This page is also available in Welsh.
If you are a business consumer, switching energy supplier, or setting up a new account as soon as you move into new premises can make a big impact on cutting your bills.
Whatever your business, the following hints and tips will help you when you’re comparing deals, and when you’re switching to a new supplier.
Talk to suppliers
Ask your own supplier if it has any cheaper offers. This will give you something to use as a benchmark when looking at other deals. Note 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.
Check your meter
Taking regular meter readings will help build up a picture of your consumption over time. You need to know your consumption, so that other suppliers can provide a quote for you.
- Your meter has unique registration numbers: the MPAN (for electricity meters) and MPRN (for gas meters) numbers. Give these to your new supplier. You can find them on your meter, as well as on your bill.
Know your contract
Make sure you know the terms of your current contract.
For example, how long before your existing contracts ends can you tell your supplier that you want to move? (Many contracts will only allow you to do this at certain times.)
- When you are talking to a competing supplier ask it to explain the terms and conditions of its deal so you can make sure you fully understand them before you sign up.
- Most business deals do not offer a cooling off period(this is the option of cancelling a contract within a certain amount of days after it is agreed). This includes when you have agreed to the contract over the telephone. So be sure that you are fully happy with all the terms and conditions before you agree to it.
More advice about contracts for micro-businesses and larger small business is available here.
What should I check when using a broker?
Some businesses choose to use brokers to help them compare their current deals with those of other suppliers.
If you do decide to use a broker, ask it:
- which suppliers it represents (so you know whether it will compare the whole market for you)
- how its services are paid for - (for example, will its commission be included in the prices you are quoted?).
If you have any concerns about the actions of a broker you can talk to your local trading standards department which, along with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has enforcement powers which may apply to some forms of misleading information and communications.
Can suppliers object to switching?
Your current supplier can object to your company switching, but only under specific circumstances, most of which will be set out in your contract.
Some typical reasons include:
- if you are in debt with your supplier
- if you are still bound by your contract, because you are on a fixed term deal where the term has not run out.
But your supplier cannot object on the two above reasons if:
- you are not signed up to any contract because you are on a deemed contract
- your contract has expired and you are not bound by its terms.
If your current supplier does object to your switch, they are under licence obligations to tell you this as soon as possible. They must also tell you:
- the reason why they have objected
- how you can dispute this if you think you have a case
We recently published an open letter reminding suppliers of their obligations for this. There are some some examples of good practice set out in our recent Retail Market Review: Non-domestic Proposals consultation, in Appendix 2, page 49).