Advice column: energy switching

Thursday 1 September 2016

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on switching energy supplier.

I am thinking about switching to a cheaper energy supplier. What should I look out for?

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. So far this year we have seen a 14% increase in enquiries about energy debts.

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

  1. work out how much you currently pay for your gas and electricity
  2. 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
  3. work out what kind of tariff suits you best
  4. compare the different tariffs from different suppliers – an Ofgem confidence code accredited price comparison service should ensure you get information about all the tariffs available in one go
  5. think about other aspects of service such as how the supplier deals with complaints.

To ensure your switch goes smoothly, follow these steps:

  1. 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
  2. tell your current supplier that you are switching to the new supplier
  3. 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
  4. your new supplier will pass this reading onto your old supplier for them to bill you for any outstanding money you owe
  5. your new supplier will let you know the date when your contract with them will begin
  6. get contact numbers for both suppliers in case you need to call either of them during the switching process. You shouldn’t have to contact your old supplier, as your new supplier will contact them for you
  7. 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

The switching process normally takes around three weeks, after a 14 day cooling-off period when you can change your mind about switching. Both energy suppliers should work together to ensure it happens smoothly.

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

You shouldn’t have to pay your old supplier 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 old supplier have disagreed over a final meter reading, you may get another final bill some time after you switch supplier.

If you have any problems during the switching process, you should try to sort it out with the suppliers first.

For more information and advice go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

Look out for our column next week when we focus on pension scams.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit