Are renters scared to switch gas and electricity?

Half of under-35s have never switched gas and electric supplier.

woman dealing with bills on her mobile

The initial UK lockdown period (March-June 2020) saw Brits spending more time at home. And this meant higher energy costs.

The average monthly energy bill increased by £36 during lockdown - a 57% increase**.

With costs like that, it makes sense to try all you can to keep your bills low. Cutting your energy use is one thing, but there's more that can be done.

We surveyed 2,000 energy customers and found that more than half of bill payers aged 34 or younger have never switched their energy provider.

This is despite the fact that they could save hundreds of pounds on their bills. With so many young people in precarious employment, short-term accommodation, and university debt, why aren’t they interested?

Why aren’t the under-35s switching?

More than a third of non-switchers thought they wouldn’t save money or hadn’t ever needed to switch.

If you’ve never switched, you’ll likely be on your provider’s standard tariff. This is usually their most expensive, although the energy price cap does put a maximum price on it.

37% of 18-34-year-olds told us they would switch to save £100 or less a year and 14% would switch to save just £50 or less.

If you're on a standard tariff you can save much more than £100 a year by switching.

In fact, Ofgem reckons you could save as much as £305 a year by switching if you’re on your supplier’s standard tariff.

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Get switch ready

There are obviously other factors that come into play.

Younger people are likely to have less financial security, and statistically this age group are far less likely to own their own home. This means the majority are likely to be renting.

If you’re renting, you might not have full control over many things, including your energy.

Here are some common energy issues renters face, and some ideas on how you can save money.

Switching energy when renting

When you live in rented accommodation, there are a few different ways you might pay for your energy:

  • The property has a prepayment meter that you top up using a card, cash or online
  • Standard meter – the tenant is responsible for bills
  • The landlord pays the bills and the cost is included in rent (usually a flat rate)
  • The landlord’s name is on the bills but the tenant is responsible for paying.

If your name is on the bill, then you have the right to decide what provider you use – it’s your contract with them.

Do check your rental agreement for any clauses that tie you to a provider before doing this – but if it’s a standard rental agreement you should be fine.

Even if the landlord pays the bills you should ensure you get a breakdown of costs. Then you could suggest they move to a cheaper supplier – saving everyone money!

Payment and meter issues

More than 20% of 18-34-year-olds pay their bills by something other than direct debit. This can sometimes stop them from getting the cheapest tariffs on the market.

Sometimes there’s a requirement to get a smart meter fitted. This can also be an issue for renters – as it invariably means a conversation with the landlord.

READ MORE: How to pay your energy bill

Prepayment meters

Prepayment meters are common in rented accommodation. Many people on prepayment meters believe they cannot switch tariffs, or that there are no tariff options available. Sometimes they believe they can’t switch because they are in debt to their current provider.

This is untrue.

If you’re on a prepayment meter, are responsible for paying for it, and don’t have a debt higher than £500 each for gas and electricity, you can switch to a different prepayment tariff. This could save you quite a lot of money in the long run.

It’s just as easy to switch your prepayment tariff online – it takes less than 3 minutes to get a quote with

Save money on your gas and electricity

Many young people in rented accommodation are on low incomes or may be saving for their own house. This means it makes sense to reduce their gas and electricity bills if possible.

There’s also the sad reality that many rental properties in the UK are poorly insulated and badly maintained. This can significantly increase heating costs and energy usage.

And if you can save as much as £305 for an average home, it makes even more sense to switch.

If you really can’t switch then there are energy efficiency tips you can try to help reduce your energy cost and increase your bank balance.

READ MORE: How standby mode increases your energy bill

So why don’t more young people switch supplier?

Unfortunately, it could be a failure in communication and education.

A significant number of 18-34-year-olds don’t switch because they find switching energy deals and providers confusing.

In fact, more 25-34-year-olds find this confusing than people over the age of 55.

More than half don’t think they need to, can’t save money or can’t be bothered.

And of those who do want to switch, many think they can’t because they’re renting, or have the wrong meter.

Max Green,’s Energy expert says:

“Most landlords are fine with you switching, all you need to do is give them notice, but if your name is on the bill you’re free to switch as you please. All you need to know is your current supplier or even just your address. It takes three minutes to find out how much you could save.”


* Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who are responsible for paying their household energy bill (nationally representative sample, 508 under-35s). The research was conducted between 24 and 26 March 2020.

** Figure taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults. The research was conducted between 21 and 26 May 2020.