Frequently Asked Questions
- Who are the Energy Advice Line?
- Why use the Energy Advice Line?
- Why switch supplier?
- What do you need to do before you can make the switch?
- How do I obtain a quote?
- What does a supplier need to provide you with a quotation?
- What is my Estimated Annual Electricity Consumption?
- What is my Estimated Annual Gas Quantity?
- How long does it take to switch supplier?
- What is your renewal offer?
- What you should do when you receive your renewal offer
- What happens if my renewal offer does not arrive?
- What is a Supply Contract?
- Do I have a Supply Contract?
- What type of contract am I on?
- What type of contract should I accept?
- What is the Contract Duration, or Contract Period?
- What is a Contract Termination Notice?
- What is a Contract Period End Date?
- What is a Deemed Acccepted Contract?
- What is an Evergreen Contract?
- What is Half Hourly Metered Data?
- What is a Meter Operator?
- What is a Data Aggregator?
- What is the Wholesale Market?
- What is the Energy Retail Price?
- What is the Supply Start Date (SSD)?
- Should I take a meter reading on or around the Supply Start Date?
- Should I read my own meter throughout the contract?
- Who reads my meter?
- What payment terms should I choose?
- Do suppliers ask for credit worthiness or security?
- What happens if I do not pay my energy supplier?
- What happens if you believe that your bill is incorrect?
- What happens if I want to cancel my contract during the contract period?
- What can happen if your current supplier has a contract clause about "choosing to match your best offer"?
- What is Value Added Tax (VAT)?
- What is Climate Change Levy (CCL)?
- How will I find out if I am exempt from CCL?
- Who are OFGEM?
- Who are Energywatch?
Who are the Energy Advice Line?
The Energy Advice Line is the only impartial online gas and electricity price comparison service run by business energy experts for business energy customers. You, the customer, can view the five msot competitive energy offers from the UK's leading suppliers on the Energy Advice Line website. Simply compare their prices with your renewal quotation, and switch to your preferred option at the click of a button.Why use the Energy Advice Line?
We are the premier impartial online business electricity and gas price comparison service that allows you, the customer, the opportunity of viewing and comparing some of the best prices on the market. You tell us what your contract preferences are and we do the rest. If you can also provide the Energy Advice Line with the renewal price being quoted bu your current supplier, we will present a summary displaying the five most competitive prices on the market with a percentage saving against your renewal offer. You do not need to shop around to compare your renewal offer from your current supplier because we do that for you.
The Energy Advice Line will provide all the information you need to make the switch in confidence. All you need to do is make your selection online and we do the rest.
The Energy Advice Line service is built on honesty and integrity. Industry expert advice is just a free phone call away at any time if you require further assistance or just need to ask us a quick question.
Our obligation is to provide the best advice and save you as much money as possible and this does not stop when you move to your new supplier. The Energy Advice Line customer management team will be available at any time during the contract period to answe rany questions or speak to your supplier about any queries you might have.
Given your response to your current suppliers service we will also be able to form a picture of who is providing the business energy customer with a satisfactory service and who could improve. Please feed back any information over the phone or online and the Energy Advice Line will build a star rating that will measure all of the suppliers service performance, thus making it easier for you and future business customers to make a more informed decision on who they switch to.Why switch supplier?
For a market to function properly, customers can identify which product is best for them and switch if they want to get a better deal. This, in turn, encourages companies to compete vigorously to retain customers and attract new ones. It ensures that companies cut costs and innovate in order to offer new products to meet customer's needs at low prices.
In theory, if you do not switch supplier, the active switchers improve competition in the market, which in turn benefits all consumers, including inactive customers. In practice however, suppliers are unlikely to offer all existing customers the same benefits as new customers. Inactive customers are at risk of becoming a target for price discrimination by the suppliers.What do you need before you can make the switch?
Make sure that you leave yourself ample time to gather the key information before making your choice, as follows:
- Confirm the termination conditions of the contract with your current supplier
- Gather some key information regarding your premises such as the supply number for electricity supply ('S' number - also referred to as Meter Point Administration Number, or MPAN), and Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) for gas, together with your company name and address. All of this will be available from your current invoices.
