Switching energy suppliers to find a new deal on utilities is a common practice in many households in the UK. But with energy prices constantly changing, and new energy deals available, the question many are asking is: how often should we be trying to switch?
Why switch energy suppliers?
Energy prices are constantly changing based on factors such as availability and the state of the economy. This means the price you pay for gas and electric when you first sign onto a tariff will eventually either go up or go down.
Energy also has different costs depending on the region it’s generated in. This depends on how much energy they are able to generate in addition to the cost of getting certain materials there. For example, Scotland has access to more oil, so electricity can generally be generated more cheaply.
Individual suppliers will buy and sell different amounts of energy in different regions, so they will all charge different amounts for energy. On top of this they will want to price competitively to get more customers.
Therefore, even if your energy bills are cheap now, it’s almost certain that another supplier will have a better deal at some point. So, switching suppliers can end up saving you a lot of money on your bills.
Now we’ve established why switching is useful, it’s helpful to know how easy it is to do.
How often can you switch suppliers?
How often you can switch energy suppliers will depend on your contract.
A standard energy contract will usually lock you in to a supplier for 12-24 months, but it could be shorter or longer term. While you have agreed to use this supplier for the contracted term this does not mean you can’t decide to switch, during your contract However, you will most likely have to pay a penalty fee for leaving before you term is completed. This penalty can vary wildly so check your contract to see what it would be for you.
Be aware that typically there is a 28-day period before you are allowed to switch out of your contract, regardless of the charge. However, there is also often a span of a few weeks at the beginning of a contract where you can cancel or switch with no penalty. This flexible period is generally around 14 days, after which the 28 days where you can’t switch begins.
So, how often you can switch depends on where you are in your contract, and how much the saving will balance out any penalty charges you incur. You can theoretically switch suppliers every month if you wanted to.
But what is the ideal time to wait before switching?
How often should you aim to switch?
Most energy advice recommends that you look to switch energy suppliers once a year. A study by Which
found that this would save you the most as opposed to switching every 2 years or every 3-6 months.
Switching once a year means you can lock yourself into the standard 12 month, fixed rate contract, then switch to a new supplier when the contract ends. This way you know what you’ll be paying for the whole year, and you don’t have to constantly be looking into new energy deals.
Remember though that if you are particularly struggling with your energy prices, or you want to be savvier about the market, you can switch whenever you like. This is simply the recommended and more reliably cost-effective approach to take.
Things to consider when switching.
While saving money is the main reason for switching to a new energy supplier, it’s not the only thing to think about when choosing to go to a new supplier.
When choosing someone new it is also important to consider what kind of tariffs they offer as well as any bundles they have that could save you money on other services, or extra perks for using them. Some suppliers are also more eco-friendly or use different technologies than their competitors.
Find out more about how to choose utility providers for your new home
If you are ready to switch suppliers, you can compare providers with the existing suppliers to your property using The Energy Shop's handy energy comparison tool