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Saving money and increasing income

Saving money: Can I switch energy suppliers?

Utility bills, such as gas and electricity, can be expensive, but they can’t be avoided or ignored. A good way of keeping them low is to regularly check that you’re getting the best deal from your energy suppliers.

Switching utilities is a useful budgeting technique. There are many price comparison websites that can help you switch providers, and we'd recommend using one that has the Ofgem Confidence Code. Sites that show this logo offer ‘whole of market’ comparisons, so you can be confident you’re being offered unbiased and impartial comparisons.

Due to the high cost of energy, it may not be practical for you to switch suppliers – you may be on the best deal available.

Is switching energy provider right for me?

People save money every year by shopping around for the best energy prices but there are a few things you should think about before you switch.

Are you on a fixed term contract?

Most suppliers charge an exit fee if you leave a fixed term contract early. If you have to pay an exit fee, make sure it’s less than the amount you’re going to save when you switch.

An Ofgem Confidence Code accredited price comparison site can tell you if you're better off leaving your current supplier even if you have to pay the exit fee.

Are you living in a rented property?

Some tenancy agreements state that you can’t change utility supplier. However, this is an unfair contract term that can’t be enforced. Your landlord or letting agent can’t stop you from changing supplier.

Your landlord also can't take money from your deposit if you change suppliers, except for small administrative costs to change the supplier back. These costs must be agreed beforehand and shown in the tenancy agreement.

These rules only apply when switching energy providers, but your deposit could be affected if you've changed from a normal meter to a prepayment meter without permission.

Do you have a prepayment meter?

If you've got a prepayment meter you can still switch energy suppliers and transfer debts of up to £500. You’ll have to carry on using the prepayment meter with your new supplier until any arrears are paid off.

Can you get a better deal from your current gas or electricity supplier?

Most companies offer a discount for paying by direct debit, if that can work for you.

Or, if you get your gas and electricity from different suppliers, if one of them offers a dual-fuel discount you could think about switching to them. Contact your supplier to see if that’s available to you.

Can I switch energy supplier if I have arrears?

If you’re in debt to your gas or electricity provider you can still switch to a different provider, except when:

  • you have arrears of more than £500 still outstanding on a prepayment meter
  • you have arrears that have been outstanding for over 28 days on a normal meter

There are some exceptions to these rules, for example, situations where your arrears were the fault of the supplier. Check with your supplier to find out more.

Utility switching in Northern Ireland

Energy comparison sites in the UK won't work if you live in Northern Ireland.

To compare electricity and gas tariffs you'll need to visit the Consumer Council website.

Other ways to save money on electric and gas bills

Apply for Government help with winter gas and electricity bills

You may be eligible to receive support from the Government with your winter gas and electricity bills if you're claiming certain benefits or you're on a low income. 

There are several schemes available offering up to £300 towards your winter heating from September through to March.

Read our guide to dealing with gas and electricity bills to find out how to deal with arrears and lower your bills.

I don't know how to manage my budget! What can I do? 

If you’re struggling to manage your budget we offer free debt advice and a personal action plan to help you get your finances back on track.