When you moved into your current home what were the first things you did? Unpacked some boxes, ordered a takeaway, had a celebratory drink or collapsed in a heap after the stresses and strains of moving? Did you think about finding out who your new utility suppliers are?
Finding a new place to live (be it a house, flat or a room in a shared property), can be a daunting prospect. There are estate agents to deal with and potentially landlords too if you are renting. The list of things you need to and should do before, during and after moving home can seem like an endless stairway of tasks to climb, stretching of to infinity.
Unfortunately finding out who your utility suppliers are is one more task which should be on your list. However it is one which could end up saving you money in the long run, so is well worth doing. In the excitement, trepidation and and hectic chaos of moving home it is very easy to overlook smaller details such as utility bills and suppliers but it is something which should be done to ensure you are only paying for the energy you have used and to get the best deal possible.
Ofgem research has found that those of us who rent are much less likely to check energy suppliers and research into switching. Ofgem’s research showed that over ¾ of renters (77%) have never switched energy supplier and around ⅕ aren’t aware that it is even possible to do so whilst a tenant.
These figures show that renters are being left in the dark by landlords, agencies and consumer bodies when it comes to information about utility contacts, supplies and costs. People are often falsely lead to believe that their choice of utility supplier is decided upon by their landlord. In some cases a landlord may specify a default energy supplier in the rental contract. However, tenants are still legally entitled to switch suppliers after moving in – if they are directly responsible for paying the bill; when the bill is in the tenant’s name. If the energy contract is in the landlord or letting agents name then it is not possible to switch supplier.
The good news for tenants is that, in the vast majority of cases, you are legally entitled to pick and switch your energy supplier, finding the deal which best suits you and your energy usage. Typical savings can be up to a few hundred pounds per household.
The better way to moving home
Whilst I will be looking at this more from the point of view of the estimated 9 million (energy) bill payers in the UK who rent, it is still relevant and useful for homeowners too. To be courteous to either your landlord, future tenants or the new owners make sure to leave a note with the name and contact details of (all of) your utility suppliers. This simple action can go along way to making the process of switching over for the new owner much easier. Taking a couple of extra minutes to note down any meter readings and call the energy companies to let them know you are moving and give those readings will make things go even smoother for the new residents at your old home.
When you move into a your new home one of your first jobs on moving day should be to note down electricity and gas meter readings and then to contact your energy company(s) with these figures. Informing the energy company will do two things. Firstly, it will ensure that you are not paying for energy used by the previous tenant, owner or the landlord between tenancies. Secondly, it also means you are not being charged, and potentially overcharged via estimated billing.
This might not always be easy for tenants to do. If the previous occupant has not left a note with the name of utility suppliers with whom the property is connected, and if the landlord or agent is not aware of the supplier, then finding out who is supplying your services might not be obvious.
Finding your electricity supplier can be a little tricky. The UK electricity network is split into distribution regions with their own distribution companies. These distributors keep a record of each properties energy supplier. Finding out your electricity company is as simple as calling up your electricity distributor (See here for a national list) requesting your supplier information. They will ask for details of your property and something called a Meter Point Administration number (MPAN) which is listed on your electricity meter.
Gas suppliers are easier to find with a dedicated line to call to find your gas company – Meter Number Helpline: 0870 608 1524. Calls cost 7p per minute and again you’ll need your MPRN number.
Alternatively, there is an online version of the Mnumber helpline available called Find My Supplier.
Once you know both your energy supplier and your current tariff you can then use a comparison service, such as My Utility Genius to compare energy suppliers and plans to make sure you get the best deal for how you use energy at home.