Yup, I’m late to the energy “auto-switching” party, are you? Fortunately the party’s not over – there’s still good time to make hefty savings on our energy bills year after year, whether you’re a homeowner, tenant or [HMO] landlord! Let’s dance.
Saving an average of £400 per year is a sweet and regular occurrence for those that routinely switch their Gas & Electricity supplier.
Only, most of us don’t make the switch, we stick with the same-old and swallow the ludicrous rip-off rates, allowing our bank accounts to cough up blood and mucus!!
Needless to say, our faith will be woefully misplaced if we believe our energy supplier will automatically reward us with loyalty rates. Instead, wisdom should prepare us for punishing price hikes. Just for being faithful. Bat-shit ridiculous when you think about it, really.
Thankfully, it’s a
broken breaking model. There’s a rebellion; the net is closing in, and the vultures are circling.
The resistance has developed and provided consumers with a swanky new and simple solution to beating the system, helping us save both time and money on our energy bills! Forever!
And, it’s becoming insanely popular. For all the right reasons!
First came ‘comparison’ websites, which allowed us to easily scour the market for better rates from one single location. They served their purpose, and will have their place in the history books. But they’re not the future, nor the now. At least, not in the energy sector.
As with most technology, traditional ‘comparison’ and ‘switch’ websites are becoming obsolete because they’ve become sickeningly inefficient for a mob that now demands quicker and less taxing solutions.
Ultimately, their Achilles’ heel is the fact they rely on consumers to sharpen their blades every year to restart the hunt for the best available deals. Not exactly sustainable in a digital world where entering a 4 digit pin to unlock a phone has become too laborious, now we demand facial recognition.
TOO MUCH EFFORT DESTROYS LIVES IN 2019!
Yes, the energy suppliers were grazed, but surviving well, thanks to consumers waving off the annual hunt in favour of collapsing on the sofa.
However, we’re in phase two now; the resistance has introduced “auto-switching” services (not to be confused with basic comparison or switch services), which has made it possible for even the most hideously inactive waste-of-space to be automatically switched onto the best energy rates every time the fixed-term contract expires. Hunting no longer required.
If you’re not already on the ‘energy auto-switch’ hype, let’s take a walk through the newest way of managing our utility tariffs…
My Tenant makes the Energy Auto-Switch
A few weeks ago my tenant called me (naturally, my heart fell out of my ass as soon as I saw her name flashing on my phone screen. As usual, whatever she’s broken or whatever her stupid drunk boyfriend-of-the-week has a put a hole though, I don’t want to know about it!):
Tenant: Hi! Can I change energy suppliers [gas & electricity], do you mind??
Me/Landlord: Why? Is British Gas getting on your saggy tits?
Tenant: No, it’s just, I’ve been here [in your beautiful property] for 5 years and I never thought about switching energy suppliers until I recently heard Martin Lewis [from MoneySavingExpert.com] recommending energy ‘switching services’ to continually keep my energy bills as cheap as possible.
Apparently I can save £550 if I switch to another supplier this year.
Me/Landlord: Nah, I’d rather you stick with the current supplier, to be honest. Changing suppliers sounds like a lot of faffing around, and it’s hassle I can’t be bothered to deal with when you inevitably mess something up during the migration. On a sidenote, I may need to increase your rent, you’re starting to be unpleasantly demanding.
Me/Landlord: No, I’m joking, you silly goose. That’s one hell of a saving! I’m proud of you. DO IT!
‘Comparison’ Vs ‘Comparison & Auto-Switching’ Services
I think many people – like my fossilised parents, who still deem it acceptable to pay poor and unsuspecting schmucks with cheques – avoid dethroning energy suppliers because of the perceived hassle of it all.
Mum/Dad: Who wants to drudge through various comparison websites and input copious amounts of personal information just to salvage a marginally better rate and then administrate the transfer to a new supplier, which is bound to go wrong, when we can just blindly and blissfully continue with our current supplier [and gobble up their tasteless rates]?
