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Should I switch energy supplier when moving house?

By Luke Albiges
Wednesday, February 14th 2018

Throwing everything you own into the back of a truck and hoping it all reaches your new home in one piece is already stressful enough, we know. But it's always worth considering switching to a new energy provider for your new home – it could save you a lot of money, after all.

If you are on a fixed rate and still mid-contract, you will have to take your current supplier with you - you'll be penalised if you cancel. However, if you aren't in a contract, you are free to switch and get a better deal for your money in your new place. Here's all you need to know.

What to do before you move

The first step is to make sure the vacated premises and its current energy supplier are left in good standing. Contact the provider at least a couple of days before your move date with your new address and move date. Don't worry about meter readings at this point, as that can wait until you're about to lock your old front door for the very last time.

When you have the final meter readings, make a note of them for your own records and pass the info on to the supplier. It's also good form to let the new occupants know who the current providers are, either by leaving a note or by telling estate agencies.

Your final bill for energy at the old place should arrive shortly after you move, and may be more or less than you expect if you've been using estimated billing (smart meters and/or regular meter readings can mitigate this element of surprise).

What happens to your energy supply when you move?

Assuming you followed the straightforward steps above, the process of closing an account for a property should typically be extremely simple – supply the final reading, pay the final balance, and move on. At your new place, things can be a little more complicated, especially if you're considering switching energy suppliers.

First, establish who the current suppliers are. Hopefully the former residents will have left that information for you, but if not, you can find out. For gas services, contact the Meter Point Administration Service on 0870 608 1524 or visit the National Grid website . For electricity, you'll need to contact your regional operator so check the phone book or do a search online to find out which catchment area you fall into, then get in touch with them to determine your supplier.

With that knowledge, you'll need to contact the current suppliers to the property with meter readings accurate as of your moving-in date. Even if you're intending to switch – or just considering it – the providers will still need your details for any energy used in the interim period, as switching usually takes around two weeks or a little longer.

Stick to a standard tariff if you're thinking about switching supplier as fixed rate tariffs, while generally cheaper long-term, often come with exit fees for ending the contract early. That's something to discuss when you first make contact – the supplier may offer you a better deal if it knows you're leaving, so it doesn't hurt to make your intentions clear from the start.

Do you have to stay with the same supplier?

In some instances, it may not be possible to switch suppliers. Some rental properties are tied to a specific provider, for instance, while others may have prepayment meters installed and maintained by the owners that forego the need for switching, though that's still a discussion you can have with your new landlord if it feels like you're paying over the odds.

If you are able to make the change, though, now's the time to shop around. Chances are your household's energy usage will differ from that of the previous residents, so the existing provider or tariff may not be the best for you. Unless specifically stated by a landlord, building owner or similar figure, you're under no obligation to stick with the providers serving your new property, so it's entirely up to you whether you do or not.

Some may appreciate the convenience of remaining with the same provider. Others might prefer to return to a supplier that has previously offered great service, or a new one that can save them a few quid. Everyone's situations and requirements are different so it's impossible to answer the 'should I switch providers?' question with a simple 'yes' or 'no'.

As long as you're well-informed, you'll be able to make the call that's right for you. And as a little peace of mind, a new energy contract comes with a 14-day 'cooling off' period when it starts, meaning you're free to change your mind and revert to the previous supplier within two weeks if your chosen plan suddenly doesn't seem like such a good deal after all.

Why you should consider switching

There are all kinds of reasons to consider switching supplier beyond the matter of cost, so let's run down a few of the key factors that might sway your decision.

New/Unneeded services

While it's unlikely in this modern age that you're going to want to be without electricity in your home, many can get by just fine without gas. If the new property is running dual fuel and you don't need one of the services – or if it isn't and you need it to be – then you basically need to switch tariffs at the very least, if not entire suppliers, according to your circumstances.

Energy requirements

A family of four will most likely use a lot more energy than, say, a couple living in the same property, so it's often worth shopping around to see whether your consumption will make a difference to your overall costs. Usage data can be found on bills and while those from a previous address might give a rough idea, don't expect exact parity between the two properties.

Thermal rating (or other) changes

Similarly, any changes made to a property may alter how much energy is required, whether that be double glazing, insulation, solar panel installation or and similar cost-cutting measure. Make sure you're getting the best deal on your energy based on how much you need – there is no sense in paying over the odds if you barely need to put the heating on.

Shifting to renewable

Advances in green energy solutions are happening all around us, but every supplier is handling them in different ways. If you want an eco-friendly package, you'll need to do your research on all available options to see exactly what their definition of 'green' energy is, then make a decision based on that. Expect green energy options to be a little more expensive in general.

Long-distance moves

Local climate naturally plays a part in energy consumption, so you may need to factor that in when moving to somewhere that's generally cooler or warmer. Equally a change in lifestyle could have an impact on the tariff you choose.

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to contact the current supplier when switching?

No. When changing supplier at a property, the new supplier will contact the old one and handle the changeover on your behalf. All you need to do is make sure the new supplier has all the information they need to make this happen, including meter readings and switchover dates.

How long does it take to switch energy supplier?

The process typically takes a little over two weeks, which includes a 14-day cooling-off period in case you're not happy with the new supplier or plan and wish to revert back to the old one.

Can you change supplier if you have a prepayment meter?

Check with landlords or building owners first, but usually this shouldn't be a problem unless there's an existing debt with the current supplier. You may even be able to have the prepay meter replaced with a regular meter, which will typically work out quite a bit cheaper.

When can you switch suppliers?

If you're on a fixed rate plan, you'll need to wait until close to the end of your contract to switch or you may face exit fees. For rolling or standard tariffs, you should often be able to change at will – check with your current supplier if in any doubt, as each plan is a little different.

How often can you switch energy supplier?

In theory, there's no limit to how many times you can change your fuel provider. Any fixed term contract will typically involve termination fees, so keep these in mind if you plan to bounce frequently between the best available options.

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