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Your Top Questions About Switching – Answered

Since you haven’t switched yet through the Telegraph Big Energy Switch, you might be missing out on loads of savings!

We thought perhaps you may have some questions that needed answering first – that’s ok, we’re here to help.

Here are the top questions we’re being asked:

1. Can I switch to tariffs that didn’t win the collective?

Yes, you can switch to any tariff from one of over 30 suppliers through the collective. There’s a huge choice.

2. What kind of savings should I expect to make?

The average overall savings so far = £277

These average values for a typical dual fuel bill should give you an idea.

1 Year fix winner from EDF = £865 a year (guaranteed no price rises for 1 year)

Cheapest tariff we can organise right now = £865

Average big supplier Standard Tariff Cost (after price rises) = £ 1,142

Average saving = £277

**Values above are per year, payment by monthly direct debit.**

3. What do I need to switch?

The best thing is a copy of a recent bill or an annual statement from your energy supplier that lists your kilowatt hours (your usage level) will give you the most accurate savings.

If you don’t have those, you can still switch online* provided you know your postcode, supplier and rough spend eg. your monthly direct debit amount.

And if you don’t know your usage or spend* – don’t despair, you can still save. You can use our simple estimator, to get an idea of your usage.

*Please note that your switch must be done online if you don’t have a recent bill or statement listing your kilowatt hours.

4. How long will switching take?

It normally takes a few minutes to get a quote, and about 10 minutes to do a simple switch application (If you’d prefer someone else to do the work just call us up).

Once everything is submitted, we’ll then confirm everything in writing by email or letter. From this point, you have a 14 day cooling off period dependent on the new supplier. Early in the switching process, you will get a welcome pack from your new supplier.

From submitting your switch application, it normally takes 3-4 weeks for the switch to go live.

5. I don’t know who my current supplier is – can I still switch?

While this isn’t ideal, you can still switch as the switch application is sent to the new supplier for processing who will then send it into an industry process that requests that your meter points move to them.

So, if you don’t know who your current supplier is, don’t worry. If you are in this position, you are likely to be on a standard tariff, two thirds of people are and all new movers are. Virtually everyone on these tariffs can save by switching.

6. I am on a fixed contract. Can I switch?

Yes – it’s just that you may have to pay a cancellation penalty for leaving though sometimes you don’t need to.

Switching is free if you’re already on an EDF tariff switching to the EDF collective tariff, or if you’re in the last 49 days of your fixed rate period or if there were no cancellation penalties listed on your initial contract.

Note: If you are on an SSE tariff moving to the SSE collective tariff, there will be a cancellation charge of £30/fuel.

Remember once your fix ends you will move to your supplier’s standard price unless you opt for a new deal from them or switch. Standard tariffs tend to be expensive.

7. I am seeing savings but when I go to switch the monthly direct debit is predicted to be higher than what I spend now. What is happening?

This often occurs when customers input kilowatt hours into the calculator and their direct debit is set too low to cover their current usage. So by switching your direct debit may rise; but if you don’t switch then soon your supplier is likely come to you and ask to put it up by even more.

During price rises it’s normal for lots of customers to have direct debit levels set too low as suppliers have often not got around yet to resetting them. They fear loss of customers if they do.

8. I am seeing negative savings, is this correct?

If you see these well done as you are probably on a really cheap tariff. But if this cheap tariff is ending soon you may want to switch. Switches normally take 3-4 weeks to go live so it’s normally best to switch about a month before the end of your fixed period.

The customers most likely to see negative savings are customers on cheap fixed tariffs without one consistent end date eg. if you are on a 1, 2 or 3 year fix which doesn’t end for everyone on it on a certain day like 31st March 2017.

In these circumstances, your current low price is pulled out across the year in advance by our calculator and used as the basis of the calculation. Remember that from your fixed end date unless you switch again you will move onto your supplier’s standard tariff and are likely to be hit by a big price rise. So, if you only have a few weeks left on your fix the negative saving may really be an illusion.

To see the price of your standard tariff once your fix has ended do a price comparison setting your current supply details to your supplier’s standard tariff and insert your kilowatt hour usage. This will give you an accurate prediction of your spend over the next year.

9. I’m in debt, can I still switch?

If the debt is 28 days old or less, you can switch. If it’s older than that you need to pay it off before you can switch. There is an exception – if the reason you are in debt is a billing error by your supplier then they can’t stop you switching.

If you are on a prepayment meter, rules are more relaxed. You can then switch with up to £500 debt on your electricity account and £500 debt on your gas account. You’ll need to ask your new supplier to transfer the debt as part of the switch process – this is called a ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’ and you can do this by asking them. Once you receive your welcome pack or welcome email from your new supplier contact them and ask them to do this.

10. Will there be any interruption to my supply?

No, none at all.

11. Do pipes, wires or meters need to be changed?

No, these don’t need to be changed.

12. Will my smart meter keep working?

If you have a smart meter it may stop working in a smart manner after you switch. It depends which type you have. But it will keep measuring how much gas and / or electricity you use. You’ll just need to do the readings again yourself or wait for the meter reader to come.

There are two standards of smart meter – SMETS1 and SMETS2.

If you have one of newer SMETS2 meters, you are fine and have no need to worry. Your meter is compatible with all the systems of all the energy suppliers in the UK. It will continue to work perfectly after the switch.

However if you have a SMETS1 meter, then your new supplier’s computer systems, may not be able to understand the signals coming out of it after you have switched. Some suppliers will be able to understand the signals coming from it; some won’t.

The good news though is that the Government are working on an IT solution to fix this problem and this is meant to be rolled out soon.

We hope that these questions and answers have helped. Please feel free to call us if you have any others that you’d like us to answer.