What’s in this guide?
Many people never switch after signing up to a supplier, and so never have to think about when their contract ends.
This could be a terrible thing as many energy suppliers transfer their existing customers onto their most expensive tariffs after their contracts end.
You are usually told this before you sign up, but some suppliers aren’t as forthcoming with all of that information.
This has caused some customers horror as they open their bill to see that it has increased a significant amount.
Let’s take a closer look, including how you can find your contact information and how you can switch.
How will I know when my energy tariff is ending?
According to Ofgem, the regulator of the energy industry, your supplier is obligated to send you information about your contract end date 42 – 49 days before the end of your plan.
Once you have received this letter, you can freely switch energy suppliers without incurring a penalty – you should check if your tariff has penalties or ‘exit fees’ in the information about your tariff.
If you haven’t checked out information about your tariff before, it should be provided to you on your latest bill.
This will also usually tell you when your contract ends and which of the same supplier’s tariffs could be saving you money.
Did you know that the recent regulations by Ofgem mean that energy suppliers legally have to tell you about their cheaper tariffs?
That is why British Gas raised the prices of Sainsbury’s Energy. Otherwise, they would have had to inform millions of British Gas customers about cheaper offers with their partner.
You can also switch before you receive the letter from your supplier. However, this does mean that you might incur a penalty for doing so.
However, taking a look at the options you have doesn’t cost a thing!
Even if you can’t switch for a while or haven’t made any solid decisions, it’s important to note that you can still compare energy suppliers to give you an idea of what’s on offer.
What are my options?
If, for example, you are on a fixed rate tariff that is about to end soon you could make use of energy comparison tools which will tell you which tariff deals are available to you right now.
Or, you could take a look at the handy EnergySeek reviews which break down each energy supplier, telling you the prices you can expect as well as their customer satisfaction.
Either way, your energy supply won’t be shut off regardless of whether you stay with your supplier or you switch.
While before switching energy suppliers may have been complicated and painful, thanks to rules and regulations set out by Ofgem, switching should be a smooth and pain-free process that your new supplier completes for you.
Can I switch before my contract ends?
In short, yes.
However, you will usually have to pay the penalty if you try and switch before your 42 – 49-day switching window.
Some suppliers have tariffs that don’t have any fixed terms or exit fees, so when you compare you may want to consider this if it is something that is important to you.
Bulb is an example of an energy supplier that will refund you your exit fees, so you can switch to them at any time and not have to worry about your switching penalties.
Is switching complicated?
Years ago, switching was complex and stressful.
However, regulations are now protecting you as the customer from this stress, so your new supplier will take care of everything for you.
How long does it take to switch?
Energy suppliers have a 14 day cooling off period where you can cancel your switch without a fee, so energy companies do not do anything during that period.
In total, it can take about six weeks to complete the process.
Energy suppliers will update you on your switch by post or email.
Aren’t all energy suppliers the same?
Many energy suppliers are almost identical in specific ways as they receive their energy generally from the same place, with a few green energy exceptions where companies invest in renewable energy generators.
But it’s not all about costs.
Many customers say that customer service is more important than the price of the tariffs, which many customers say they are happy to pay a bit more to stay with a helpful and considerate supplier.
Can my tariff come with me when I move?
Some suppliers will allow you to take your cheap tariff with you when you move, but you need to get in contact with your supplier first and check.
You should also check the rates in your new area (with a postcode if you have it).
Once I switch, will my supplier tell me if prices rise?
There is going to be a price increase of between 30% and 40% in the next five years unless there is a massive change in global politics.
However, your energy supplier has to warn you about these price rises with a minimum of 30 days notice.
Are you ready to compare?