How to switch your energy provider

Energy prices are now at a three year low due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Switchers tariffs are lower than ever because of the crash in oil prices due to lack of worldwide demand.

Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis explained: “There’s lack of demand. With people staying at home and travelling less there’s been a global sump slump for oil.

“In fact, for a day last week, staggeringly the US oil price was negative – they couldn’t sell it, so instead they were having to pay to have barrels stored.

“And this low oil price feeds into switchers’ prices for gas and electricity too.

“They’re at their cheapest for about three years and not just small firms, but large big six companies also have the cheapest tariffs we’ve seen in years.

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“But it’s only switchers prices that are cheap, the price cap hasn’t moved and all the big six standard tariffs that most people are on are still costly.

“So, now’s the time for everyone to check their energy tariff and take advantage of historically low oil prices.”

Martin advised switching to a fixed rate tariff, to make sure the rate you pay is locked in.

A Fixed tariff makes sure the amount you pay per unit of gas or electricity is fixed for the term of your deal, often for one or two years.

Currently, the cheapest tariffs on the market are less than £800 a year.

He stressed the importance of being accurate and making sure you’ve found the best deal when switching, repeating “the sin of inaccuracy is bigger than the sin of inaction.”

There can be hidden charges when switching, so make sure you check for the following before making the switch:

Exit fees: some energy firms charge around £30 if you want to leave before the end of your contract. Exit fees only apply to fixed deals, and cannot be charged in the last 49 days of your tariff.

Fixed or variable: Fixed direct debit payments are the same each month, to balance out the cost of your energy during the year. Some companies have different fixed payments for different seasons as levels of energy used change.

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Smart meter: Some tariffs are only available to customers with smart meters, or if you agree to book an appointment to have one fitted, which can cost you.

Upfront payments: Some tariffs require one month’s payment before they start supplying your gas and electricity. Some prepayment deals require a security deposit, which can make the initial costs of switching higher than expected.

How do I switch?

Once you’ve found your deal, you will need to notify your current provider you are leaving, usually by phone.

The best way to switch your energy provider is through the Energy Switch Guarantee.

This will help you get a quicker switch, guaranteeing to take care of it within 21 days.

Companies signed up are: Breeze, British Gas, Bulb, EDF Energy, Engie, Enstroga, Eon, ESB Energy, Green Network Energy, M&S Energy, Npower, Octopus Energy, Pure Planet, Scottish Power, Shell Energy, So Energy, SSE and Yorkshire Energy.

They also guarantee to contact your old energy supplier to tell it you’re leaving, work with it to make sure you’re not charged twice, and take responsibility if there are any problems.

Once you have switched, they promise to send you a final bill within six weeks and refund you any money owed within 10 working days.

If you change your mind, you have 14 days to cancel from the date you agree to a contract.

You must contact the supplier to cancel any contract.

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