Switching energy suppliers when you’re renting
Energy providers are continually raising their energy prices and the advice is to switch energy providers every year to get a better deal. But, if you’re renting, is it as straightforward as switching over? 8.3 million households rent in the UK, but only 10% are changing their providers. The total money lost by renters who don’t switch their energy provider is a whopping £1.24bn, which is a huge amount of money. And with the average family spending around £300 more than they should, it’s time to start thinking about switching your energy provider. But, is it so simple for renters? Motherhood Diaries discusses the benefits of switching energy suppliers when you’re renting, so you can better spend the money you save on your own home instead.
Can I just switch energy providers?
Absolutely, and now is the time to do it, preferably before winter when the heating gets cranked up and you’re maxing your energy power. So the questions you need to ask yourself is:
- Have you switched energy providers in the last year?
- Are you with one of the big six energy companies? i.e. British Gas, EDF, Eon, NPower, Scottish Power, and SSE.
If you answered no to questions 1 and yes to question 2, then you may be paying 30% more than you should be paying with your energy bills. Therefore you should be changing your energy provider now because you may be wasting around £300 every year.
But, how do I find the best energy deals?
Switching energy providers is the easy part. You compare energy providers by finding an energy comparison site like moneyexpert.com and inputting your details. It is advisable to have your bill on hand to fill out the forms, but if you don’t then the comparison site will estimate the details for you and find the cheapest provider in your area. Make sure you go whole-of-market which means pick the comparison sites which don’t hide tariffs from you. And, don’t be afraid to go with the smaller newer energy providers as their main job is to keep you on as a customer and try to compete against the big six. Look at customer service and make sure they have good customer ratings, so if any issues occur you know that they will work hard to fix them. If you don’t want to take that chance with lesser known energy providers, then keep searching until you find names that you’ve heard of. However, taking a chance on a smaller company may mean you can save up to £350 a year on just your energy bill alone!
If you don’t want to make a change then call up your current energy provider and ask for their cheapest deal. Look for cheaper fixed rates as you’re still paying for the same energy. But, it is far better to do a comparison because you may be missing out on better deals.
What happens when I switch energy providers?
When you request to switch energy providers you may be asked about your energy usage, but if you’ve just moved into a property then you probably won’t have that information to hand. If you’ve moved from another rented property where you have been paying your energy bills, you should an idea of how much you’re paying each month or quarter. When you compare energy providers and look for the best energy deals, the options tend to be how much you have been paying or your usage. Ring the provider for more guidance if you are unsure about how to work this out.
Don’t focus just on price when switching energy providers
One of the major reasons for switching energy providers is to save money, but making savings shouldn’t be the sole consideration. When comparing companies and asking in-depth questions about prices, it’s also important to take into account a company’s history. It’s not ideal to choose the cheapest provider on the market if they fail to offer proper customer care as mentioned above. For example, a broken boiler can cause a lot of problems for people, particularly if it occurs in the mid-winter. Having the knowledge that an energy supplier is on hand to fix problems and ensure that gas supplies are safely administered is important. If the cheapest provider has been chosen, such a breakdown service may not be available.
Looking into a company’s history of energy price hikes is also important. Paying a little more for power might be a good idea if there’s more likelihood that, after the fixed contract finishes, huge leaps in costs won’t be seen. Meanwhile, environmentally conscious customers might like to utilise companies with stakes in renewable energy.
What happens if I’m on a fixed price tariff and I have to leave the property?
You don’t have to pay a penalty if you are on a fixed price tariff and you have to leave the property for some reason. Most energy providers should not charge a penalty if your reason is that you are moving home. But, I would check with your energy provider in advance.
What if I’m on a pre-payment meter?
There is less of an option if you are a pre-payment customer, but you can switch providers. Unfortunately, there are more restrictions placed on deals when switching, so the difference in price that you may save may only be marginal.
What if I experience a power cut? Do I still pay for energy during that time?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if the power has been cut off in your area. But, start getting into the practice of switching your electricity off at the mains to protect your home. If the power has been off for days then find out from your energy provider where you stand – you might be able to claim off your home insurance as well.
What happens if the energy provider I pick goes bust?
If your new cheaper and lesser known energy provider goes bust, you are still protected and are guaranteed continuity of supply. Ofgem, the government regulator for gas and electricity, will transfer your details over to a new company. You may lose the cheap tariff that you found in the first place, but then you would just have to go through the process of switching again.
What difference does it make if I’m renting?
A lot of renters think that because you’re renting you don’t have a choice in which energy provider you choose and you have to stick with the provider that your landlord prefers or that is already registered against the house. But, actually, if it’s in your tenancy agreement that you are responsible for paying your energy bills then you have just as much of a right to switch energy providers as those who own their homes.
Let your landlord know in advance that you’re switching energy providers
Letting your landlord know in advance ensures that you don’t fall foul of any clauses in your tenancy agreement. But as long as there isn’t a clause in the contract, then you are free to switch to a cheaper deal.
What if my landlord won’t allow me to change energy suppliers?
If you’ve spoken to your landlord and s/he has refused to allow you to switch energy suppliers, and it is written into your tenancy agreement, then this may become an issue, especially if your bills are included in your rent or your contract stipulates that the landlord has a preferred provider. Unfortunately, in this instance, you are restricted and it would be best to try to speak to your landlord to waive or change the clause. Mention that you are unable to keep to the high payments and that you both would be better off switching energy providers to save money every month. If you are moving to a new rented home, check the clauses in the agreement which states that the landlord has a preferred choice of provider and ask them to amend the clause to state that if you are responsible for paying your energy bills then you are also responsible for finding the best energy supplier for your new home.
Switching energy providers is clearly the best option when trying to save money on your energy bills. However, if there is an issue with your landlord about switching, try speaking to them about your situation and make clear how much money you stand to save simply by switching energy providers. Most landlords are reasonable if they feel they are kept in the loop of any changes. And, most would be willing to amend or add a clause to allow switching energy providers to make it beneficial for both of you in the long run.
*Collaborative feature post*