Switching energy suppliers can seem quite daunting given the number and types of tariffs now available to business customers. Learn all you need to know to confidently make that switch.
Why Should You Switch Energy Suppliers?
There are lots of reasons why you should switch energy suppliers, these include:
- You have never switched suppliers before and you could be getting a better deal
- You have reached the end of your fixed term tariff and will be put on a standard tariff with higher rates
- You are on a standard or deemed tariff (this is the tariff you are put on when you first move into a property)
- You are receiving poor customer service from your energy supplier
- Your energy tariff rates are high, or you would prefer a different tariff structure
- You want a smart meter and your energy supplier is not currently offering them
- You are moving premises or acquiring additional premises and you could benefit from seeing if there are any better or more suitable tariffs available
Switching energy suppliers can seem like a lot of hassle but the financial benefits can outweigh any inconvenience and switching is very simple these days.
How Do You Find a Better Deal?
When you are looking for a new energy supplier one of the easiest ways to find the best-priced energy deals is to use a price comparison site. There are several business price comparison sites and Power Compare has one that is powered by Love Energy Savings which allows you to compare energy tariffs from a wide range of suppliers.
Larger businesses who want more bespoke energy plans or want to have more flexible purchasing options will need to contact the energy suppliers direct to get a tailored quote.
As a business user, you will be expected to know what your energy consumption is, so you will need to get these figures to use the price comparison tool. Using actual usage figures will give you the most accurate results. In some cases, you may need to know your meter reference numbers (MPAN or MPRN).
It is also worth knowing that you will probably be offered better deals if you pay for your energy by direct debit and you manage your account online as this reduces the overheads for the energy supplier as well as making regular payments which makes you a more desirable customer. This may also make managing your energy simpler.
Once you have the results of your price comparison you should do some research to see what others have to say about the energy supplier and find out a bit more about them.
At Power Compare we have done the legwork for you and have compiled all the information about the UK energy suppliers who offer business energy including their background, customer reviews, complaint data, who their tariffs are most suited to, and what they offer.
What Should You Look for When Switching to a New Supplier?
When you are looking for a new energy supplier you should look for the following:
- Tariff rates, tariff type (fixed, variable, market tracker, etc), and contract length
- Payment type – monthly direct debit, variable direct debit, or payment on receipt of a bill
- Account management – online management and how sophisticated the system is for your needs
- Exit fees
- Discounts for dual fuel, online account management, paperless billing, direct debit payment
- Dedicated account manager
- Meters that they support such as half-hourly consumption and AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) meters
- Ability to manage multiple sites if needed
- Ability to manage larger businesses if needed
- Whether they are installing smart meters
- Electricity fuel mix and whether they offer renewable energy as standard as part of their tariffs or charge extra
- Their background and experience
- Customer reviews
- Other services that they offer that might interest you
- Any news stories about them
This may seem like a lot of research, but Power Compare has pulled all this information together for each of the UK energy suppliers, so you just need to look in one place to find all the information you need. Exploring our reviews will give you confidence that you are selecting the right energy supplier and may save you some problems in the future.
The Tariff Types Available
There are a range of different tariff types available, especially for larger businesses:
- Fixed rate tariffs which will stay the same throughout the contract period
- Variable rate tariffs which fluctuate with the energy market prices
- Deemed tariff which is the tariff businesses are put on when they first move into a property, these rates tend to be very high
- Market tracker rates which clearly tracks against the energy wholesale prices
- Flexible buying tariffs that allow you to purchase energy how you want to with a range of buying options, multi/bulk purchase or market trigger options to purchase when market conditions suit you
- Deals that allow you to access the wholesale energy market. Some suppliers offer a low risk and minimal involvement through to options that allow you greater control but require more expertise to manage it yourself
Smaller businesses will normally only be offered the first three tariff types above, the rest are tariffs that are more bespoke for larger businesses and may require more involvement of the business and expertise to purchase its energy.
Smaller businesses should consider if they want to have the security of a fixed price tariff that stays the same for the length of the contract and whether the contract length suits you.
Standard or variable tariffs tend to have much higher rates, but they offer more flexibility if you want to switch again soon or are planning on moving premises.
What Does Switching Suppliers Entail?
Once you have found the energy supplier that you want to switch to all you need to do is complete the switch with them. If you use a price comparison site, you can switch suppliers by selecting the tariff and completing the additional details.
Larger businesses may need to contact the energy suppliers to get a bespoke quote and you will need to contact the sales team for the chosen supplier to complete the switch for you.
After completing all your details with the new energy supplier, they will complete the switch for you including contacting your existing supplier and finalising your supply with them. The transition between the two energy suppliers should be seamless and you should not even notice the switchover. The only thing you will need to do during the switch is to provide the meter readings a few days before the switch takes place.
Once the switch is completed you will need to pay your final bill from your previous supplier which they will send to you based on the meter readings you gave your new supplier.
Switching suppliers usually takes up to 21 days but it averages at 17 days.
Can I Get a Better Deal and Not Switch Suppliers?
If you are happy with your energy supplier or you really do not want to go through the switching process, then you can challenge your energy supplier to give you a better deal. Your current supplier will be able to look at what your energy usage is and may be able to offer you a better deal.
Some deals offer better rates if you manage your account online and pay by direct debit, so it is worth considering these options if you can.
Can I Switch Suppliers If I am Still in a Contractual Period?
Yes, you can switch energy suppliers even though you are on a contract. You will need to check your contract, but you may need to give them notice before you can leave, and you may incur an exit fee.
Can I Switch Supplies If I am In Debt?
If you are in debt with your energy supplier, you will need to repay the debt before you are able to switch energy suppliers.
Can I Switch Suppliers If I Have a Smart Meter?
Yes, you can switch if you have have a smart meter installed. However, your new energy supplier may not be able to receive messages digitally from your meter and they would operate it as a standard meter until their systems are ready and compatible with your meter. In these circumstances, you would need to provide regular meter readings.
Your choice of suppliers may depend on the model of your smart meter (that is, a first or second generation model) and whether or not your smart meter is compatible with other energy suppliers’ systems.
Most energy suppliers have configured their systems to communicate with the second-generation smart meters so if you have a first-generation meter then it will need to be exchanged in the future. This should not prevent you from switching suppliers, but it may be operated as a standard meter.
The government has tasked the energy suppliers to replace all meters with smart meters by 2020. All energy suppliers are gearing up to switching to smart meters but not all of them are installing meters yet either because they do not have the systems ready to communicate with the smart meters, or they do not have the infrastructure in place to install the smart meters in their customers’ properties.
What Can I Do If My Energy Supplier Will Not Let Me Switch Suppliers?
An energy supplier should not prevent you from switching unless you are in debt. If you are in debt you will need to repay the debt before you can switch.
Can You Change Your Mind Once the Switch Has Started?
You can cancel the switch to a new energy supplier, but you may be subject to a cancellation fee. You will need to check your contract to see if this applies and what the charge is.
What is the Energy Switch Guarantee?
The Energy Switch Guarantee is a voluntary commitment that promises customers a speedy and safe switch between energy suppliers. Not all energy suppliers have signed up for the Energy Switch Guarantee, you can find out which suppliers have committed to it on the Energy Switch Guarantee website.