Will I save money if I switch energy supplier?
Switching your energy tariff can be a quick and easy way to bring down the cost of your household bills.
According to Ofgem, the energy market regulator, around 60% of UK households are on standard variable rate (SVR) tariffs, which are the most expensive on the market.
The average of the Big Six suppliers' SVRs is around £1,063 a year, while the cheapest fixed rate, fixed term deals are well below £800, so there are big savings to be made.
Ofgem is encouraging households to switch their energy supplier to unlock savings of this size by using comparison sites such as MoneySuperMarket's energy channel.
Our site is accredited by the Ofgem Confidence Code, which means you can be sure the information is accurate, up-to-date and independent.
Are there any hidden charges or exit fees when switching?
There are no fees to pay if you are on an SVR and want to switch, although you will have to settle anything you owe to the energy provider.
If you are on a fixed tariff, you might have to pay a termination fee if you want to switch before the end of the contract.
The details of your tariff will be on your bill or on your supplier's website, including details of any termination fees. Termination, or 'exit fees', can vary from £5 to £30 per fuel.
You won't have to pay an exit fee if you are coming to the end of a fixed-term contract. Energy firms must give around seven weeks' notice of the end of the contract and, if you decide to switch after receiving notice, there will be no termination charge.
MoneySuperMarket will not charge you when you switch providers via the site. You can find out more about how MoneySuperMarket makes its money by visiting our transparency hub.
What is the cheapest energy tariff on the market?
New energy tariffs come onto the market every month. The easiest way to find out the cheapest energy tariff is by visiting our energy channel and running a quote. This will show a results table with a ranking of the cheapest tariffs based on your location, usage and house type.
You can also sign up to our Energy Bill Buster. MoneySuperMarket's Energy Bill Buster is a series of exclusive deals we negotiate with leading gas and electricity providers on a regular basis. You can stay up-to-date with which deals are available by signing up on our registration page.
What types of energy tariff can I switch to?
In the past few years the number of new energy providers entering the energy market has increased significantly, with some offering niche products to cater for a range of requirements.
For example, in 2015 Bulb entered the market and launched its 'green energy' dual fuel tariff and, in the same year, Robin Hood Energy, a not-for-profit energy supplier set up by Nottingham City Council, launched a range of tariffs, including one for households on prepayment meters.
Remember: Tenants can switch their energy tariff as long as they pay their bills direct to the supplier. You might still be able to switch if you pay the landlord for your energy, but you would normally have to seek his or her agreement.
Is it cheaper to get gas and electricity from the same supplier?
Suppliers offer so-called 'dual fuel' discounts to encourage customers to sign up for both gas and electricity. This kind of discount makes the price lower than the cost of buying gas and electricity separately from that provider.
BUT it is important to compare dual fuel deals against the price of getting electricity from one provider and gas from another. Buying 'single' tariffs for each fuel might work out cheaper, although it would mean you'd have two different suppliers, two bills and two points of contact.
How to switch energy providers
Switching your energy provider is a quick and hassle-free process and your energy supply won't be cut off as your transition to a different supplier. Here's how the switching process works:
1. Grab your recent energy bill or use our estimation tool
We will need to know your postcode as well as details of your supplier, current tariff and energy consumption. You should be able to find all this information on your latest bill.
If you haven't got a bill to hand, our estimation tool can come up with an accurate estimate based on the type of house, number of rooms and size of your family.
You can also use our estimation tool if you have only recently moved into a property, unless you can ask the previous occupants for the relevant details.
2. Run a quote & select a tariff
Once you have entered your details, including your address and house type, you will be directed to a results page which will display all the tariffs that best suit your energy consumption.
After you have selected the tariff you want to switch to you will be directed to a confirmation page which will ask for details such as direct debit information and meter readings. By providing your meter readings your new supplier will calculate your new bill and will also pass this to your old supplier so a final bill can be issued to you.
3. Check your old account balance
If you are in credit when you switch supplier, the money should be refunded to your account. But it's worth regularly checking for the payment and chasing it up if necessary.
Similarly, keep an eye out for any final payments that may be in arrears from your old provider.
4. Allow for around 3 weeks for the switch to complete
It can typically take up to 21 days for the switching process to be completed. It's a simple procedure that does not require any new plumbing or re-wiring, or any work outside your property. In fact, you should not notice any difference, apart from lower costs.
This also includes a two week 'cooling off' period where you can cancel the switch if you change your mind free of charge.
How to switch from a prepayment meter
If you've got a prepayment meter you can switch to a credit meter. Some suppliers may charge you for the set up so it's worth checking the small print to see if you could end up paying an upfront cost.
Our video guide below explains what you need to do to switch from a prepayment meter.
If you are unable to switch from your prepayment meter, you can switch to a better priced prepayment tariff. You can find out what prepayment deals are available by visiting our energy channel.
†10% of customers could save up to £670. MoneySuperMarket Data, May 2016