What should I do if my energy company goes out of business?
If your energy company goes out of business, changes its name or is bought by another energy company, you don’t need to do anything. You will still have gas and electricity.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, will:
- make sure your supply continues
- automatically switch you to a new supplier.
Your new supplier will contact you directly. They will:
- explain your tariff
- take meter readings – it’s a good idea to take your own as well
- set up your new account
- transfer your credit balance from your old account.
Once they have set up your account and adjusted it to show any credit or money that you owe, you can ask to switch tariff (you can ask to be put on the cheapest tariff) or look for a new supplier. You won’t be charged exit fees.
You can find out more about what will happen on the Ofgem website.
Your energy supplier
How do I know I’m getting the best deal on my energy?
Different energy deals are known as tariffs and there are many types. The most common are:
fixed – the price of your energy is fixed for the duration of your contract
capped – the price may go up or down but it won’t go over a set limit
standard or variable – the price depends on the market and may go up or down
dual-fuel – includes both electricity and gas. Some energy suppliers offer a discount if you buy both fuels as a package.
Fixed and capped tariffs are usually the cheapest and can help you to budget better, but there may be a fee if you want to leave the contract early. There is no end date with a standard or variable tariff and no exit fee if you switch.
If you think you’re paying too much for your energy bill, contact your current supplier to make sure you’re on the best tariff for you. They must tell you about their cheapest tariff and how much money you could save.
You may pay less if you pay by direct debit or manage your account online. Check any deals or discounts carefully and consider the service offered by the supplier.
Should I switch energy supplier?
The energy market is currently going through a turbulent time. Because many energy companies are struggling, you won't find as many tariffs as normal. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on, it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.
There are three basic steps to switching energy supplier:
- compare your tariff with other deals on offer (see “Compare prices” section below)
- choose the best deal
- tell the new supplier you want to switch and they’ll organise the change for you.
It’s a fairly simple process but it can seem daunting. You need to make sure you have the right information before you begin.
Understand your bill
Before you start, it's helpful to get a clear picture of what you need and what's on offer.
You should check how much energy you use. Your energy supplier must give you personalised information about your bill which explains what tariff you’re on, your energy use and details of any exit fees.
The best way to compare prices and deals is by using online price comparison websites. You should check two or three. Some price comparison websites have been accredited by Ofgem. You could also use the comparison tool on Citizens Advice or call one of the energy switching companies, such as uSwitch, for advice.
Be wary of salespeople who offer deals on your doorstep or over the phone. Don’t be pressured into signing anything and take your time to consider any offers. It’s completely fine to say no to an offer.
If you find the deals on offer confusing, you can get help from your local Citizens Advice.
How to switch energy supplier
You can switch online or over the phone. You just tell the new supplier you want to switch and they'll contact your current supplier to organise the change. It shouldn’t take longer than 21 days.
- your postcode
- the name of your current supplier
- the name of your current energy tariff and how much you spend
- an up-to-date meter reading
- your bank details if you’re paying by direct debit.
You may also need your Meter Point Access Number (MPAN) and your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). You’ll find most of this information on your bill.
Make sure you take a meter reading the day before you switch. You should receive a final bill from your current supplier within six weeks. If they owe you any money, you should get a refund soon after that.
There is a 14-day cooling off period in case you change your mind. If you cancel during this period, you’ll stay with your current supplier.
Some suppliers have signed up to a voluntary list of commitments called the Energy Switch Guarantee which should make switching easier. Check to see if your supplier has signed up.
Things to be aware of
If a supplier offers to reduce your direct debit, this doesn’t mean they‘re reducing the amount you pay for your energy. If you use more energy than your direct debit covers, you could end up with a big bill later.
You could lose your Warm Home Discount if you switch to a smaller supplier. Suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are legally obliged to offer this, so check before you switch. You can find a list of suppliers that are part of the discount scheme on the government website.
You might not be able to switch if you:
- rent – check your tenancy agreement to see if you should ask your landlord first
- owe money to your supplier.
Help with your energy bill
Energy Bill discount scheme
If you’re having trouble paying your bills
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, contact your supplier. They must help you to work out a solution, such as a payment plan.
You can’t have your energy supply cut off between 1st October and 31st March if you are a pensioner and you live alone or with other pensioners, or if you live with a child under the age of 18. Anyone who is eligible for the Priority Services Register is also protected.
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to, such as the Winter Fuel Payment. Use our personalised benefits calculator to find out more about what you can claim, or call our free Helpline (0800 319 6789).
Some energy suppliers offer grants and financial assistance to vulnerable customers. You don’t necessarily have to be with that supplier to qualify. Our Extra help with essential costs if you're on a low income factsheet has more details.
Don’t ignore any debt recovery letters. If you’re in debt, get advice. You can still look for a better deal on your gas and electricity if you’re in debt, which could make it easier to repay what you owe. Citizens Advice has more information on how to switch energy supplier if you’re in debt.
Energy saving tips
You could also make savings if you:
- use energy-saving light bulbs and switch off lights when you leave the room
- don’t leave appliances on standby or on charge unnecessarily
- close your curtains and shutters at dusk to keep the heat in
- turn the radiators down - or off - in rooms that you don’t use very often
- draught-proof your windows, doors and loft hatches
- choose energy-efficient appliances.
You can find more tips on the Energy Saving Trust website.
You may be able to get free advice on things like energy saving, how to apply for grants and ways to reduce your bills from organisations such as:
Smart meters measure how much energy you’re using. They automatically send meter readings to your energy supplier through your internet connection. They also display your energy use and what it costs in real time.
Whether you’ll save money by switching to a smart meter depends on the amount of energy you use. You’re charged for the energy you actually use rather than an estimated amount, which may help you budget better. If you need to save money straightaway, it’s best to also look into other options such as checking you’re on the best tariff or if you’re eligible for any benefits.
Getting a smart meter fitted is your choice – you don’t have to get one if you don’t want to. To find out more or to ask for one, contact your energy supplier. They may also offer to install one as part of the smart meter roll-out. You won’t have to pay upfront for it – the cost is paid through your energy bills, just like with old-style meters. You can still switch energy supplier if you have a smart meter, but you may have to go back to manual meter readings if you have a first-generation smart meter.
For more information on smart meters, visit Gov.uk.
If you need help with paying your energy bills or switching energy suppliers, contact: