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Switching business energy suppliers

To secure the best deals in business energy, it is necessary to shop around and occasionally switch suppliers. The process of switching can feel quite daunting, so our business energy experts have broken it down into a simple step-by-step guide. Click each stage for more information:

How to change business gas and electricity supplier

Here’s our step-by-step guide to the process of switching business energy suppliers. This switching guide covers electricity and gas supplies to all types of non-domestic properties.

<h3 id="request">Step 1: Request business energy quotes.</h3>

Step 1: Request business energy quotes.

A business energy quote is an offer made by a commercial energy supplier to supply your company with electricity or gas. Quotes can be requested individually from business energy suppliers or using a business energy comparison service.

The quote will include all the details you need regarding how much you will pay for your energy supplied during the contract and will contain the following information:

  • Business energy supplier – The supplier that offers to provide an energy supply to your business.
  • Address – The quote will define the address and specific MPAN/MPRN where the energy will be supplied during the contract.
  • Start date – The date on which the energy supply will start.
  • Duration – The length of time the energy supply contract will be in place.
  • Expected annual consumption – An initial estimate of how much electricity and gas your business will consume annually, measured in kWh.
  • Unit charges – The charge you’ll pay for each kWh of gas and electricity used during the contract term.
  • Standing charges – The daily business energy standing charge you’ll pay throughout the contract is priced in pence per day.
<h3 id="choose">Step 2: Choose your business energy quote.</h3>

Step 2: Choose your business energy quote.

Once you’ve got your quotes in hand, it’s time to choose the best quote for your business. Business energy quotes are usually only valid for a very short period. Suppliers usually update their pricing strategies at least once a week, but with the current wholesale energy market, these can change daily, causing all business energy quotes to be withdrawn.

When you receive business energy quotes, it’s best practice to compare business energy prices immediately to avoid being frustrated that your quotes are no longer valid.

Here are the three key points to consider when making this decision:

  • Tariff type – Small businesses will typically benefit most from a simple fixed rate tariff, but there are more complex options for larger businesses. Check out our complete guide to business energy tariffs.
  • Contract length – Business energy quotes will fix your energy rates for one to three years. By locking into a longer contract, you’ll likely benefit from cheaper business energy rates.
  • Price – Unlock the biggest savings by choosing the cheapest overall quote calculated using your expected annual consumption.

Once you’ve selected a quote, you can request draft contract documentation from your business energy broker or chosen supplier.

<h3 id="review">Step 3: Review and sign your business energy contract.</h3>

Step 3: Review and sign your business energy contract.

The exact form of a business energy contract varies depending on your chosen supplier, but as a minimum, it will include:

  • Your meter point details
  • Agreed contract term
  • Agreed standing charges
  • Agreed unit charges
  • Estimated annual consumption
  • Proposed start date
  • Terms and conditions

Once you’ve reviewed and you’re happy with the contract, you’ll need to provide your broker or supplier with the following information they’ll need for the contract:

i. Details required for credit check:

  • Registered company number (if applicable)
  • Full name (if a sole trader)
  • Home Address (if a sole trader)
  • Date of birth (if a sole trader)

ii. Details to set up your direct debit mandate:

  • Account name
  • Bank name
  • Sort code
  • Account number

Once these details are added to the contract, your broker/supplier will request an e-signature to formalise the agreement. It’s important to remember that business energy suppliers do not have a cooling-off period in their terms and conditions.

<h3 id="supplierreview">Step 4: Your new supplier will review your signed documents.</h3>

Step 4: Your new supplier will review your signed documents.

Once signed, your new business energy supplier will review your signed contract and typically conduct a hard credit check on your business.

The main difference between a hard and soft credit check is that a soft credit check doesn’t leave a visible record on your credit file. The hard credit check performed by your new supplier is a more in-depth analysis of your company or sole trader’s credit history.

If there are issues with your credit at this stage, your supplier can refuse to accept your switch under the terms they quoted.

<h3 id="switch">Step 5: The switch process takes place behind the scenes.</h3>

Step 5: The switch process takes place behind the scenes.

Once your new supplier has accepted your documents, they will kick off the process of switching. The process occurs behind the scenes between your old and new supplier and energy industry operator. This process usually takes between 3 and 6 weeks if you’ve requested an ‘as soon as possible’ switch date.

Your broker or supplier will inform you of the switch’s progress, including letting you know when your new supplier has confirmed the proposed switch date.

💡As of July 2022, Ofgem, the industry regulator, enforced new rules in its faster switching program to encourage faster switching times.

<h3 id="status">Step 6: Your current supplier will analyse your account status.</h3>

Step 6: Your current supplier will analyse your account status.

