How do I find out when my energy tariff ends? And why it pays to know
It might not be exciting, but staying on top of your energy tariff – knowing when it ends and being ready to switch – could save you hundreds of pounds.
Competitive fixed-price deals (usually for a year) are a great way to land a good deal; but when they end, customers who forget to switch risk being rolled onto a supplier’s priciest gas and electricity plan automatically - the dreaded Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs).
Don’t sleepwalk into overpaying.
Follow our guide to stay on top of your energy bills and make sure you’re never paying more than necessary.
How do I find out when my energy tariff ends?
You shouldn’t have to go and hunt when your tariff is ending.
Under rules set out by industry regulator, Ofgem, your supplier should notify you 42-49 days before the end of your plan.
Remember, the letter from your provider might highlight its cheapest plan, but it won’t tell you the cheapest on the market. To find that out, run a comparison on A Spokesman Said.
If your supplier doesn’t send you a letter, arm yourself with your account number and ring them up; they will be able to tell you your tariff’s end date.
Alternatively, a copy of your last energy bill should also display the end date.
You can also log in to your account and check your tariff information online.
Top Tip: If your supplier didn’t tell your contract was ending, and you’ve been auto-enrolled onto a new plan, they’ve broken the rules. Demand a better deal or the right to switch exit free.
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When should I switch?
From the time you’re notified your contract is ending by your supplier, you can switch without paying any exit fees – more on this later.
This gives you plenty of time to scour the market and find your next energy bargain.
It’s worth getting online and comparing deals the moment you’re notified your contract is ending.
It can still take up at least three weeks (including a two week ‘cooling off’ period) to complete a switch, so leaving it to the last minute may be risky.
OK, so you’ve run a comparison and there’s nothing cheaper than what you’re paying at the moment, shouldn’t you stay put?
Not at all.
Whilst you might be on a cut-price fixed price deal now, the plan your supplier will automatically sign you up to is unlikely to be as kind.
Switching to one of the market’s cheapest will still save you money when compared to your new deal.
Exit fees – to pay or not to pay?
You can leave your contract earlier than the 42-49-day limit, but it may cost you an exit fee, typically £20-£30 per fuel.
If you’ve found a deal that’s considerably cheaper than your current offer, though, the savings might easily outweigh any exit fees you’re forced to pay.
Your energy bill should tell you if your contract has an exit fee, but if you’re in doubt call your provider.
Some suppliers will waive the exit fee if you switch to another one of its tariffs, so it’s worth checking with them first.
If you’re moving house, but keeping your tariff, you should not have to pay any exit fees.
And some fixed deals don’t come with exit fees at all.
Flow Energy and Scottish Power, for example, have both recently offered fixed-rate contracts with no exit fees.
These are a pretty attractive; you are protected if prices go up, but if they go down, you can switch for free at any time.
Why not switching could cost you money
In 2016, wholesale energy prices, in particular electricity, soared, in part because of the post-Brexit collapse of the pound.
With the cost of energy going up, the prices of suppliers’ SVTs are expected to soar.
These are the tariffs you’ll be rolled onto if you forget to switch at the end of your fixed deal.
In December, Ofgem published a league table exposing how pricier SVTs are than the market’s cheapest deals.
If you were a customer of Npower, for example, and you were rolled onto its SVT, your bills would be £199 more expensive than an average of the market’s ten cheapest deals, and £180 more than Npower’s cheapest deal!
Switching to another fixed-price deal will lock your bills in for another year.