How often can I switch my domestic energy suppliers?
How often can I switch suppliers?
We recommend that people compare energy suppliers regularly and switch to providers to better deals whenever they can. You’re likely to save money by doing this. But if you’ve already made the switch, how soon can you change suppliers again?
How early can you switch suppliers?
Once you’ve signed up to a new energy plan, you’re generally tied in for around 12 to 24 months. However, there will be a cooling off period of 14 days. This means that should you change your mind for any reason or find a better deal, you can back out without having to pay a penalty fee. Most providers state that a switch takes 17 days – this includes the two-week cooling off period as well as an additional three days for the change to take place.
After this period has passed, you won’t be able to switch until at least the 28th day, and switching after this date could result in a penalty fee. This fee can vary in price from £5 per fuel up to £30 per fuel. This means that, for example, if you pay for both gas and electricity from a provider, you could pay anything from £10 to £60.
You may be willing to pay this if you can save more money per year than the cost of the penalty fee. For instance, if you had to pay £20 per fuel to exit, but you could save £80 per year by switching, then making the switch would still be worthwhile. However, if the penalty fee was at the top end of the spectrum at £60 and you were going to save the same amount per year by switching, you may choose to stay with the same provider.
To sum up, you’ll have a cooling off period of 14 days to cancel or switch to another provider during this time. You can switch after 28 days of being with a new supplier, however a penalty fee may be required. This means that, theoretically, you could switch every 28 days, however this likely wouldn’t be cost effective and could take a lot of effort on your behalf. Once you’re out of a contract, for instance after 12 months, you can leave penalty free.
Now we’ve determined when and how often you can switch energy suppliers, should you do it?
There isn’t a set time frame to determine how often you should switch suppliers. It may be worth having a look at what other providers are offering every 12 months or so. However, you should only swap if you’re sure you’re going to save money and if you’re completely happy with the new proposed tariff. There’s no point in switching for switching’s sake. You should also be sure that the tariff suits your business’ needs. Forking out additional unexpected costs can be frustrating when you initially thought that you were getting a good deal.
The people that benefit most from switching are the ones that haven’t done so for a while. Generally, providers will offer better discounts to new customers than to businesses that have used them for a long time.
If you’ve been with your current provider for more than 12 months but are happy that they’re still offering a competitive rate, then it could be worth staying with them. However, you should make the swap if you’re not happy with the price or service.
The best time to switch is during the 49 days before your contract is due to expire. Ofgem introduced this window that means, whether you’re tied in for 12 months or three years, you can switch suppliers up to 49 days before this expiration date.
Will switching save me money?
Ofgem has previously stated that the average homeowner could save up to £300 by switching energy providers. Businesses might be able to save more than this as their electricity and gas usage tends to be higher than that of homeowners.
However, we can’t promise that switching will always save you money. If your current provider is already offering very competitive rates, it may be that not many companies will be able to match this. However, you should shop around every 12 months or so to see if you could get a better price.
If you have found another provider offering energy for less, you may be able to ring your current supplier and see if they can give you a deal. It’s likely that they won’t want to lose you as a customer and they could be able to offer you an additional discount to convince you to stay with them.
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