Helping residents of Stafford Borough to reduce their fuel bills and the health risks of living in a cold home
Warmer Homes Stafford is a partnership between
Marches Energy Agency and Stafford Borough Council
Most people switch either by;
1) Using an internet comparison / switching website.
2) Contacting the supplier they wish to switch to.
Using Comparison Sites
There are a number of comparison sites available on the internet that will help you search for the best deals for you. They work by comparing your current tariff to current available tariffs. It is important that you have correct information to hand (ideally your most recent bill) as amongst other things you will be asked what your current annual energy consumption is and what type of tariff you are currently on. Remember, the more information you can put in the more accurate the estimated savings will be. A number of websites are signed up to Ofgem’s Confidence Code, a code of practice that governs price comparison sites and ensures guidelines and key principles are followed. We recommend you use one of the sites registered with this charter.
Websites signed up to Ofgem’s Confidence Code as of Mar 2014 are;
For more information on Ofgem’s Confidence Code please visit their website here
Contacting Suppliers Directly
You may wish to contact a supplier directly, responding to a specific advertisement you may have seen or having spoken to a friend or family member who has a good deal with this supplier. You can contact most energy suppliers by telephone and discuss matters further with a customer service representative.
Remember: Before switching, it is usually worth contacting your current supplier to notify them that you are looking to switch. In some circumstances your current supplier will seek to move you on to the best tariff that they can offer you (they will not want to lose you as a customer). You can then compare your existing suppliers’ best offer with those that you find elsewhere. This will help ensure you don’t switch suppliers when your existing provider could in fact offer you a better deal.
When considering switching your tariff(s), make sure you follow the tips below;
•How much energy do you use?
Have an idea of how much energy you currently use in order to make sure the comparison you make is accurate. You can find out this information by looking at your most recent energy bill. You can also contact your energy supplier and request an annual statement through the post. The best figure to use is your annual kWh consumption, this should be on your most recent bill, otherwise your current supplier should be able to give you this figure.
•You will need to provide your postcode and name of current tariff.
This will allow suppliers or comparison sites to assess your supply area (that is who and what can be supplied in your region). You will also be asked to provide the name of your current tariff. Again this will make sure that the comparison matches potential tariffs against your current arrangement correctly.
•How do you currently pay?
How you pay is of importance. For example, if you currently use a pre-payment meter then you can only apply for a pre-payment tariff. Remember, paying by direct debit is usually the most cost-effective method (but may not be suitable for everyone). It can sometimes be cheaper if you arrange to manage your bills online.
•Check for any extra or hidden charges?
Some suppliers may add a standing charge to your bill (this is the cost of supplying an electricity or fuel supply to your home). This should be made clear within the tariff. Where a standing charge is not included you may be asked to pay a higher unit price for a set number of units before receiving a lower unit price thereafter.
•Which Tariff suits you most?
You should be given a choice between a variable or fixed tariffs. On a variable tariff your bills could go up or down in line with energy prices. Late last year when all the major 6 suppliers announced energy bill rises, those on variable tariffs would have noticed a change on their bill.
If you're on a fixed rate tariff, your price per unit for gas and electricity is locked down for a set period. This can be a good way to defend yourself against price hikes, but it could leave you paying more if there were significant price cuts or you may pay more in the short-term.
•Check for penalty charges
Make sure you check to see whether your current tariff has penalty charges for leaving. This is particularly common on fixed tariffs and you may be required to pay a fee for leaving a tariff. Check with your supplier.
Energy Switching FAQ’s
How often can I switch?
If you are not on a fixed tariff you are free to switch as much as you like.
Can everyone save by switching?
Some people may already be on the best and or most suitable tariff for them, and so they may not benefit from switching.
Can I get Gas and Electricity from one supplier?
Yes, in some cases you will earn a Dual Fuel discount for doing so.
Will my supply be disrupted?
No. There will be no disruption to your energy supply and no physical work will be involved.
How long does it take to switch?
From the date you apply, a switch takes between 4 and 6 weeks. The government is working to halve this.
What is Economy 7?
Economy 7 is a tariff that includes a day and a night rate. For a seven-hour period overnight you pay a lower rate for your electricity. Economy 7 is most suitable for use with overnight storage heaters. Switching to an Economy 7 tariff will require you to change meter, which you may be required to pay for.
Can I change my mind?
Yes. There should be a cooling off period of between 7-14 days (varies depending on suppliers). During this period you can change your mind without incurring a penalty. You can ask what the cooling off period is when discussing matters with your potential new supplier. If using a comparison site, details on cooling off periods should be listed on their website.
Do I need to tell my supplier I’m leaving?
No, your new supplier will contact your old supplier and inform them that you have switched.
Can I switch if I receive a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT)?
Yes. The six major energy suppliers are obliged to pay a feed-in-tariff if you generate electricity in your home (e.g. via solar panels). You do not need the same supplier as your electricity and or gas to receive this Feed-in-Tariff and will continue to receive this following a switch in supplier. Whoever currently pays your FIT will continue to do so.
I rent my property, can I switch?
The only person that can switch is the one listed on the energy bills for the property. If you pay your Landlord for electricity and or gas, you would have to ask them to switch (as they will be named on the bills). However, if the supply is in your name and you pay suppliers directly, you can switch. You should remember to check your rental agreement before switching.
What could prevent me from switching?
You may rent your home and not be responsible for paying the bills directly or your rent or lease agreement may prohibit changes with utility supply. If you have outstanding debt to your current supplier, your switch may well be delayed. Customers with a Green Deal Plan will be unable to switch to smaller suppliers at the present time, as some smaller suppliers may be unable to retrieve Green Deal repayments.
When will my new supplier contact me?
Usually within 7-14 days after you switch. If you don’t hear from them in this period you can contact them directly.
What if I switch and then my supplier changes prices?
Ofgem states that suppliers must notify customers of forthcoming price changes at least 4 weeks before the changes occur. However, if you switch to a variable tariff and the prices are then changed, the new prices will be reflected on your bill. This will not happen if you choose to switch to a fixed tariff in which you receive a price ‘locked in’ for the duration of your deal.