One of the questions we get asked all the time is ‘if I switch my energy supplier, what effect will that have on my bills?’. The answer depends entirely on your current energy payment setup – for example, are you currently pre-paying for your energy via a top-up or key meter? Perhaps your bills are on a monthly or quarterly direct debit, or maybe you pay the full amount upon receipt of the bill. Depending on how your bills are currently set up will depend on what happens after you switch.
I have a prepayment meter
Also known as a top-up, key, or pay-as-you-go meter, a prepayment meter is a type of domestic energy meter which requires the user to pay in advance for gas and electricity.
If you’re currently on a prepayment meter and don’t pay your bills via direct debit, very little will change when you switch your supplier. As you essentially pay your bills ahead of time by topping up your meter, all that will happen is that you might get a new key or card to use at the top-up point. Some new suppliers even let you top up your prepayment meter via a mobile app or online, meaning you don’t need to leave the house. The best way to find out if you can switch to a supplier who provides this is to compare prepayment tariffs.
I pay my bills via direct debit
Paying your bills via direct debit is the most convenient way to keep your lights on, as you never have to worry about topping up your meter before the balance runs out and you’re sat in the dark. It’s equally as easy to switch energy supplier if you pay your bills via direct debit, as your new supplier can select a date for you which you’d prefer your bills to come out.
You might be thinking ‘well all of my bills come out on the fifth of each month, so I’ll need to push it back a week’, and this option is totally fine as well. Once your switch has been initiated, you can instruct your new supplier to take the direct debit at another time which is more convenient.
I pay my bills on receipt
If you pay your bills on receipt, switching your supplier will also be a breeze – nothing will change, instead, you’ll just get a bill each quarter from your new supplier.
The biggest downside with paying on receipt of your energy bill is that you miss out on huge discounts which can only be obtained by paying via direct debit. Plus, you could forget to pay the bill once it’s sent to you, meaning you could run up late payment charges.
Comparing energy tariffs should be something you do often (we’ll do it for you absolutely free, and tell you when there’s a better deal out there) regardless of your payment method, and the effect on your bills is fairly low regardless of your payment method.
Remember – if you’ve not switched your tariff in the past 12 months, it’s likely that you could make a saving today!