Your current supplier will receive a notification of your business energy switch. There are three scenarios where your supplier can object to the proposed transfer:

  • Outstanding debt: If you have unpaid bills with your current supplier, they can refuse the switch.
  • In-contract status: If you have a fixed-period contract with your current supplier, you cannot switch suppliers.
  • You’re not the current account holder:  If your business is not registered as the current account holder at the business property, then your supplier can reject your transfer. If you’ve recently moved into a property, you can resolve this by providing the old supplier with proof of a change in tenancy.
<h3 id="done">Step 7: Your new supply commences.</h3>

Step 7: Your new supply commences.

Your broker or new supplier will provide you with a switching date. We recommend that you take a closing meter reading on the switching date to let your old supplier know the final reading so they can produce an accurate final bill.

Your new supplier will use the same readings to commence their invoicing.

If it’s impossible to take a meter reading on the switching date, your old and new suppliers will use the same estimate on the transfer date.

Following the switch, you’ll soon receive:

  • A final business energy bill from your old supplier.
  • Notification from your new supplier that your contract has commenced.
  • Your first bill from your new supplier.

Reasons to switch business energy supplier

Here are the key benefits when changing to a new supplier.

Cost savings

Cost savings

Default variable business energy rates are typically much more expensive than fixed rates being offered in the market. Switch and save up to 45%.

Improved Service

Improved Service

Your new supplier may offer more innovative and customer-centric services, which can improve your overall business energy supply experience.

Fixed Rates

Fixed Rates

Protect your business against rising prices in a volatile energy market by switching to a fixed-rate business energy tariff offered by new suppliers.

When can you switch business energy

Businesses considering switching business energy suppliers must first consider whether it is possible to do so without incurring expensive exit fees with their current supplier. Below, we analyse the most common scenarios.

Standard variable tariff

Standard variable tariff

Businesses that have recently moved or have been automatically rolled onto variable rates after a previous tariff has expired can switch supplier immediately.

Switch date: ASAP (c.3 weeks typically)

Fixed tariff ending within 1 year

Fixed tariff ending within 1 year

Businesses paying a fixed-term tariff can arrange a business energy switch in the last year of their contract, with the switch date scheduled for the final contract date.

Switch date: End date of current contract

Fixed tariff with over 1 year left

Fixed tariff with over 1 year left

It is not possible to switch business energy suppliers without incurring expensive exit fees (with the exception is when your business leaves its property).

Switch date: N/A

How do I switch commercial energy suppliers for multiple business locations?

The steps to switch business energy suppliers for multiple properties depends on whether:

  • The gas and electricity supply for each of your properties is contracted separately with various tariff end dates.
  • You already have a multi-site meter and a single contract encompassing all your properties.

Switching multiple business energy contracts

Firstly, you will want to assess each site’s current energy consumption, business energy tariff and contract end date. The contract end date of each property is important as most suppliers will only allow you to quote six months in advance of the contract end date.

Once you have collated this information, we recommend requesting multiple suppliers to tender for your entire portfolio of sites. We recommend asking your suppliers to arrange your contract so all your supply points have a common end date (making managing your contract much easier in the future).

Our business experts can help collect quotes for your property portfolio as well as manage the switching process for each property. Start by entering your head office details above.

Switching business energy with a multi-site meter

Having all your properties consolidated into one contract is much easier to manage. You will want to contact your current supplier, ask for a renewal quote, and see if you are happy with their pricing and service.

Ask yourself the reason for switching to a new supplier; if it’s the price – reach out to some of the best business energy suppliers and request a tender for your sites.

If it’s due to poor customer service, review a selection of the trusted supplier’s feedback from current and former customers. This way, you can ensure you are happy with their service.

Use our business energy comparison service to collect quotes for your portfolio of properties in the final year of your current contract.

Business Energy Switch FAQs

Here, we answer the frequently asked questions surrounding the mechanics of switching business energy suppliers.

Do I need to sign an LOA when switching to a business energy supplier?

Yes, if you are using a comparison service to switch your energy contract, you will need a letter of authority.

An LOA is a legal document that is always required when using a business energy broker. The LOA generally gives your broker permission to:

  • Request and obtain energy industry-held data about your property.
  • Submit your contract with your chosen commercial electricity/business gas supplier.
  • Communicate with your current supplier on your behalf.
  • Resolve any objections arising in the switching process.

What do I need to do to prepare for my switch?

As you can see in our step-by-step guide above, switching business energy suppliers is mostly a matter of paperwork and requires little preparation.

