How to switch energy supplier: the easy way to save money on electricity and gas bills

Switching energy supplier is ridiculously easy - and it could save you hundreds of pounds. Here's everything you need to know.

switch energy supplier
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's easy to switch energy supplier - and you can potentially save hundreds of pounds a year by doing so. In fact, regularly changing energy provider is the best way to make sure your energy bills aren't higher than they should be. It doesn't take long: all you need to do is a quick energy comparison (opens in new tab), and you can switch energy supplier in just a few clicks. 

In this guide, we'll explain everything you need to know, from exactly how to switch energy provider to where to shop for the best energy deals (opens in new tab), the paperwork you'll need to hand, and more. (Spoiler: use our energy comparison tool below and you can switch energy supplier in minutes.)

The good news is that over the past five years or so, Ofgem has put rules into place that make it increasingly straightforward to leave your current provider. It's less hassle than ever to switch energy supplier to somewhere better suited to your needs - whether that's one of the 'Big Six', or one of the ever-growing selection of smaller, independent energy firms. And that means potentially big savings for you and your household.

Find the best energy deals for your home now | T3 and GoCompare (opens in new tab)
Whether you want to reduce your energy bills or carbon footprint, or receive a better service than you currently get, our energy comparison tool will find the best tariffs for your home in minutes, and take care of the switch for you. Plus, because we’ve partnered with leading comparison site GoCompare, you'll get access to exclusive energy deals that you won’t find elsewhere too.

Why switch energy supplier?

Let's be honest: the main motivation is usually going to be money. You may be surprised by how much you can save through switching energy supplier - we're talking hundreds of pounds, potentially. But there are additional reasons to change provider too. You may want better customer service; better complaint handling; better bill accuracy. Perhaps you'd like more advice on how to reduce your energy usage...  

Another big motivation for switching energy supplier may be environmental concerns. The best green energy suppliers (opens in new tab) offer an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint, moving away from burning fossil fuels, and towards renewable sources for your electricity and gas. Many are also excellent value for money, and this market is only going to get larger this decade.

How do I switch energy supplier?

There's no need to be daunted - you can switch energy provider in just three simple steps:

1. Run an energy comparison to find a better tariff

There are loads of energy comparison sites online that will quickly tell you what you could and should be paying for your gas and electricity. All you need to do is supply a few details about your home, current provider/tariff and estimated energy consumption - so make sure you have that information to hand. And in less than five minutes you'll be shown a list of alternative tariffs to choose from, with a clear indication of how much each tariff could save you annually.

2. Confirm your energy switch

Made up your mind? You can either click through to your chosen provider's website and sign up, letting your new provider do the switch for you. Or, if you'd prefer to initiate the energy switch yourself, you can contact your chosen supplier directly. 

3. Wait a couple of weeks...

Whether you switch though an energy comparison service, or contact a provider yourself, everything will likely be done for you. You won't even need to tell your current supplier - most new energy suppliers will organise everything quietly behind the scenes. They'll then let you know your exact switching date, which will usually be somewhere between two to three weeks later. (You will need to cancel any direct debits you had set up with your old energy supplier, though.) 

Who is the cheapest energy supplier in the UK?

Sorry, we're afraid there's no one answer to this question. It really does depend on how and when you use the most energy, and where in the UK you live. That's why energy comparison sites have so much value: after all, there are over 70 energy suppliers in the UK, each offering a number of tariffs that can change weekly. 

Energy comparison sites make it really easy to see which energy suppliers have the best tariffs specifically for you. (Head to our dedicated guide to see which are the best energy comparison sites in the UK.) 

However, bear in mind that most energy comparison sites will initially only show you deals from suppliers they can switch you to - and these may not always be the very cheapest. To ensure you see the very cheapest tariffs, make sure you filter your search results to show all plans - including the ones they can't switch you to. Why does this happen? Read on...

How do energy comparison sites make money?

Most energy comparison sites make money by charging a fee to the supplier every time they complete an energy switch. These commercial relationships keep the energy comparison free for customers, and enable comparison sites to handle the energy switch for you – making it quick, efficient and hassle-free. 

Plus, thanks to these relationships, comparison sites are often able to negotiate exclusive deals that you wouldn't have access to if you decided to switch energy by going directly to a supplier yourself.

However, the absolute cheapest deals may be ones they can’t switch you to. That's why you'll often be shown a filtered set of results first, so always toggle between the options so you're fully informed before making an energy switch. (And bear in mind cheapest isn't always best.)

When should you switch energy supplier? And can you without a penalty?

One potential issue stops you switching your energy provider right away: penalties. Check the details of your existing agreement with your supplier to see if you have a fixed-term contract, when it ends and whether you'll incur any exit penalty or fees for leaving early. These can sometimes cost as much as £30, although this charge might be worth accepting if your total saving is big enough.

Also, be aware that you're completely free to legally switch energy supplier in the 49 days leading up to the end of a fixed-term contract without any exit fees.

Is switching energy supplier worth it?

Very easy answer here: yes. Well, usually. You've probably heard stories of friends and family who have saved literally hundreds of pounds by doing an energy switch. There's no reason why that can't be you.

In fact, it's well worth checking every year to make sure that your current supplier and tariff are working out as the most reasonable for you. Unless you feel staunchly loyal to that brand - and loyalty rarely pays in the world of energy - you can simply switch again whenever you wish.

switch energy

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How often should you switch energy?

How long is a piece of string!? Because of the ease you now have to chop and change  energy supplier, there's nothing stopping you comparing prices as often as you wish to make sure you're getting the very best prices.

At the very least, it's worth having a five minute dabble on an energy comparison site every six months or so. But if you get a letter through the door or in your inbox informing you of an upcoming price increase, this should be an obvious prompt to compare the energy market.

Can I switch energy provider if I rent?

This depends on the terms of your tenancy agreement. Generally speaking, you'll be responsible for sorting out and directly paying for your gas and/or electricity. That means it's the same process to change as it is for homeowners. 

If your landlord is responsible for the property's energy bills, however, you're stuck with whatever they decide. Of course you can ask your landlord to switch energy, but they would be under no obligation.

Can I switch gas and electricity if I owe money?

If you've fallen behind with your payments, Ofgem states that you are still permitted to switch energy supplier if you've been in debt to your current company for less than 28 days. The amount owed will simply get added to your final bill.

Outside that 28-day period? Then it's essential to pay up in full before you action your energy switch.

What is the Energy Switch Guarantee?

The Energy Switch Guarantee is a voluntary scheme to which a growing number of energy suppliers are signing up. All of the so-called 'Big Six' companies (British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) are included, and many smaller providers too.

The Guarantee binds them to a higher standard of switching, including promises to switch your supply within 21 days (including the 14-day cooling-off period), sending a final bill within six weeks, and refunding you anything you're owed within another 10 working days. You may be entitled to compensation if these conditions are not met.

Energy comparison: Find the best energy deals for your home now | T3 with GoCompare (opens in new tab)
Whether you want to reduce your energy bills or carbon footprint, or receive a better service than you currently get, our energy comparison tool will find the best tariffs for your home in minutes, and take care of the switch for you. Plus, because we’ve partnered with leading comparison site GoCompare, you'll get access to exclusive energy deals that you won’t find elsewhere too.

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Adam Marshall

Adam is the Content Director of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles the publisher produces about antivirus software, VPN, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews. Leading and developing a great team, Adam can still be seen dusting his keyboard off to write articles for the likes of TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide, having started his career at consumer champions Which?.