According to a story in the newspaper Western Daily Press on the 12th of May 2016, customers throughout the country may be paying a staggering £4billion a year more than they need to during the course of any single year. The reason appears to be a simple question of inertia, with many consumers failing to review their current energy deals, comparing what alternatives are on offer and switching, where appropriate, to a different supplier or different tariff.
What you need to know about switching
In order to switch gas and electricity tariffs or suppliers, there are essentially two things you need to know:
how your agreement with your current supplier compares with others – in other words, whether there are gains to be made by switching to an alternative supplier; and
if you decide it is worthwhile switching, just how you go about it.
Here at Over50Choices, we make comparing the best energy deals simple and straight forward. Through our partnership with an accredited comparison website (one that is registered with the industry regulator, Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) we are able to offer the full range of available suppliers and make comparisons on your behalf.
Don’t forget when making any comparisons to include the cost of any exit fee from your existing supplier. This is a penalty fee that is often charged if you leave your existing supplier before the end of the contract – typically £30 per energy type. Not all suppliers charge this fee and, in some cases, there may be ways around not paying it, as this useful article explains.
The steps involved
If you decide to go ahead and make the switch, the following simple steps are likely to be involved:
- first of all, make sure that any outstanding debt with your existing supplier is no more than £500 – any more, and you may not be able to switch;
- having chosen your new supplier, follow the switching instructions you are given – the supplier then takes on responsibility for making the switch, which may take up to 8 weeks to complete;
- your new supplier contacts you in writing or by telephone, to confirm the details of your new contract of supply;
- you have 7 or 14 days – depending on the supplier – as a “cooling off” period in which you may change your mind;
- let your existing supplier know that you are changing and confirm that there are no obstacles to prevent this happening;
- pay off any outstanding utility bills from your present supplier and cancel any standing orders or direct debits; and
- take a final meter reading on the switch over date so that this may be given to your new supplier and a record kept of the reading in case you encounter any problems with the old supplier about your final account with them.
It is then time to rest assured that you have secured the energy supply contract that suits your needs and which represents the best value for money. But don’t rest assured for too long – remember that the picture keeps changing and with it different supplier’s prices.
For the same reasons that you made the switch in the first place, it is important to keep your energy bills and contract of supply under regular review, so that you do not miss opportunities to save money again in the future.
Finally, if you are a pensioner, disabled, have health problems or in receipt of benefits, check if any additional financial help is available with your current supplier.
Further reading: Energy saving tips.