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We’ve probably all heard by now that switching your energy supplier is a good idea, but why? What do you stand to gain by switching your current gas and electricity tariff: surely they’re all the same? Maybe you think that it’s too much hassle? If it’s anything like phone companies or broadband, surely it’s way too much stress for such little reward. The truth is, it’s nothing like those two things. Switching your energy tariff is unbelievably easy and doesn’t take long at all. Also, unlike with your broadband and mobile phone deals, you stand to save much more money. Because your gas and electricity bills are most likely your biggest monthly expenditure, you stand to knock the most off the total amount. Here’s a little more detailed info:

How much will I save?

Now, this can vary a great deal. Savings are completely relative to your individual information and circumstances. One of the biggest factors is your postcode: due to charges incurred by local distribution networks, which are managed by private companies, some prices are cheaper than others depending on where you live. As such, you may find that Southern Electric  prices are cheaper in London than they are in Liverpool.

The other main factors here are how much energy are you currently using and how much are currently paying for it. The tariff that you are currently on will obviously play a large part in the comparison, so having this to hand can be rather helpful when carrying out your comparison.

How do I switch?

The most popular and effective way to switch your gas and electricity tariff(s) is currently by using a comparison engine. This allows you to get a full overview of the options that you have available to you before you jump into a long contract that isn’t the cheapest option. Using a comparison service will also take away 99% of the work: once you have chosen your desired tariff and supplied the sufficient basic information, they will do the rest, leaving you to chill out with the savings rolling in.

There are many comparison engines to choose from, namely businesses such as USwitch and Selectra. Using USwitch you can add your information online and choose your tariff in a few clicks, whereas through a five minute phone call with Selectra they can talk you through all your options and assure you of any doubts that you may have.

How long does the switch take?

Due to OFGEM regulations, the total switch length can take no longer than 21 days. The average switch time , however, takes no longer than 17 days, which, within that time, requires no effort from yourself. After your tariff has come into effect you will also have a 14 day ‘cooling off period’, which is your right as a consumer to change your mind about your purchase or service. This means that you will face no legal action or fees for cancelling or amending your subscription within this time.

What do I need?

You’ll probably be glad to know that switching your energy tariff in the United Kingdom is unbelievably simple. You aren’t really required to have anything more than your personal information, which if you don’t know, there’s a problem!

Here’s a list of the essentials and some additional information that can help you understand your savings and usage much better:

  • Address
  • Personal information (name, date of birth, etc.)
  • Bank details
  • Recent bills (optional)
  • Yearly kWh usage amount (optional)

How to choose the right tariff

It might seem like you should just choose the cheapest tariff and have done with it, but that isn’t always the right choice to make. There are a couple of things that you need to watch out for when choosing your new energy tariff.

An important factor to be aware of is whether the tariff is fixed or variable. This refers to the price per unit of gas or electricity that you are buying. If it is variable, your price per unit rate (which is multiplied by your usage) will rise and fall with the price of wholesale markets and generation efficiency. It does have the possibility to fall, but the more likely scenario is that it will rise. On the up side, you will have no set contract, leaving you free to chip and change whenever you want. If your tariff is fixed, you will have one unit rate that is freezed for the duration of your contract. This is generally the cheaper option and protects you against rises. You do need to bear in mind, however, that if you cancel your contract early, you may be subject to exit fees.

You should also consider switching to a renewable energy tariff. With the current energy crisis approaching thick and fast, we need to start thinking about the sustainability of our planet. As such, removing your usage amount from the fossil fuel demand can really help support the generation of gas and electricity through renewable sources.


Andy McGowan
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