With over 50 business energy suppliers now operating in the UK, there’s never been a better time to switch energy providers. Due to there being so much competition in the market, suppliers are introducing new deals and tariffs everyday!
Choosing a new business gas or electricity supplier could help you lower your overheads. This provides you with more funds to invest in other areas of your business.
However, with there being so much choice, it can be difficult to find a suitable deal for your business.
This guide will help you switch business energy suppliers without the hassle.
Why Switch Business Energy Suppliers?
You should always aim to switch to a new energy provider when your current contract is coming to an end. You’re likely to find a cheaper deal from a different supplier. Your rates with your current provider will typically increase after your contract ends, and this can lead to expensive bills.
To avoid being overcharged for your business gas and electricity, we recommend comparing energy deals on the market and switching suppliers as soon as your contract’s renewal window opens.
Additionally, not only could you benefit from cheaper gas and electricity, but a different supplier could also offer you better service. If you’re unhappy with the level of service you receive from your current supplier, it’s a good idea to switch to a new provider as soon as you can.
Switch with British Business Energy and your dedicated account manager will notify you when your renewal window opens.
What Happens if you Don’t Switch Energy Suppliers?
If you fail to switch energy providers when your contract ends, your supplier could roll you over to an expensive default tariff. This could lead to you being overcharged for your business gas and electricity and your overheads could increase.
It’s claimed that customers could see as much as a 50% increase in their bills when placed on out-of-contract rates!
When Is The Best Time To Switch?
Switching your business energy supplier is slightly more complicated compared to switching your home energy supplier. Your business size, energy usage and contract type and length all play a role in when you’ll be able to switch.
Renewal Dates & Switching Windows
The first thing you need to know is know when your current contract is up for renewal and when you’re allowed to change suppliers, often called the switching window or notice period.
Have a look is on your current energy bill or energy contract. It should clearly show you when your contract is up for renewal and when your switching window is open and when it closes. If you’re on a fixed contract your renewal date, may be several years in the future.
Typically, it will be anywhere between 60 to 120 days before the end of your current contract, although some suppliers have periods as short as 30 days or require notice as far out as 180 days.
If you can’t find the information, you should be able to ask your energy supplier for it. Moreover, your energy company must also send you a renewal letter (but only if you’re a micro-business, more below) to inform you of your renewal dates, right to switch suppliers, when you can do so and how much you’ll pay on your new contract if you opt not to switch well before your current contract expires.
Medium and Large energy customers who want to switch, need to pay particular attention to the switching window as they likely won’t get a letter but it is often the only time you’ll be allowed to change suppliers. Failure to do so may mean you’re rolled onto another 12 month contract and could end up paying as much as 100% more than you need to.
Rules For Micro-Businesses
The one exception to the above are micro-businesses. These are defined by Ofgem as meeting at least one of the following criteria:
- Employs fewer than 10 employees (or their full time equivalent) and has an annual turnover or balance sheet no greater than €2 million; or
- Uses no more than 100,000 kWh of electricity per year; or
- Uses no more than 293,000 kWh of gas per year.
If your energy bills are less than £1,000 per month your business almost certainly qualifies.
Ofgem now requires that the maximum notice period for terminating a supplier can impose on a micro-business is 30 days. Additionally, 60 days before a fixed-term contract ends, suppliers must also inform you how much energy you use each year, and give you details on how the price of your current deal compares with the new contract prices.
Therefore, if you run a micro-business you have a bit more time and flexibility about changing your contract and supplier.
Switching Deemed Contracts
If you enter into a new business premises you will likely be placed on a deemed contract with the current supplier. If this is the case, you can switch at any time, without any notice period restrictions and/or termination fees.
The same rules generally apply your contract has expired and if you’re paying out-of-contract tariff rates with your supplier.
Also, Ofgem now requires that: “if you are consuming energy on a default – or deemed – tariff, your supplier has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to tell you about other available contracts and how you can get information on these.”
Once you’ve determined when you’re eligible to make your switch, the next step is to figure out if there are better rates out there for you. This is where sites like ours come in handy.
The two things you’ll want to look at are:
- Unit Prices: This is the price you pay per kWh of electricity or gas, usually priced in pence. Typically rates range between 10-20p/kWH for electricity and 3-6p/kWh for gas. If you’re quotes more than the above you are definitely paying too much.
- Standing Charges: This is daily charge paid regardless of how much energy you use or if your business is even open. These can range very widely, anywhere from 25p/day for small customers to £10/day for large commercial operations. Also be aware that you will pay a separate standing charge for both electricity and gas.
How to Switch Business Energy Suppliers
To ensure that you get a better deal for your business gas and electricity, you should compare energy tariffs and select a deal that suits the needs of your company. This can be a time-consuming task, as there is a vast range of energy suppliers and deals available on the market.
In order to save time, we recommend comparing energy tariffs online. Online comparisons are often much easier and quicker to use than energy broker services. For example, here at British Business Energy, we provide a free and simple to use comparison engine that could help you find the best energy deal for your business in just a few minutes!
All you have to do is enter your business’ postcode, contact details and some brief information about your company’s energy needs, and within just a matter of moments you’ll receive your free quote.
How to get Accurate Business Energy Quotes
When comparing business energy quotes online, you want to ensure that the quotes you receive are accurate and suitable for your business.
