.
In addition, cancel any direct debit arrangements - but only after you've paid your final bill, and make sure you let your bank(s) know too.
My worst nightmare
So finally, did my worst nightmare of being left with no hot water and my beloved brew come true?
Thankfully no. As all the energy suppliers use the same pipes, meters and equipment to pump gas or electricity into your home, there is never any interruption in service.
Nobody is going to suddenly turn off a tap to your gas or electricity supply, and the only thing you should notice is a cheaper bill each quarter once you've completed the switch.
So why not give it a go? You could save £206!
Compare tariffs from across the market using our gas and electricity service!