However, we do advise that you arrange to take a meter reading on your scheduled switch date to provide to your new and old suppliers. This will prevent the suppliers from estimating energy consumption on their final and first bills, respectively.

Is there a fee for switching business energy suppliers?

No, switching business energy suppliers is free if you are coming to the end of your fixed rate tariff or if you pay default variable business energy rates.

However, if you are currently in a fixed energy tariff, you will need to pay an exit fee to terminate your contract and switch to a new supplier.

💡 Exit fees in business energy contracts can be expensive. Typically, it is not worth paying one of these fees to switch contracts.

Here is our full guide to getting out of a business energy contract.

You may also incur a fee if you choose to use an Energy Consultant instead of a broker or switch directly with a business energy supplier. For more information on this topic, please refer to our business energy broker guide.

What happens if I don’t switch when my business contract ends?

Your business energy contract will include a provision for what happens if you haven’t arranged a switch when your contract ends. Typically, you will continue to be supplied by your existing supplier under one of the following automatic tariffs:

  • A rollover fixed contract for 1 to 3 years at rates defined by your supplier
  • A default standard variable contract, which you can switch from at any time.

Check out our full article on what happens at the end of a business energy contract.

How long does the switch take?

According to Ofgem (the energy regulator), once you have signed your new business energy contract, it can take up to 21 days to complete a switch, but in most cases, it is around 17 days.

These switching times apply in the case of an ‘as soon as possible’ business energy switch. If you are currently on a fixed business energy tariff, the switch will be arranged to be completed on your current contract end date.

To ensure a smooth and timely business energy switch, it is a good idea to start the process well before your current contract’s end date and work closely with your new business energy supplier to provide any additional information they need.

Additional factors that affect the time it takes to switch business energy providers include:

  • Meter type: If your business has a half-hourly meter, switching may take longer as it requires more technical work.
  • Credit checks: If there are any issues with your company credit rating, this can delay the switching process.
  • Objections: Your current energy supplier may object to the transfer to the new supplier if the requested start date is before your current contract ends or if you have outstanding payments with your existing supplier.

Source: Ofgem – Switching your business to a new energy tariff or supplier

Can I switch my business energy supplier if I have outstanding bills?

It is possible to switch business energy suppliers even if you have outstanding bills.

However, certain conditions and requirements need to be met before switching. Firstly, if you have outstanding bills with your current business energy supplier, you must pay these before you switch. Your current supplier can object to your switch if you owe them money. You may also need to settle any early termination fees or other charges that may apply if you are still in a contract with your current supplier.

If you cannot fully pay your outstanding bills, you can discuss payment options with your supplier to arrange a payment plan. Once you have an agreed payment plan and have fully paid it off, you can switch business energy suppliers.

If you owe more than £500 for gas or electricity, your current supplier may object to your switch. However, you can still switch if you can provide a letter of no objection from your current supplier or a letter from a debt advisor confirming that the debt is being managed.

You can complete a business energy switch in the UK even if you have outstanding bills, as long as you settle the outstanding balance or have a payment plan in place with your current supplier.

Do I need a new energy meter installed when switching business energy suppliers?

When switching business energy suppliers, you will not need a new energy meter installed. Even if you’re moving to a new property and changing your energy supplier, the likelihood is that you will not need to have a new meter installed.

You may only need a new meter installed if you’re moving to new business premises without an energy meter installed or where a meter is broken.

In this case, you can notify your new supplier and install a new meter on your premises.

How easy is it to change business energy suppliers?

Switching business energy suppliers can seem daunting, but it is just a matter of paperwork. Check out our step-by-step guide to switching business energy above.

It is important to remember that changing suppliers doesn’t involve any physical changes to the pipes and wires that supply your commercial property with energy.

If you switch business energy suppliers with AquaSwitch, our energy experts will make the process as hassle-free as possible. Start by simply entering your business postcode into our address finder below.

Is it best to switch business energy supplier now?

Following the energy crisis, many businesses are paying variable business energy rates in the hope that wholesale energy rates will continue to fall.

If you are in this situation, we recommend checking the fixed rates currently available. Simply add your postcode to our business postcode finder below to compare your current business electricity prices and business gas prices.

You may find that your business can make significant savings today by switching to a one-year contract offered on the market. Check out our complete guide on whether you should fix energy prices until 2024.

Can you switch business energy suppliers with debt?

If you’re in debt, you can switch business energy suppliers. However, this debt must be less than 28 days old at the point of switching.

After switching, you’ll be issued with a final bill by your current business energy supplier that requests payment of all outstanding amounts due. If you have unpaid business energy bills over 28 days overdue, you will need to pay these before attempting to switch to a new supplier.