Eight mistakes you make when switching energy

Cut out these simple errors and you’ll find switching and fixing energy even easier.

I know you lot are a savvy bunch. And that means you already know switching and fixing energy can save you hundreds of pounds. So for this article, I’m going to assume you’re one of the 43% of households already on a cheaper fixed deal (well done!). But this doesn’t mean you can switch off.

Whether you’ve just fixed or did it a year (or more) ago, it’s easy to get a few things not quite right – and regret it afterwards.

Avoiding these errors can save you cash or cut the time you spend switching. Some of these I’ve been guilty of myself – and I’ve learnt my lesson! Others I’ve seen friends and family get in a mess over. Hopefully, by reading this you can avoid them altogether.

1. Not switching again when a fixed deal ends

I was filming with a couple last year who were pretty savvy. They’d fixed their energy bill, and were saving a few hundred quid a year. But when I asked when the deal ended they had no idea. It was actually less than two months away.

That might seem like plenty of time, and it is, but only if you’ve got some kind of reminder to check again.

Put a note in your diary or on your phone for around six weeks before your contract ends as this is when you can leave a deal early and not get charged exit fees. Most switches take 17 to 21 days, so make sure it’s done by then to avoid slipping onto the expensive variable deal for a few days.

>> The easy way to save money on your gas and electricity bill

2. Comparing energy too early and too often

At the other end of the scale, you can compare and switch too early. This is a little complicated but bear with me.

Most comparison sites will give tell you what you’ll pay over the next 12 months. This could be a mix of your current fixed deal and the more expensive standard rate when the deal finishes.

But if you were to switch when your deal ends, you’ll never pay the higher variable rate. This means the whole comparison is skewed and could suggest you’d save more than you actually will. It could easily cost you more money if prices have shot up.

I use Martin Lewis’ Cheap Energy Club rather than any other comparison site as you can choose how your energy is compared. I’ve explained it in more detail in the blog on the link below.

>> LISTEN: I explain more about this on my podcast

3. Spending too long on the comparison

You can spend too long looking for the best deal – an energy comparison should take just 10 minutes, 20 at a push.

As long as you’ve got bills with how much gas and electricity you’ve used in the last year there’s no point obsessing over the different prices per kilowatt. Most of us are never going to understand how it all adds up.

>> Watch the full videos that prove you can switch in 10 minutes

4. Ignoring customer service reviews

Since the gas and electricity you get through your pipes and wires is exactly the same whoever you buy from, it makes no difference who you buy from. But the quality of customer service can vary wildly.

My experience with NPower was so bad there’s zero chance I’ll ever get my energy from them again. Even if they were £50 a year cheaper I’d go for the next best bet – as long as they don’t also have shocking reviews.

5. Sticking to the big six energy companies

There are now so many energy companies that you don’t have to stay with British Gas, EDF, NPower, Eon, Scottish Power and SSE.

The newer companies are often really competitive on price, and your supply is always protected if they go bust (as happened last year with GB Energy). The only thing to bear in mind is customer service.

I’m not saying always go for one of these. I chose EDF over a smaller company, even though it was a couple of quid more, but don’t dismiss them out of hand.

>> My step by step guide to getting a better energy deal

6. Missing out on cashback

Always see if you can get a little more off your bill through cashback. Cheap Energy Club usually offer this, and don’t forget to look at Quidco and TopCashback.

You can sometimes even get cashback if you change to a new deal with the same company!

7. Misunderstanding how much you’ll pay

When you use a comparison site, the price that comes up is estimated based on your energy use in the last 12 months. So if you use more energy in the next year, you’ll pay more than the estimate.

Likewise, Direct Debits are based on an estimate, so they could lead to underpayment or overpayment. If you’re worried about this, give regular meter readings.

8. Not checking your final energy bill

Finally, when you move from one supplier to the other, there’s a good chance you’ve paid too much (but only if your Direct Debits were too high).

However, that money won’t necessarily be automatically paid back to you. I’ve had to call up and claim this once the final bill has been settled – often not made easy if your account has been closed.

Of course, there’s also a chance you’ve been underpaying and might have to pay a lump sum. Fortunately when this happened to me last year I had the savings available to pay it.

>> Other ways you could be missing out on money you’re owed


6 thoughts on “Eight mistakes you make when switching energy

  1. Surely advertising / showing cost per kWh, & cost per m3 would identify best prices.
    Have’nt come across a company that offers reductions by tired consumption.
    Seems an easy way to help consumers that suppliers avoid muddying the waters.

  2. Someone can leave their phone/broadband supplier early without paying exit fees if the supplier increases it prices. They shouldn’t be allowed to increase prices as they “contracted” to supply for the original prices, so they should be legally bound not to increase prices. I don’t know if what applies to phone/braodband also applies to energy, but if it doesn’t, my advice is complain to the supplier if they increase prices and if you’re still unhappy, complain to the Energy Ombudsman. I read that a complaint to an ombudsman costs the supplier about £550, and when I complained about my £26 phone bill, my supplier asked the Ombudsman to hold my complaint and offered me a refund of £26 which I accepted. Common sense for them to pay me £26 instead of £550 to the Ombudsman’s office.

  3. Andy. Could you please do an article on what happens regarding non-standard elements of energy supply when you use comparison sites and/or switch supplier. I’m thinking of things like Economy 7, FIT payments and smart meters. I know the last of these has been covered in this newsletter, but that article may not have been read by people who already have a smart meter fitted and who may not realise that it may not work if they switch. Thanks.

  4. Pingback: Cash Chats podcast episode 2 with guest Kalpana Fitzpatrick | Be Clever With Your Cash
  5. Andy. I am concerned about prices going up again. I have exit fees of £60, until March. Although all deals are more expensive expensive, it’s another cost to consider. Switching a deal with my current supplier SSE, i don’t pay them. My usage are Gas 8077. Electric 4986.
    They currently have a two year deal £1085.48, do you think that could be the way forward. Iam disabled and on benefits. Although i don’t get any help with fuel.

    1. Hi Steve, it’s difficult to say. But if you can afford the two-year fix and are happy to pay it for that security, it might be worth it. You can switch without exit fees six weeks before your contract ends, so it won’t be long now for you to get out without paying them.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.