- Obtain and compare a number of offers from a range of suppliers. Remember to comare all the details of the offers - a low price may not look so attractive when paired with difficult cancellation or termination conditions or other contractual obligations.
Before asking fr quotes from energy suppliers, or issuing a formal tender document, make sure you have as much of the following information as possible for all the premises you wish to transfer:
- Full address and postcode for each commercial premise you own or rent.
- The reference number for all the meter point(s) as shown on your bill(s) from your current supplier (i.e. Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) for gas and Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) or also known as the Supply 'S' number for electricity. You may have more than one meter point for either fuel at your premises; you can check this with your existing supplier if you are unsure.
- Meter Serial Number(s) - the number printed on your meter(s). If in doubt you can ask your supplier, who could offer to arrange a meter reading visit (although this may incur a charge).
- Your best assessment of the annual amount of energy used, and the nature of your business consumption patterns since different rices may apply depending upon seasonal fluctuations or the time of day at which you need to use the energy. All of the following will be available from your latest bill, or from your current supplier.
- For businesses which consume a significant amount of electricity, the maximum demand is required (the largest amount of electricity consumption in any one half-hour period).
- Where gas consumption is high, the Authorised Supply Capacity is required (the maximum quantity of gas you are permitted to use per day or per hour, as determined by the gas transporter).
- For very high gas consumption, some premises may be supplied on an interruptible basis (where your gas supply can be interrupted on a pre-agreed notice). If you have such a site, it is very important that you provide your new gas supplier with emergency contact details for these premises, in accordance with Gas Safety Management Regulations.
- Emergency contact details will also be required for sites consuming over 25k therms. Your new supplier will be able to give you more information about what contact details must be provided.
- Details of the arrangements in place for meter(s) and meter reading(s). Usually the supplier will arrange these services for the customer. However, some customers arrange these services themselves, and it is important that you notify suppliers if this is the case for any of your premises. One of the key pieces of meter information is where it is located within the property.
- If you qualify for any VAT or Climate Change Levy exemptions or reductions - you will have to provide copies of these forms to your new supplier, and in some cases complete a new VAT declaration.
- A copy of your last bill, this can be extremely helpful.
- There is a facility for gas customers to monitor much of the above data for most of their sites. For more information, visit XO Serve. It is anticipated that future industry developments will provide an equivalent or similar service for all non-domestic electricity customers.
The change of energy supplier rocess should operate smoothly, but you can help by being able to provide accurate information to your supplier, particularly the following:
- The amount of energy you use on an annual basis.
- The terms of the contract you have with your existing supplier, such as termination notices and contract end dates. As well as this it also helps to have the metering service provider, referred to as the meter operator, if applicable.
- Details of the premises you own/occupy, including the supply number(s) and any special metering arrangements you have, such as associated meters.
- Your current supplier should be able to help you with this information if you do not have it. Generally, any queries you may have about the process should be raised with the company facilitating the switch.
This is the estimate that you are presenting to your supplier on what you will consume on an annual basis when you sign a new contract. This figure is usually stipulated in the new contract and will be used by the upplier as a basis to purchase the electricity on the wholesale market to cover your demand.
It is important that you get this figure as accurate as possible as some suppliers might inflict a penalty charge if your actualy demand deviates significantly from the estimate you provided.
The best place to get this figure is from previous monthly or quarterly invoices from your current supplier. If you are still in doubt, please contact your supplier directly and ask them to provide the data.What is my Estimated Annual Gas Quantity?
The importance of ensuring that your gas Annual Quantity (the quantity which National Grid records as your annual consumption) is checked annually and that it is reasonable in relation to actual meter readings. If you are in doubt about anything in the contract then ask your supplier to explain it before signing.How long does it take to switch supplier?
The change f supplier process should take about four to six weeks. The Energy Advice Line wil advise you of the expected timescales and key elements of the process.
Your new and current supplier will be transferring important site and metering information between each other, and their metering service providers. If data misatches occur, this can prevent a successful transfer or lead to delays. The Energy Advice Line may contact you during this period to clarify details or arrange a visit to the premises.
