Customers have the ability to save hundreds of pounds by switching energy supplier and comparison sites have played a major part in making this achievable. They find the latest tariffs from the 40 or so suppliers in the UK; update their systems pretty much straight away and facilitate the switch over process.
Auto-switching companies are the next step in the evolution of energy comparison sites, to find and switch you to a supplier automatically when your current tariff ends, so you don’t have to manage any aspect of it. But as the system is still in its early stages, it may not be ideal for everyone at the moment.
Here, we look at the pros and cons of using auto-switching comparison sites for changing energy companies, as well as much more besides.
What is energy supplier auto-switching?
Auto-switching is when comparison sites not only compare tariffs available to you, but automatically switch you to a supplier based on your preferences. They can find and switch you to green tariffs or those that offer discounts for your household circumstances. They can even send your direct debit details if you have chosen that as a payment method.
How does auto-switching work?
The comparison site registers you with them and takes information such as an address, bank details if paying by direct debit and any preferences for tariffs. It then searches and switches you to a tariff it feels match your requirements and continue to switch you in the future.
Some companies wait until a tariff has ended before automatically switching you over to another one. But others constantly look for a better deal throughout the year and switch you, taking into account any exit fees. They will usually let you know about the intended switch and give you 14 days to change your mind.
can i switch my supplier right now using an energy auto-switching service?
Yes, you can switch your energy supplier right now using an energy auto-switching service. Energy auto-switching services compare gas and electricity prices for you and automatically switch you to the supplier and tariff they calculate to be the best for you based on your preferences and what they can offer. They keep on checking and comparing prices to keep you on a good deal.
Auto-switching is a simple way to switch energy supplier and save money on your energy bills every year without the headache and hassle of comparison sites. It is a modern way to do bills that can potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.
However, it is important to do your research and compare different auto-switching services to find the best option for your needs. Some auto-switching services may charge fees or have different terms and conditions, so it is important to read the fine print before signing up.
Is there a fee for an energy auto-switching service?
There are free and paid versions of the auto-switching service. The free service doesn’t always include the whole of market results, just like normal comparison sites. The paid-for services (usually £30 per year) don’t need to rely on commission from suppliers so they tend to include all tariffs, which will save you the most.
What are the benefits of auto-switching?
Prevents information overload
With so many suppliers in the market, each with a dozen or more tariffs, when the time comes to switch, it can quickly become a case of information overload and you may not even know where to start.
The auto-switch energy service takes this stress away from you and manages the process every year.
You find cheaper suppliers at the right time
Many customers end up on the standard variable tariff with an energy supplier simply by forgetting to make the switch themselves in time. This costs them extra money while finding and going over to a cheaper supplier. This money can be saved by auto-switching when the cheap tariff ends.
No cost or low cost of auto-switching for customers
The cost of using an auto-switch service is either free or cheaper than not switching at all or leaving the switch too late when comparing suppliers yourself. Most companies will only auto-switch if you will make a saving of at least £50 so it works out cheaper.
No need to contact the new supplier
The auto-switch service sets up the account with the new supplier including your payment and meter details so you don’t have to contact them. If you have a smart meter, they can even give the meter reading to the new supplier; otherwise you will have to provide it.
You can set preferences for companies to switch to
You can still control which supplier you are switched to by setting preferences such as: big companies only, customer service rankings, green tariffs, warm home discount only suppliers etc. There is also the option to change your mind within 14 days if you don’t want to go ahead with the change of supplier.
They search for all tariffs from all suitable suppliers
The paid versions of auto-switch sites compare the whole of the market searching for all available tariffs, unlike some normal comparison sites that may leave out suppliers and tariffs they can’t get a commission for.
The cons of auto-switching energy services
The recurring charge for the service
Because there is a charge for this service, you could save this money by comparing the best tariffs yourself each year. The £30 annual cost of auto-switching may be saving you around a half hour to an hour each year. You are usually notified 6 weeks in advance of the current tariff ending so you have all this time to search for a better tariff yourself.
Results may be commission based
The free auto-switch services take a commission from the energy supplier and so may not show you the very cheapest tariffs available. There are a few suppliers who do not pay a commission at all to comparison sites and they may be left out of the results.
Less information is given at renewal
Having a tariff chosen for you may not be the cheapest deal available. Once you have paid for the service, you have the tendency to just leave the admin work to them so you won’t know whether you are really benefitting from the switch.
May not take into account change of circumstances
Depending on your preferences, you would not be able to use the full service of auto-switching. By choosing warm home discount only tariffs for example, you will be limiting the search results and many functions are similar in normal comparison sites.
Frequently changing suppliers for little gains
The saving may not be as great as you had hoped. Because the minimum saving is £50 for you to be switched, you may not save all that much each time and also find that in one year, you have been with two or three different suppliers.
Changing supplier more than once in a year means you don’t always have accurate yearly usage information to be able to compare with another tariff. The solution to this may be to only compare usage in kilowatt hours rather than the amount of payments paid.
Additionally, it is recommended to regularly check the tariffs offered by different suppliers and compare them with the one you are currently on, to make sure you are always on the best deal. Another suggestion is to opt-in for notifications from your auto-switching service so you can stay informed about the intended switch and have the option to change your mind.
Important considerations when using auto-switching services
- The role of regulatory bodies: It’s important to note that energy auto-switching services are regulated by the relevant regulatory bodies such as Ofgem in the UK. These bodies ensure that consumers are protected and that the services provided are fair and transparent. Ofgem, the regulator of the gas and electricity markets in the UK, has set certain rules and guidelines for energy auto-switching services to ensure that consumers are protected and that the services provided are fair and transparent. For example, auto-switching service providers must have a clear and prominent statement about their charges on their website, and also give customers the option to opt-out of the service.