Unlike domestic energy tariffs, business energy contracts have no cooling off period. So, once you’ve signed up to your new contract, there’s no turning back. That’s why it’s so important for you to make the right choice.
To ensure that you get the best results when comparing energy tariffs, here are a few things you should know and have available to provide:
- Your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) for your electricity meter
- Your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) for your gas meters.
- An estimate for your yearly energy usage. This should be included in your renewal letter (if you receive one).
- General information about your business and the location(s) being supplied
- Previous gas and electricity bills.
Energy Quotes: Online vs Brokers
When you want to compare prices for a new electricity or gas contract you have two options. Either you can compare prices yourself online or you can go through a business energy broker. Neither is “better” than the other, they’re just different. And there’s nothing stopping you from using both.
Here are the pros and cons of each method
You can get these either through comparison sites like ours or by going direct to the energy supplier and requesting a quote from them.
Just be aware that at some point you will almost certainly still need to talk to someone about your business and energy needs to make sure you’re placed on the right contract. Also, they won’t be able to give you prices instantly online, because of the constantly changing nature of wholesale energy market prices.
- Suppliers usually offers their best rates
- Can get quotes quickly
- Might show deals that aren’t right for your business
- Takes effort if you decide to get quotes directly from multiple suppliers
- Comparison sites may only compare a limited number of suppliers
You can get business electricity and gas quotes online here.
Business Energy Brokers
Business energy brokers and consultants will do all (or at least most of) the leg work for you and may be able to find deals from smaller suppliers you may not be aware of.
They may also even be able to help you reduce your energy usage saving you even more money. However, this all comes at a cost.
- Some brokers can handle the entire switching process
- May highlight deals you might not come across online
- No charge for most basic consultations and can help advise you about your energy needs
- Won’t be able to give you prices online, will almost always require one or more calls.
- May offer recommendations based on what earns them more money not what’s best for you.
- Energy brokers usually make their money by adding a margin into their contracts. For example, they may quote you a price of 12p/kWh for electricity, although the supplier’s best rate is really 11p/kWh. The broker then gets to keep the extra 1p/kWh as their margin. This is how they make their money, and as you can see it can quickly add-up if you use a decent amount of energy.
Terminating Your Existing Contract & Signing-Up With Your New Supplier
Once you’ve found a new tariff you’re happy with, the next step is to inform your current supplier that you will be switching and then sign-up with the new supplier.
However, before you do this you should be aware of the following things:
- No cooling-off period: Unlike domestic energy, there is usually no cooling-off period with business energy contracts. This means once you sign a new contract you can’t then go and change your mind. So if you think you might want to try and negotiate with your current supplier before switching, you need to do so before signing any other contracts.
- Exit fees: Generally speaking you should not face any exit or cancellation fees so long as you’re changing within your notice period.
- Transfer time: Normally it takes 4-6 weeks to switch suppliers but can take up to 8 weeks if you’ve got more complicated needs. If your contract with your current supplier ends before the transfer can take place, you may end up on deemed rates, although this should not be for long.
To terminate your existing contract you’ll usually have to send your current supplier a termination letter via recorded delivery (may also wish via e-mail as well).
It generally needs to include the following:
- Printed using your company letterhead and include your business name and registered business address (should match contract).
- Notice that you wish to terminate your contract.
- Your contract number and date it is due to end.
- Your MPAN / MPRN numbers related to the contract.
- The address of the location(s) being supplied by power.
- Signed by business owner or authorised representative.
Can your supplier refuse to terminate your existing contract?
Your supplier can object to you switching, but only for specified reasons. Ofgem states that the two most common reason are:
- If you are in debt with your supplier.
- If you are still bound by your contract, because you are on a fixed term contract where the term has not run out.
But they can’t object if your contract has ended (or is going to end and you’ve given notice during the switching window) or your currently on a deemed contract.
Anything else I need to do before switching?
If you follow the steps above, your switch should hopefully go smoothly. However, just be aware that you will still have to make sure you send final meter readings to your supplier if you’re not using some Smart, HH or AMR meter and arrange final payment of all debts. You don’t want to delay doing this as it could cost you money and time.
But once that’s taken care of you should be free to enjoy cheaper electricity and gas.
How long does it take to complete my switch?
Business energy supplier switches tend to take longer than domestic energy switches. On average it could take between 4-6 weeks for your energy switch to be completed. However, in some cases, the process could take up to 8 weeks if your business’ needs are particularly complex.
Additionally, if your current contract ends before the transfer is complete, you may be placed on deemed rates, but this should only be for a short period.
In order to make your switch go ahead as quickly and smoothly as possible, we recommend that you provide your new supplier with all the information they need about your business. This can help to prevent any interruptions or blockages to your switch. You should also ensure that your balance with your previous supplier has been cleared.
How much could I save by switching energy suppliers?
Switching energy suppliers can help you save a significant amount of money, especially if you’ve been with the same supplier for a while. You may also be able to benefit from additional discounts if you pay for your energy via direct debit, or if you choose to get both your gas and electricity from the same provider.
The savings you make will depend on your business’ size, the number of employees you have, and your level of energy efficiency.
Increasing your business’ energy efficiency can help to boost your savings significantly, it could also help you reduce your carbon emissions. Take a look at our helpful energy saving guides for further advice.
To compare the latest business energy prices today, simply click the button below.