OH MY GOD! I HATE YOU PREHISTORIC DICKHEADS’ SO MUCH! How are you even my blood?!? *slams bedroom door*
Once upon a time, my beloved dinosaurs’ may have had a [subjective] point, to be fair. For reasons already covered, traditional comparison websites aren’t all that efficient anymore. Even my dusty parents know it.
I’ve historically unearthed better deals by stampeding through comparison websites (e.g. MoneySuperMarket.com. Confused.com etc) and tasking their algorithms to match me with better partners, every few years.
Case in point, the old way was an fallible solution to mere mortals that, quite frankly, can’t be fucked to do it every year. Even if it takes 10 minutes.
Shamefully, I’ve allowed too much time to pass since my last switch, and I wasn’t aware of auto-switching back then. I’m not even sure if they existed, so I still had to get a quote from a comparison website and then contact the energy supplier directly to tie a deal together.
I feel exasperated just thinking about the old way.
I’m currently tied into my demoralising contract with British Gas for another 4 months *mumbles* After they’ve finished draining me senseless, I’ll almost certainly partake in the good old switcheroo. And I’ll keep it automated this time.
Apparently, according to my early tests, Switchd.co.uk can save me a handsome £340 per year by switching to a new tariff (unless British Gas gets on their knobbly knees and coughs up a sweeter deal! I won’t be holding my precious breath).
How Energy Comparison & Auto-Switching Services work…
An Energy Switching Service will search the market to find the best energy deal for your HMO, BTL and your own home, so you benefit from the best available tariff, and they’ll manage the entire switch for you.
“Auto-switching” is an additional feature (which many standard “switch” services DON’T provide), which enables them to automatically re-switch you onto the best tariff after your fixed term ends, ensuring that you are always on the cheapest deal.
All you need to do is sign-up once to an auto switch service, and that’s it. They take care of the rest. Over and over again.
Having looked into the logistics, it seems like a no-brainer service that everyone [that is responsible for paying energy bills] should be taking advantage of, unless I’m tragically missing the bear trap (which I’m sure someone will aggressively point out if that’s the case). Generally, here’s how it works:
- Sign up to an energy comparison/auto-switch website ONCE.
- Enter the details of your property and current tariff(s).
- Allow their algorithm to search the market for better deals than your current one.
- Once a better deal is found, they’ll auto switch your tariff to the better rate. There’s no obligation to switch, you can cancel the auto switch.
- Once the deal ends they’ll re-switch you onto the best tariff for your given energy usage – you don’t need to do anything. If it’s with a new supplier, your details will automatically get passed onto them, so you won’t need to supply your personal information again.
The auto-switch suppliers will notify you of the new tariff and give you an opportunity to reject the switch; you will typically have a 14 day cooling-off period to cancel any automated switches.
That’s the jist of it, anyways.
Energy Comparison & Auto-Switching Services
I’ve discovered a few of the most popular (according to Google’ Search Results) and highest rated energy switching services, and I’ve listed them below:
Look After My Bills||
How ‘Look After My Bills’ (LAMB) works
P.s. Yes, in case you’re wondering, these are the same folk that appeared on Dragon’s Den and “got the best deal EVER” (YouTube clip).
**Free or Paid Plan
How ‘Switchd’ works
**Free or Paid Plan explained
How ‘Flipper’ works
How ‘Migrate’ works
I recommend looking at the FAQ section of each switch service to determine how they manage switches, some of them slightly differ from one another. For example, Migrate switch your energy once a year. They will email you every time they are about to switch you, letting you know who your new supplier and tariff is, how much the plan will cost over the next 12 months and how much you are saving.
While Flipper check for deals every month and switch you automatically whenever they find a better saving over £50/yr. They don’t show the deals for review before switches are instructed, but you have a 14 day cooling-off period to cancel any switch.
I want to switch energy suppliers, but what about exit/cancellation fees and penalties?
There’s a decent article on Flipper’s website about Energy Supplier Exit Fees. To summarise:
- Energy supplier exit fees (cancellation or leaving fees) are applied to fixed-term energy tariffs with a fixed price and contract end date. If a customer wants to switch energy and leave your provider before the end of the contract, an exit fee could apply.
- Nearly two-thirds of all energy tariffs don’t have exit fees,
- The highest energy exit fee in the UK is £100 per fuel by Engie – that’s £200 for both gas and electricity.