- Comparison of different auto-switching services: A comparison of different auto-switching services available in the market, including their features, fees, and customer reviews, could be helpful for consumers to choose the best service for their needs. Look After My Bills: Look After My Bills is a free service that continuously searches for the best energy deals and switches customers to them automatically. It also covers both gas and electricity and allows customers to set preferences for suppliers.
WeFlip: WeFlip is another free service that automatically switches customers to the best deals. They also allow customers to set preferences for suppliers and offer a referral program that rewards customers for referring friends and family.
Switchcraft: Switchcraft is a free service that automatically switches customers to the best deals, and also offers a paid version which includes additional features such as smart meter tracking and alerts when bills increase.
Flipper: Flipper is a free service that automatically switches customers to the best deals, and also offers a paid version which includes additional features such as smart meter tracking and alerts when bills increase.
AutoSwitching: AutoSwitching is a free service that automatically switches customers to the best deals, and also offers a paid version which includes additional features such as smart meter tracking and alerts when bills increase.
Switchd: Switchd is a paid service that automatically switches customers to the best deals, costs £30 per year and includes additional features such as smart meter tracking and alerts when bills increase.
It’s important to note that this is just a quick comparison and the availability of these services may vary depending on location and other factors. It’s always a good idea to research and compare the different options and read customer reviews before making a decision.
- Impact on the environment: Some auto-switching services allow customers to switch to green tariffs, which can have a positive impact on the environment by promoting the use of renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power are becoming increasingly important as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. They are also becoming more cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuel sources. Auto-switching services can play a crucial role in promoting the use of renewable energy by making it easier for customers to switch to green tariffs offered by suppliers who source a significant portion of their energy from renewable sources.
When customers switch to a green tariff, they are effectively choosing to pay a little more for their energy in order to support the development and use of renewable energy sources. This not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the energy sector, but it also helps to create a market for renewable energy and encourage more investment in this area.
In terms of cost, it is important to note that green tariffs may not always be the cheapest option in the short term, but they can be cost-competitive over the long term. Additionally, many governments offer incentives and subsidies for renewable energy, which can help to offset the costs.
In terms of environmental impact, using green tariffs can have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change. Renewable energy sources do not produce emissions or pollution in the same way that fossil fuels do, and therefore, using renewable energy reduces the amount of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.
- Impact on customer service: Some auto-switching services may have an impact on customer service, as customers may have to contact the auto-switching service instead of the energy supplier in case of any issues. To ensure that customers are satisfied with the service they receive, auto-switching services typically have measures in place to provide high-quality customer service. Some of these measures may include:
A dedicated customer service team that is available during regular business hours to answer questions and address concerns
Clear and easy-to-understand explanations of the service and the switching process
A user-friendly website and mobile app that allows customers to manage their account and track the switching process
Regular communication with customers throughout the switching process, including notifications about the intended switch and the option to change their mind
A clear and easy-to-find complaints process that allows customers to raise any issues they have with the service
- Long-term savings: Auto-switching services can help customers save money in the long term, as they continuously monitor and switch to the best deals. Using auto-switching services can help customers save money on their energy bills over time. The exact amount of savings will vary depending on factors such as the current tariff, usage, and location. However, some estimates suggest that customers can save anywhere from £50 to £300 or more per year by switching to the best available tariff.
For example, let’s say a customer is currently on a standard variable tariff with an energy supplier and paying £1,200 per year. An auto-switching service finds a new tariff that is £300 cheaper per year. By switching to this new tariff, the customer would save £300 per year. Over the course of three years, the customer would save £900.
Additionally, using auto-switching services can provide customers with long-term benefits such as:
Peace of mind: The service takes the stress out of searching for the best deals and managing the switching process, allowing customers to focus on other things.
Continuous savings: The service continuously monitors the market and switches customers to the best deals as they become available, ensuring that customers are always on the best tariff and saving money over time.
No Exit Fees: Auto-switching services typically take into account any exit fees when switching to a new supplier and usually, they will only make the switch if the saving is greater than the exit fee.
Increased competition: By making it easier for customers to switch to different suppliers, auto-switching services can increase competition in the energy market and lead to lower prices for all customers.
Supporting renewable energy: Some auto-switching services allow customers to switch to green tariffs, which can have a positive impact on the environment by promoting the use of renewable energy sources.
- Security and data privacy: Ensuring that customers’ personal and financial data is protected and secure when using auto-switching services is important. In this section of the article, it would be worth discussing the measures that auto-switching services take to protect customers’ data, such as encryption, secure servers, and regular security updates, as well as any certifications or accreditations they hold.
Auto-switching services make switching energy suppliers easier and save customers time. Look After My Bills, Flipper, Switchcraft, Switchd and WeFlip are among the biggest names that check the market for you and switch you to the gas and electricity tariff they judge to be the best, so you don’t have to. However, you may end up paying more than you need to. Some services also consider customer service when selecting which suppliers to recommend.
There are some negatives to auto-switching such as the annual cost of the service and whether you as the customer could find something even cheaper with a bit of legwork yourself, especially as it doesn’t take that long to find a better deal.
But as a relatively new concept in comparing energy deals, auto-switch sites have definitely filled a space in the market and made it easier for many customers: especially those who are not computer literate and have no one to help them, or don’t have the time to search each year; to find cheaper gas and electricity deals and save some money. They are likely to expand and soon many comparison sites could follow this method.