Renter Library

When you moved into your new pad, what did you do? Unpack a few boxes? Order a takeaway? Celebrate with a few drinks? or did you end up collapsed in a heap after the stresses and strains of moving? Bet you didn’t think about finding out who your new utility suppliers are?

In the excitement and chaos of moving it is easy to overlook small details such as utility bills and suppliers, but it's something well worth looking into, to make sure you’re not overpaying for the energy you are using. UK residents are thought to be losing up to £4bn a year through poor energy deals, with 40% of people thinking it is ‘too much hassle’ to change suppliers.

Below we outline our top tips for choosing and switching energy suppliers;

1. Check your Tenancy Agreement 

Firstly, check your tenancy agreement to figure out what bills you’re responsible for. If you’re your landlord pays the energy company directly and then charges you and you want to change supplier, you’ll need to ask your landlord to do it - but they don’t have to.

If you think that your landlord might be charging you too much for your energy, check out the guidance from the citizens advice bureau on what they're allowed to charge you for.

If you’re responsible for paying the energy bills, then you’re free to choose who you want. Your landlord may have a preferred supplier, but that shouldn’t stop you from switching.  It’s a good idea to keep your landlord or agent in the loop if you’re going to switch as they may ask you to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy.    

2. Get the ‘need to knows’ ready

Once you’ve decided to switch it’s really easy to do once you’ve got the following info to hand; 

  • Your postcode
  • The name of the current supplier
  • The name of the energy offer you are currently on and how much you spend on gas and electricity. You can find this information on a recent bill.
  • An up-to-date meter reading
  • Your bank details if you will be paying by direct debit
  • Your Meter Point Access Number (or ‘MPAN’) and Meter Point Reference Number (or ‘MPRN’). You can find these on a recent bill.

3. Get the quotes in - Don’t just look at comparison sites

 Armed with the ‘need to knows’ you’re ready to get the quotes in. Of course money comparison sites are great when it comes to market prices but don’t rely solely on them. The Guardian explains that they do not scour the entire market, so don’t rely on them for the absolute best price and make sure you shop around! 

4. Things to check before you switch 

Once you’ve got your results in then you need to make sure you take your time and assess all the deals on offer. Changing utility suppliers can save you a lot of money, but don’t rush straight into the first deal you see. Always read the finer details to know what you’re signing up for, check to see if there’s an upfront payment required as this could make the overall cost of moving more - so do the maths! And don’t forget to look at the exit fees as some firms charge up to £50 if you want to leave early.

5. Time to switch 

Different suppliers will give you different times on how long it will take to switch. But according to Ofgem, the energy regulator, the average switching time for gas is 18 days.(Data is from January 2014 and September 2020) And the average switching time for electricity is between 15 and 17 days

So you see it’s really not that hard to switch and save on your energy bills. With a little time and effort you can make some great savings. Especially if you become a serial switcher and switch every time your energy contract comes to an end.     

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