- If you’re on a fixed-rate tariff (a fixed monthly fee and an end date) check your contract for details or information about exit fees.
- Those on variable tariffs won’t have to pay an exit fee
On a sidenote, Flipper calculates savings with energy exit fees included. Savings figures tell customers how much they stand to save after exit fees are deducted.
Everyone Should Benefit from the Best Energy Deals
I’m not necessarily telling everyone to contact their tenant to see if they can benefit from a better deal on their energy tariffs (because you probably don’t care), but I am saying the following:
- Obviously tenants and landlords aren’t the only one’s that can or should save money on energy bills. My tenant’s innovation was just my segway onto the topic.
If you’re not currently using an energy switching service to keep your own residential energy bills in check, maybe you should be.
- If you’re not responsible for the utility bills of your BTL(s), then you could just mention the switch service to your tenant if the opportunity ever arises. I mean, why not? Renting is already expensive enough. Maybe your tenant(s) will stay longer than anticipated if their living costs reduce, which of course, is better business for you (unless you have garbage tenants that you’re trying to dispose of).
- If you’re a landlord that is responsible for utility bills (common for HMO landlords and the loony single-let landlords that enjoy the headaches of including utility bills with the rent), then using an energy switching service could be a decent means of maximising profits.
Isn’t Switching Energy Suppliers a Pain in the Ass, though?
Yeah, so the thing is, I’ve exercised much more discipline with annually searching and renewing other subscription based services, such as home, BTL and car insurance policies. They just seem significantly easier to manage.
With switching energy suppliers, I’ve been partially paralysed by the figment of my wild and vivid imagination; I’ve previously runaway with mental scenes haunted by tonnes of earth being excavated, and gas pipes and electrical cables being relayed and rerouted in order to make the switch happen. My mind overreacts, for sure, but that’s the kind of irrational non-sense my beautiful mind has to conquer, and the reason for why I probably don’t change my energy supplier as much I should.
Coincidentally, moments before publishing this blog post, this tragic tale appeared on my Twitter feed…
No, Victoria didn’t get swindled by an energy auto-switching service. Just a sweet lady selling Octopus Energy packages and fine tupperware.
I’d personally side-step door sales people selling energy solutions. Or anything else.
Shout out to Victoria Whitlock (“The Evening Standard’s Accidental Landlord”) for being such a brave victim. You can catch her on Twitter. I’m sure she’ll appreciate our prayers during these dark times (drum roll, please!).
In any case, you can never please everyone all the time. Some times the transition will be smooth, others as rough as the acne on your Nan’s ass. Perhaps naively, I’m inclined to believe “professional” auto-switch services manage the complications and have fine-tuned the migration to deliver minimum disruption, otherwise they wouldn’t really have a business. Errr… right? Right. Plus, I think the trade-off for any potential mishaps will be worth it, and I’m counting on the good times to outweigh the bad.
It is reassuring that there have been a lot of positive reviews for the switch services I listed.
Will you ALWAYS get the BEST energy deal available?
Ha, don’t be a dumb-ass! Of course you won’t. Most likely!
But that’s not the point.
You might get your grubby little mitts on a better rate each and every year if you manually query each energy supplier’s website and every available comparison website on the internet. But the problem is, most people aren’t doing that each and every year, they’re sitting bone-idle, which is precisely “auto-switch” services were able to fill the gap.
I think it’s fair to say that if you use an automated energy switching service you’re much more likely to continuously benefit from better rates than if you were to blindly continue with your current tariff like many of us are, even though we’re aware of comparison websites. And that’s the point.
I think it’s a practical service that many will save money from leveraging. Worse case scenario, I get shown better rates and decide not to switch because the new figures don’t wet my appetite enough.
What’s your deal?
I’m sure many of you will already be on the energy switching hype train, so you’ll be forgiven for looking down at me in utter disgust for arriving to the dance so unfashionably late. But if you’re also late, hopefully this has been a useful camp.
If you do happen to give one of the switching services a spin, whether it be any of the one’s I listed or otherwise, please share your outcome.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.