Millions of households across the UK are overpaying on their energy bills each year, amounting to a collective £18.7 billion in overpayment. This is due to a variety of lackluster excuses, such as “it takes too long” or “it’s too much hassle”, both of which are completely incorrect. That is not to say, however, that this situation has not improved; 10 years ago the number of overpaying customers was much higher. The task on all of our shoulders is to make the millions of customers nationwide realise that they are throwing hundreds of pounds, essentially down the drain, each year. Here’s how and why you should be switching.

Why should I switch?

The number one reason here is to save money, but it goes a little deeper than that. Prices are changing all the time, mostly in the upwards direction. This not only applies to gas and electricity, but on pretty much all of our essential items. Luckily, in the gas and electricity game, there is a way of postponing and keeping the rises at bay: the price fix. This is not the fictitious price fixes that big energy corporations claim to enforce and then go back on their word 6 months later. This is a type of energy deal in which your unit rate per kWh of energy is fixed for an agreed amount of time, usually one or two years, in which time, your tariff price will be unchangeable. That is not to say that you can’t cancel the contract, because you can, it’s just you may be subject to a small exit fee around £40 per fuel.

In terms of the actual money that you’re likely to save, there is no absolute figure that can be applied to any more than one person. Each individual switching circumstance is different, meaning you could save anything from £500 per year to £20. This all depends on your usage, your location, your current tariff, your meter and payment type and many other variables.

Getting started

Great! You’ve made the decision to switch to a cheaper energy tariff and save yourself a tonne of cash, but how do you do it? The most popular and well rounded method of switching your energy tariff is by using a comparison tool such as Selectra or Go Compare. These services show you the cheapest offers available to you in an easy to understand format, benchmarking your current tariff to see how much you’ll save in comparison.

Using a comparison service, instead of going directly to a provider, will give you a less biased overview of your situation and will allow you to see a number of tariffs from a wider selection of suppliers, allowing you a more informed decision.

What do I need?

You probably need a lot less than you think in order to switch your energy tariff. People seem to have the idea that you need a mountain of information, past bills, codes and numbers, a gold doubloon and god knows what else, but in reality, the list is very simple. Here it is:

  • Address
  • Personal information (name, date of birth etc.)
  • Bank details (to set up direct debit)

Additional information such as your current usage and current tariff is useful for your comparison, but not essential. The reason for your address is twofold. With your address they can locate all the information about your supply without you needing to provide anything else at a later date. It also matters because prices vary depending on where you are in Great Britain. This is due to static charges in place that are charged to the supplier for distribution and other such things. As such, you may find that SSE prices in Northern Scotland are more expensive than in London, for example.

How long does it take?

The exact date that your switch will become finalised will be communicated to you a few days after you have given all of your information to the comparison service. Due to OFGEM regulations, the switching process can now take no longer than 21 days, with an additional 14 day ‘cooling off period’, which is the period in which you are legally obligated to change your mind about your purchase with no financial or legal repercussions. The average time taken to finalise the switch is around 17 days and don’t worry, there is no break in supply.

Summary checklist

So, you’re just about ready to make the switch. Here’s a final checklist of things you need to do:

  • Use a comparison engine to compare all prices
  • Find the cheapest tariff
  • Continue online/over the phone by providing your personal and bank details
  • Wait 17-21 days for the switch to finalise
  • See the savings roll in!