When can I switch energy suppliers without a penalty?

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    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated February 16, 2022

    Switching energy suppliers is pretty straightforward, but it’s not something that people in the UK do very regularly. According to an Ofgem report, nearly half of households have never switched or have only switched once.

    But did you know that making a switch could save you hundreds of pounds a year because suppliers are more likely to offer bigger discounts to new customers?

    There are numerous reasons why you should switch suppliers, but the most obvious is to save money, so there isn’t any point in making the change if your new deal is the same price as your current plan. You also have to consider what penalty or exit fees might need to be paid on top of this. The cost of such fees may cancel out the money you’d be saving on your new plan, making the exchange redundant.

    If you want to switch but are worried about a hefty penalty fee, read on to find out how you can switch without paying the price.

    How to switch without paying a penalty

    When you sign up with an energy supplier, you’re usually tied into a contract that lasts either 12, 18 or 24 months. It’s a bit like a phone contract where, once you’re signed up, you’re tied in until it expires. Your business energy contract works in the same way. When you start out, you’re generally on a fixed-term tariff. These plans are good as you pay a fixed amount per kWh of energy, even if energy prices increase. After the 12, 18 or 24 months are up, you’ll automatically be switched to a standard variable tariff.

    Once your contract has ended and you’re on this standard plan, you have two options. You can switch suppliers for no fee or you can take out another fixed plan with the same supplier. If you do the latter, you’ll be tied in for a further number of months.

    However, a penalty fee may be incurred if you wish to switch while you’re still on a fixed plan. Suppliers will usually have a set exit fee per fuel that must be paid if you want to leave. This can range from £5 per fuel to £30, depending on your supplier. This means that, if you wish to cancel your home or business gas, the penalty fee could be anywhere between £10 and £60.

    If this is the case, you should wait until your fixed term ends, and then you’ll be able to switch penalty free.

    Alternatively, there’s a 49-day window that many people aren’t aware of. Introduced by Ofgem, the window means that you can switch energy suppliers up to 49 days before your contract is due to end without paying any exit fees. This is usually the best time to swap providers.

    When is the best time to switch energy supplier?

    The best time to switch energy supplier is when you don’t have to pay any exit fees (as previously discussed) and when you don’t owe the supplier anything.

    It can also be a good idea to switch just before energy prices are due to rise or just before winter.

    You should keep an eye on the Big Six. These are the biggest six energy companies in the UK and include British Gas and EDF Energy. When they start to increase their prices, other energy providers tend to do the same, so switch and tie in a fixed plan for a few months to save some money.

    During winter, you’ll use more electricity and gas to light your home in the darker evenings and keep it warm. Therefore, if you want to pay less for your gas and electricity, early autumn could be the best time to make the swap. Energy providers may also have more offers available then.

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    Choose your business address

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    Are you comparing for a business or home?

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    Home


    Go Back
    Select Utility
    Now please select a utility I want to get prices for...
    Gas
    Electric
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    Water
    Go Back
    Next
    Please enter your business gas information
    How much do you spend & how often?

    An estimate is fine if you don't have a bill to hand

    Go Back
    Get Prices

    Let’s save time, can we automatically gather meter information?

    ? What does this mean?
    To get your quotes at lightening speed we need several key pieces of information which can all be found on your electricity bill. But by simply ticking this box, we can search ‘industry held data’ to get your meter number, electricity consumption and current energy supplier. This means that we can get you quick quotes without asking you to dig out all of your paperwork. This is personal data therefore we need you to allow us to access this information.
    Go Back

    Do you know your electric meter number?

    Does your meter number end in any of the following?

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    Enter meter number
    I don’t know
    Please enter your business electricity information
    How much do you spend & how often?

    An estimate is fine if you don't have a bill to hand

    Start date for a new contract?
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    Please enter your water information
    How much do you spend & how often?

    An estimate is fine if you don't have a bill to hand

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