In order to help ensure that the process runs smoothly, it is recommended that you do not change meters leading up to a transfer, as this increases the risk of a delay or complications.What is your renewal offer?
Your current supplier will write to you at some stage prior to the end of your supply contract quoting a renewal price. This is something that you must not ignore as the price will most of the time be much higher than a price another supplier might offer you as a new customer.
This discriminatory tactic is employed by your current supplier in the hoe that you will not take any notice of the offer and they can lock you in for a further contract period on very high prices.What you should do when you receive your renewal offer.
As soon as you receive your renewal offer you should compare the rates being quoted with other rates on the market. This might appear to be a lot of work for little money saved, but exerience has proved that significant sums of money can be saved if you research the market and obtain competitive offers for your business energy.What happens if my renewal offer does not arrive?
You should contact your current suppliers and ask them for your renewal offer. You would be advised to consider your options and request a renewal from your current suppliers three months before the end of your current contract period. Do not accept any excuses from your current supplier because they will be able to provide you with a renewal offer at least three months before the end of the contract period.What is a supply contract?
This is the binding contract for a secific duration of time between the supplier and the customer. There will be obligations for both parties, however the contract will be slanted in the suppliers favour and this needs to be fully appreciated and understood by the customers before they accept it.
Please note that there is no cooling off period for business customers if you enter into a contract with a supplier. It is therefore very important that you consider all of your options to make the most informed decision before enetering into a contract.Do I have a supply contract?
Yes, as a business customer you have to have a supply contract in place with a supply company in order to remain connected to the system and receive a supply of gas and electrcity.What type of contract am I on?
You will need to ask your current supplier if you are unsure of what type of contract your are currently on.
Generally there have been three types of contract that have been offered to the small and medium sized enterprises in the UK, fixed term, evergreen and tariff. All of the contracts will have different clauses and must be fully appreciated and understood by you, the customer, before you make any future decisions on your energy needs.What type of contract should I accept?
You will need to make sure that yo uare aware of the terms and conditions of the contract you are about to accept. Please note that some longer-term contracts might have a clause where the supplier can vary your prices to reflect ussues suc as future rises in the wholesale market. Please check with the company selling you the contract. If you want a fixed price contract, please stipulate this at the beginning of the negotation. Rising energy costs are at the moment prompting many customers into choosing fixed price contracts so that they are confident that they are protected from any future rises.What type of contract should I accept?
You will need to make sure that yo uare aware of the terms and conditions of the contract you are about to accept. Please note that some longer-term contracts might have a clause where the supplier can vary your prices to reflect ussues suc as future rises in the wholesale market. Please check with the company selling you the contract. If you want a fixed price contract, please stipulate this at the beginning of the negotation. Rising energy costs are at the moment prompting many customers into choosing fixed price contracts so that they are confident that they are protected from any future rises.What is the Contract Duration, or Contract Period?
This is the duration of time usually anywhere between 12, 36 or 48 months where the customer and the supplier are bound by the terms of the supply contract.What is a Contract Termination Notice?
Most business supply contracts ask for what is referred to as a termination notice. This can be anywhere between 28 days and three months.
This notice of termination will need to be served within the required notice before the end of the contract duration, referred t as the Contract Expiry or Renewal Date. You, as the client, need to proactively terminate your contract to avoid being rolled over onto prices detailed in the renewal notice sent by the supplier. Please be wanred that some suppliers do not have to send a renewal notice before they roll you over onto what are usually much higher rates for another 12 to 24 months - so you need to act NOW!
To avoid the contract roll-over tactic, please click here and complete a termination notice online. Follow the onscreen instructions and mail to your current supplier by recorded delivery as soon as possible - this way you have a record of their receipt.
If you require any further information or advice on terminating your current contract please do not hesitate to contact the Energy Advice Line on 01202 025 399 (local rate).What is a Contract Period End Date?
