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Step-by-step guide to the energy switching process

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If you aren't a serial energy switcher, the process of changing who supplies you with your gas and electricity can be daunting. So we’ve detailed exactly what you should expect to happen when you decide to switch to a new supplier.

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Before we go any further though, we’d like to make one thing absolutely clear: when you switch supplier, there will be no break in service.

So don’t expect to come home to a freezing home with no power one day – that simply will not happen.

And don’t expect any workmen to pop round the house either – your gas and electricity will still come from the same pipes and wires that they always did. The only thing you will notice change will be your bill.

I’ve just signed up for a new supplier - what happens next? 

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After committing to switch, first of all you’ll be sent an email by the Confused.com team.

This will confirm which supplier you have chosen to switch to, and give their contact details and opening hours and so on.

You will also be informed of your cooling-off period. During this time you can change your mind about your commitment without any fear of repercussion.

The minimum cooling-off period you are entitled to by law is 7 working days, but some suppliers offer up to 14.

After we’ve contacted you, we pass your request to switch onto the new supplier. They should then contact you within 7-14 working days to thank you and remind you of the cooling-off period.

They will usually contact you by phone. The reason for this is that they are making absolutely sure that you want to switch – essentially as a safeguard against fraud.

If they can’t get hold of you on the phone, they’ll send you a letter. If you’ve not waved your arms and shouted “STOP!” at any point during the cooling-off period, then you’ll enter into the transfer process.

During the transfer process, the supplier may contact you if they have a query about your details.

For example, if you’ve supplied an incorrect gas meter number, they might get in touch in order to sort it out. This only happens in about 2% of cases, so it’s pretty unlikely – but it still might happen.

Your welcome letter

Next, you’ll be entered into the new supplier’s system.

Typically by about day five you’ll get a welcome letter, which confirms the switch is all going ahead as planned.

They will be confirming your payment method, which will be what you entered when originally filling in the form on Confused.com.

This letter will also include the anticipated supply start date. Furthermore, your new supplier will let you know whether they want you to send a meter reading.

This is required to open an account with the new supplier, and close your account with the old one.

If they request a reading, they’ll ask you to read your meters as close to the start date as possible – but will allow two days either way for your gas, and five days either way for your electricity.

So the only action that a customer needs to take is supply a reading, if that.

There is just as good a chance that the new supplier will send someone over to take their own reading, in which case all you have to actually do is sweet nothing!

‘Are you sure you want to leave?’

At this stage, you may well get a call from your old supplier.

According to industry guidelines, this should be no more than a comfort call, and not an attempt to win back your custom. In reality, that’s not a guarantee that you won’t be offered some kind of sweetener.

However, if your old supplier simply cannot offer you as good a deal as your new one, then you should feel absolutely no guilt in cutting them loose.

Alternatively, if you’re offered a better deal but you’re still not sure if it’s the best for you, you can still use Confused.com to see how it compares. We compare a range of tariffs on the market, so you can make an informed decision with confidence.

Objections

It’s worth noting that your old supplier does have the opportunity to object to the transfer at this stage.However, they can only do so if you have a billed debt that is greater than 28 days old.

It’s worth knowing your rights, as some suppliers have been known to object to the transfer without this requirement having been met.

This is very naughty – they are not allowed to do this! If there is an objection, and you do not have an unpaid bill over 28 days old, then you can ask your new supplier to have the objection withdrawn.

If you are actually in debt with your old supplier, then you will be sent a letter which will ask you to confirm when and how you’re going to pay.

This happens in approximately 10% of cases. If you don’t pay up what you owe then – to put it bluntly – you’re going nowhere.

This aside, most people do pay their outstanding debt, won’t get a huge final bill, and will save money ultimately if they go ahead with the switch.

After the transfer – your old supplier

Assuming everything goes to plan, the transfer will be made, and within four weeks you’ll get your final bill from the previous supplier.

If you were paying by Direct Debit, then this will just continue to run until the balance has been paid off.

It’s worth checking your final bill and meter reading, just in case you’ve been overbilled.

If you have, then you can ask for this difference to be refunded. More often than not, you’ll get the refund in the form of a cheque.

This is not unusual, even if you were paying by Direct Debit.

After the transfer – your new supplier

If you have chosen a Direct Debit tariff, then you will have already entered your details on our site at the beginning.

You will be sent a letter confirming these details, i.e. what and when you’re going to pay.

Although bills tend to be sent every 13 weeks (roughly quarterly),your first bill may well come sooner.

The supplier does this to get you into their regular billing cycle.

Basically the postie receives all of the customers’ bills in order at the same time, so the seemingly irregular first couple of bills are to get you into step with this routine.

If your bills are estimated then the supplier will at some point review your consumption, and they’ll contact you if they require an adjustment.

Typically customers have an annual review, because it’s difficult for both you and your supplier to second-guess how much electricity or gas you’re likely to use.

No break in service

It’s important to remember that – throughout all this – you will not notice any breaks in service.

So don’t worry about not being able to heat your house or cook your dinner!

Essentially the only difference you should notice is who you get your bills from, and how much they’re for.

And if you’re presented with a bill for significantly less than what you used to be charged, then you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done the right thing!

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