How to make the switch to a cheap energy supplier and save money

Making the small move to a cheaper energy supplier could result in big savings

Figures from energy regulator Ofgem show that over a third (35 per cent) of households in the UK failed to switch gas or electricity provider between 2012 and 2017. But this energy inertia could be costing households. Government figures (opens in new tab) show that Brits could make savings of over £200 a year by making the switch.

Get to grips with your household finances with more of our property advice

We've been through this process ourselves, and it's surprisingly simple. PLUS the money we've saved has gone right back into the pot for all those decorating updates. What's not to love?

If you're ready to put more money in your pocket and get the best energy deal possible, read our complete guide on how to switch energy supplier.

How do I compare energy suppliers and costs?

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(Image credit: Future PLC / Philip Lauterbach)

There are number of steps to take get the cheap energy supplier deal that's right for you. We've put together the answers to some of the most important questions below.

What information will I need before I look at energy comparison prices?

Useful information to have to hand when you contact one of these firms is:

  • The name of the energy plan you're on with your current energy provider.
  • The average number of kilowatt hours (kWh) you've used for both your gas and electricity.

You may be able to find the latter on your latest statement or bill. If not, contact your provider to find out.

Which energy comparison site should I choose?

Comparethemarket, Moneysupermarket, Gocompare, and Uswitch are just some of the comparison sites who can help you switch to one of the many cheap energy deals available. We advise that you use all four of the sites, and more. Then compare prices between them to ensure you're getting the best deal.

Switching firms can take care of the entire switching process. That includes contacting both your existing and new provider. However, if you're comparing cheap energy deals on the above websites, there is an option to list only the energy providers that require you to complete the switching process yourself. You may find those suppliers offer the cheapest deals.

Who are the cheap energy companies?

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(Image credit: Future PLC / Fiona Walker-Arnott)

There are a number of independent energy companies on the market outside the Big Six (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE). The advantage of independents is that they won't automatically raise their prices when the Big Six do. Examples include First Utility, Octopus Energy, Cooperative Energy and Together Energy.

Check that these companies offer the tariff you want – customer service ratings may also help inform your decision.

What is a cheap energy club and how do I join?

Collective energy switching uses people power to negotiate the best energy deals for any given group. Households can sign up to sites such as the iChoosr, Big London Energy Switch, Community Energy Club (Cornwall only) or Essex Energy Switch for free.

Each month an auction takes place with the cheapest energy provider normally being awarded the contract. Site members will then be sent their personal energy offer and be given a set period of time to decide if they want to accept it or not.

What is auto switching and how is it different to standard comparison sites?

Auto-switching has become increasingly popular with consumers who struggle to keep abreast with constantly changing energy prices. Unlike standard comparison sites, you sign up once to an auto-switching website. They will automatically switch you to the cheapest energy deal as it becomes available. Examples of auto-switching sites include Flipper Community, We Flip, Look After My Bills, Migrate and Switchd.

What else do I need to consider when changing energy suppliers?

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(Image credit: Future PLC / Jeremy Lawrence)

Once you've found the cheap energy supplier you want to switch to, you'll also need to consider the eventualities below.

Feed-in Tariff: What is it and will it be affected?

If you have installed energy-generating technology such as solar photovoltaic panels (solar PV), wind, micro combined heat and power (CHP), hydro ananaerobic digestion (AD) – up to a capacity of 5MW (or 2kW for CHP) – you will be eligible for the Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme.

FIT payments are then made on a quarterly basis for the electricity you generate. Ofgem sets FIT rates, and if you switch energy provider, you don’t necessarily have to change the company you sell your excess electricity to.

However, you may want to check Ofgem's list of energy firms that support the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, (opens in new tab) to see if your potential new provider is on it. It's also important to note that the government laid legislation which closed the FIT scheme to new applicants as of 1 April 2019 – barring some exceptions.

What do I do if my cheap energy provider goes bust?

Ofgem has a safety net should an energy supplier go out of business, to ensure a continuous supply. We've actually experienced this first hand, and have come out the other side unscathed.

Ofgem will automatically move you to a new supplier ‘following a competitive process designed to get the best deal for you. You’ll be informed of the changes at every step, so there's no need to worry.

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You will be put onto a ‘deemed contract’ (one that hasn’t been chosen by you), but you are free to look for an alternative energy deal after you have been moved over. Or you can ask your new supplier if you can be moved onto their cheapest deal.

Any credit you have accumulated will transfer to the new supplier.