When can’t you switch energy suppliers?Save more now
Switching energy suppliers can be a great way for you or your business to save money. However, there are some instances in which moving providers could actually cost you money, and others where making a switch is not actually permitted until certain aspects of your current contract have been satisfied.
Whether you are looking for a change of domestic or business energy supplier, this handy guide will give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about when you can and cannot switch energy suppliers, including some of the most common misconceptions.
Will I have to pay to switch energy suppliers?
Although it’s certainly true that switching suppliers after comparing different tariffs can save you money, there are a number of switching factors you should consider. For example, it’s worth remembering that if you have to pay a penalty exit fee to your existing supplier in order to make the switch, the saving you stand to make may not be worth it. This will all come down to what type of contract you currently have.
If you are on a standard variable tariff, then you are free to switch energy suppliers at any time without having to pay an exit or cancellation fee. However, if you are on a fixed-term contract, you are likely to incur an exit free if you wish to switch suppliers. Typically, when it comes to domestic energy, most suppliers offer customers fixed-term plans before moving them onto their standard variable tariff when the contract is set to expire. This move from a fixed to variable tariff usually sees your bills go up, but gives you the freedom to switch to a new supplier that may offer better rates.
Unlike domestic energy contracts, the fact that the vast majority of business energy contracts in the UK are fixed-term tariffs means that switching can be slightly more tricky. This is because rather than your current supplier moving your business onto a standard variable tariff at the end of your fixed-term contract, typically your existing contract will just renew automatically. This means if you do not keep an eye on the expiration date of your business’ energy contract, and/or fail to comply with the specific notice period procedure outlined, you could be locked into another fixed-term deal, often with increased rates. If this is the case and you are still looking to switch, a penalty exit fee will likely have to be paid to free you from your contract.
To switch business energy suppliers without having to pay a penny, you simply need to confirm the official end date of your current contract and ensure you send a termination letter before the agreed notice period outlined in your deal begins. Once your termination has been confirmed, you can then source a new energy supplier without having to pay for the switch.
Can I switch energy providers if I owe money?
While you don’t necessarily have to be in the black to be able to switch energy providers, your ability to switch depends chiefly on how much you actually owe your current supplier and how long you’ve owed the money for.
If you’ve owed your current domestic or business energy supplier money for more than 28 days (or are a month or more behind on your payments), you will not be able to switch providers until you have paid your current debt. This does not apply if it is your supplier who is at fault for your debt, however – for example, if they’ve provided incorrect estimates on your last bill. Nevertheless, an issue like this will have to be taken up with your supplier before you start the switching process.
If you have a prepayment meter and therefore pay in advance for your gas and electricity, you will not be able to switch energy suppliers if you owe more than £500 for gas or electricity. If you owe less than this amount, you can ask your new supplier to agree to transfer your debt along with your supply. This is called the ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’.
Can I switch energy supplier if I have solar panels?
Yes! It is a common misconception that if you have installed solar panels you are tied to your current energy supplier. This is simply not the case. Whether you’re a household or a business, if you find a better deal for your electricity and gas, switching can still be stress-free and quick.
While it’s true that in most domestic cases your current energy supplier also pays your Feed-in Tariff (the cash payment scheme formerly offered to households that produce their own electricity using renewable technologies), this subsidy is honoured by most energy suppliers and can therefore be transferred over should you decide to switch providers.
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We’re dedicated to helping businesses like yours save more on energy. That’s why we’ve put together a selection of case studies showcasing exactly what we have achieved for company’s similar to yours.
Thomson Hayes retail has been established for 30 years and specialises in the design and manufacture of high quality furniture, exhibition stands, museum and store fit outs.
Utility Bidder saves thousands of pounds on energy expenditure for Midlands business. Cable craft have been supplying cable identification, termination and management products throughout the world for over 20 years servicing a diverse range of industries.
Sharda Care are contacted frequently by companies within the energy industry, but the desire to work with UB Corporate was motivated by our bill validation service (and that they hadn’t checked their VAT). Our team have an experienced background in working with businesses of this size and will instinctively scrutinise all utilities to investigate potential savings.
Rob says that thanks to the competitive rates secured by Utility Bidder in his studio, it would actually be cheaper to live there than at home! “We pay about £30 a month for gas during the winter and around £25 a month for electricity – and that’s despite having a lot of energy guzzling equipment such as studio lights and fan heaters. Our energy bills at home are far more expensive!”