How to switch your energy supplier to make substantial savings:

If you are thinking of switching but don’t really know   where to start, here’s a short guide to help put you on the right path and save some money today.

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Now, we are all looking for ways to cut down on our household bills and one very easy way to save some money is to switch your gas and/or electricity supplier. If only to check and ensure you are not overpaying for your energy, spending a few minutes on a comparison site is well worthwhile. 

Why should I switch?

It’s simple – get the best deal and pay less for the energy you use. 
Typically using comparison site households can save over £400 per year by switching their energy supplier and with added incentives of cash-back offers or crates of wine, there is no better time to switch.
How do I switch my energy supplier?
There are many great comparison sites online, which simply require you to provide your postcode, email address, details from your previous energy bills and your preferred payment method - if you want to set up a direct debit you will need your bank and debit card details to hand. 
Be sure not to go direct, the best and easiest way to save is to use a trusted comparison site. We have researched the best on the market and here are our recommendations:

Most comparison sites can estimate your annual usage if you do not have a bill to hand, however to make sure you receive the most accurate results it is advised to provide as much information from your previous bill as possible.
What types of energy tariffs are there?
With so many tariffs on the market it can seem a little daunting and confusing to make sure you choose the right one. To lend a helping hand we’ve listed the most common types of tariffs here along with explanations:

Fixed energy tariffs

Similar in principle to a capped energy tariff, a fixed energy tariff guarantees a fixed unit price for a set period of time. The only main difference is that in the event that standard prices do drop within your set period, your unit price will remain the same, as you will be locked in to your original set price.
Capped energy tariffs
A capped energy tariff gives you the surety that the price you pay for your electricity or gas will not exceed a certain cost for a set period. This safeguard’s you against future energy price rises. Typically the unit price of energy for capped tariffs is more expensive than on variable plans, however if standard energy prices drop before the end of your contract period, your price may also be reduced. Beware though, if you wish to move to another supplier within the contract period, you may have to pay an exit fee. Therefore we would always advise you to check the full terms and conditions before you switch.

‘Green’ energy tariffs

If you’re environmentally conscious you may want to consider switching to a ‘green’ energy tariff. Green tariffs vary from supplier to supplier, but they all either make a contribution to environmental projects or provide energy directly from renewable sources in varying degrees.  
Dual fuel tariffs
A dual fuel tariff means that you are supplied your gas and electricity from the same energy supplier. Often dual fuel tariffs are cheaper than keeping gas and electricity plans with separate providers, plus dealing with one company can make managing your bills that little bit easier.

Economy 7 energy tariffs

Economy 7 energy tariffs simply offer a cheaper rate of electricity at night. The reason it is called ‘Economy 7’ is that the energy is cheaper for 7 hours at night, typically from 12am- 7am or 1am-8am dependent on supplier. 
You will need a certain type of electricity meter for an economy 7 tariff, which shows two separate readings – one to record usage in the day and one for at night. Generally to be cost effective and save you money, it is estimated that you must use at least 55% of your energy at night – which is popular among households with night storage heaters - however this can very much depend on where you live, the price of your tariff and how much energy you use. 
Economy 10 energy tariffs
Economy 10 energy tariffs provide reduced rates for electricity used during 10 set off-peak hours of the day. Off-peak hours are usually; 3 hours in the afternoon, 2 in the evening and 5 at night. Whilst the cost of these off-peak hours can be heavily discounted, often the standard daily rate is high. So it is important that if you choose this type of tariff, you do limit peak hour usage otherwise you will cancel out any savings made. As with Economy 7, you will require a meter that can record usage at different times of the day. If you would like to switch to an Economy 10 tariff and don’t have a suitable meter, your new energy supplier should be able to arrange installation of one, but be aware that they may charge you for this. 

Online energy tariffs

By choosing an online energy tariff, this allows you to access and manage your energy account online and as a result tend to be cheapest deals on the market. This means you don’t usually receive paper bills through the post, but does mean you can manage your account at your own convenience, at any time and also update your own meter readings with ease. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t mean you have to pay online and you will still be able to contact your supplier by phone when necessary.
Prepayment energy tariffs
Prepayment tariffs are specifically for people who have prepayment meters installed in their house and you pay for your energy in advance by purchasing ‘top-ups’ in the form of pre-pay tokens, cards or a key. Whilst some people prefer prepayment tariffs as they find them an easier way to manage their outgoings, they are notoriously known to be one of the most expensive ways to pay for your energy, due to their inflated price per unit cost.

Social energy tariffs

Social energy tariffs are made available by all energy suppliers to assist their low-income customers pay for their energy bills. If you spend more than 10% of your household income on your energy bills, you may be eligible to benefit from this tariff. The terms of a social energy tariff mean that you are guaranteed to only pay up to the lowest standard tariff offered by any supplier in your area. 
As all energy suppliers have to offer a social energy tariff, be sure to contact your supplier for more details if you believe you would be eligible.
Feed-in tariffs
Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are suitable for households that produce their own electricity using renewable devices such as solar photovoltaic panels or wind turbines. Feed-in tariff schemes ensure you receive cash payments for electricity generated and exported back to the national grid, plus your energy bills will be reduced because you will produce a percentage of your household electricity yourself. It is important to note that due to the complexities of feed-in tariff schemes they are not available through switch comparison websites.
If you have any further questions about switching please post your question on our forum…


Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the legal information contained on “consumeruk” is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Neither the Proprietor nor Dean Dunham can assume responsibility and do not accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it.

Last updated: 22 June 2012

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