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Switch energy supplier

This advice applies to England

Because many energy companies are struggling, you won't find as many tariffs as normal. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again. 

If you've owed money to your supplier for more than 28 days, check how to switch if you're in debt.

If you rent your home and your landlord pays your supplier, check how to switch energy supplier if you’re a tenant.

If your energy supplier goes bust

Don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens.

Read our advice about what to do if your energy supplier goes bust.

Before you switch

You might need to check some things before switching supplier - it depends on the type of meter or contract you have.

For example, if you have a prepayment meter you’ll need to check the new supplier can give you a prepayment tariff.

If your current contract has an exit fee

You might be charged if you leave a supplier before your fixed tariff contract ends. This is called an exit fee. Check your bill or online account to see if you have an exit fee.

You can switch without paying an exit fee if your contract ends in fewer than 7 weeks. You can switch earlier if your supplier contacts you and says you can.

Check your contract or contact your supplier if you're not sure when your contract ends.

If you’d have to pay an exit fee to switch at the moment, check:

  • when you’ll be able to switch without paying an exit fee
  • how much you’d save by switching

You might save more by switching, even if you have to pay an exit fee.

If you have a smart meter

Before you switch, check if your smart meter will work in 'smart mode' after switching.

Smart mode means your meter automatically sends readings to your supplier.

Some suppliers can't support smart mode yet, so they'll ask you to send meter readings yourself.

Check if your meter can work in smart mode after switching using our tool.

If you have a prepayment meter

You’ll usually have to choose a ‘prepayment tariff’ - this means you pay for your energy before you use it.

These tariffs are usually more expensive than direct debit tariffs and there aren't as many to choose from. A direct debit tariff usually means that you pay your energy bills every month.

If you don't owe money to your prepayment supplier, think about replacing your prepayment meter with a credit meter. This will allow you to choose from cheaper direct debit tariffs. Find out more about moving to a credit meter.

If you owe money to your supplier, you can switch after you've paid back the debt. You can get help paying your debt on your prepayment meter.

When you've finished paying the debt, your supplier should give you a credit meter if you ask for one.

If you have a two rate or ‘Economy 7’ electricity meter

You should contact the new supplier before you try to switch to a single rate tariff. This is because you can’t get some single rate tariffs with two rate meters.

Tell your supplier you have a two rate meter and ask them to check the price and tariff you’ve seen online.

Decide what kind of tariff you want

It’s worth looking at different tariffs to find one that meets your needs. Think about what’s important to you, for example:

  • a flexible tariff that you can get out of at any time
  • an environmentally-friendly tariff
  • the cheapest tariff available
  • an electric vehicle tariff

Compare suppliers and switch

If you want to switch to a different supplier, start by comparing prices using a price comparison website. You can find a list of authorised price comparison websites on Ofgem's website. You can then switch using the website or by calling your supplier.

You'll need to wait to hear from the new supplier. They’ll set up the switch and tell your old supplier.

Take a meter reading on the day of the switch to give to your new supplier. This means they won’t charge you for energy used before the switch.

You’ll have a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can cancel the switch without paying a fee. Your cooling-off period begins the day after you agree a contract with the supplier.

You'll be switched to your new supplier within 5 working days after your cooling-off period ends. You can ask to be switched sooner but only if you make an ‘express request’. You’ll be asked if you want to do this during the switching process. If you want to switch on a  specific date, contact your new supplier to ask if you can do this. For example, if you’re on a fixed term contract and don’t want to switch until it ends.

You'll need to pay your old supplier’s final bill - or get a refund if they owe you money.

If you want to cancel the switch you should tell the supplier you’re switching to as soon as possible. If you haven’t been switched yet they’ll stop it happening. You’ll stay with your current supplier.

Cancelling after you’ve switched

You should tell your new supplier you want to cancel. They should explain your options as soon as they can. You can:

  • agree a new contract with your new supplier

  • agree a new contract with your old supplier on ’equivalent terms’ to your old contract - this means agreeing to terms and conditions similar to those you had before switching

  • agree a new contract with a different supplier

  • do nothing and be put on a ‘deemed’ contract with your new supplier - this is a default energy tariff linked to the price cap

Find out more about the price cap from Ofgem.

You should compare the tariffs available using a price comparison website before you make a decision. You can find a list of approved price comparison websites on Ofgem's website. You won’t find as many deals as usual because energy prices are higher than normal at the moment.

If you want to agree a new contract with your old supplier, you should do this quickly. You only have 15 working days to agree a new contract with your old supplier. The 15 days start the day your new supplier sends you your options. When you return to your old supplier they only have to offer you similar terms to your old contract for 16 working days. The 16 days start the day you’re switched back.

Your new supplier must continue to supply your energy until you agree a different contract with them, or a new contract with a different supplier.

If there’s a delay with switching suppliers

When you switch, the new supplier will ask for information like your name and postcode. After you've given them the information they need, they should switch you within 15 working days.

If it’s been more than 15 working days and you haven’t been switched, contact the supplier to check they have the information they need. If they do, they should automatically pay you £30.

They should pay you the £30 within 10 working days. They'll either send you a cheque or pay directly into your bank account.

You can complain to the supplier if they don't pay this.

If you need more advice about compensation, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

Further help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you're having problems switching.

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter you might be able to get extra help. Check if you can get grants and benefits to help pay your energy bills.

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