This is the date that your current contract period expires. If you are on a fixed price, fixed term contract, the prices detailed in your contract will no longer be avilable. If you do not sign a new contract with a supplier, you will be placed on what is called a Deemed Acceptance Contract by your current supplier. Please refer to 'What is a Deemed Acceted Contract'.What is a Deemed Accepted Contract?
The prices on a Deemed Accepted Contract are considerably higher than contracts of a longer term contract, given that your suppliers buying or trading position will be subjected to short term pricing, which is more costly. This contract does not require a signature from you to form the acceptance.
This is the last resort contract procedure if you have reviously been on a Fixed Term Contract, and a supplier should give you plenty of notice and remind you that it would be in your best interest to sign a longer term Fixed Price Contract. Please note that a Contract Termination Notice of up to three months can still apply on a Deemed Contract.What is an Evergreen Contract?
An 'Evergreen', or 'Roll Over', contract will automatically renew if you do not serve the correct termination notice within the time stipulated by your current supplier.
Your current supplier will notify you of the rates you are being placed on for the new contract duration, which can be significantly above the market retail price, and the contract termination requirement shortly before contract roll over. However, it firmly rests on your shoulders to serve contract termination notice and allow yourself the luxury of searching the market, get competitive offers and make the right decision in your own time. Please note that you can ask your supplier for an alternative contract offer as well.What is Half-Hourly Metered Data?
It charts your site's actual metered consumption in half hourly periods for every day of the year. It will be provided by your current supplier on a spreadsheet and will have 48 half hourly time periods across the top of the spreadsheet with the days and months of the year down the side.What is a Meter Operator?
The Meter Operator installs and maintains the site's metering equipment.What is a Data Aggregator?
The data aggregator retrieves the data from the data collector prior to sending to the Meter Point Administration Service (MPAS).What is the Wholesale Market?
Energy suppliers buy the energy they need to supply you on the wholesale market. As with any other wholesale market, prices will change, and from time to time the supplier will adjust it's customers' prices to take account of this. At the moment, the general trend in energy prices is upwards, but this may change in the future.What is the Energy Retail Price?
The retail price is the price that you pay for your energy. It includes the cost of the energy purchased on the wholesale market (this accounts for between 40% to 50% of the total price), as well as the costs associated with getting the energy to your premises. This added with their margin and the commission paid to an energy broker, if applicable, will be the price that you see.What is the Supply Start Date (SSD)?
There will probably be a gap between signing the contract and starting supply. This is because a new supplier will need to register itself as your supplier, and this process can take a little time, approximately 28 days.
What does your contract say about when your supply will start? If the supplier is not willing to promise that it will happen by a particular date, make sure that it is at least promising to do all it can (often called reasonable endeavours in the language of contracts) to start the supply quickly.
If you have not entered into a new supply contract in sufficient time for your supply start date to coincide with the exiry date of your current contract. You may be charged by your old supplier at 'out of contract' deemed rates until your new supply contract is signed. These rates will usually be higher than your contracted rate.Should I take a meter reading on or around the Supply Start Date?
Obtaining a correct meter reading, on or close to the transfer date, is key to a successful change of supplier process, as this will form the basis of your final bill from your current supplier, and the opening bill from your new supplier. If a reading cannot be obtained, an estimated reading, based on previous read history, will have to be used. This reading is referred to as a deemed reading.
The new supplier may obtain an actual reading by arranging a visit by their appointed meter reading agent, commonly referred to as a 'Data Collector'.
If there are any particular access issues with your premises, you should endeavour to provide as much information as is necessary to ensure the meter can be accessed. This should include where the meter is located, and any access requirements, such as keys and step ladders for meter cupboards. If this information is not given, a data collector could visit the site but not be in a position to read the meter.
If you consume significant amounts of gas or electricity, and have Daily Metered Gas or Half Hourly Electricity meters, the reading will be provided to your suppliers automatically.Should I read my own meter throughout the contract?
Although the supplier should arrange for a data collector to come to your premises and read the meter, if would be beneficial if you could also arrange for the meters to be read approximately every three months if possible. This reading frequency will enhance the accuracy of your bills. Please also keep a copy of all the reads, and the dates the meter was read for your own records and to compare with the suppliers bill.Who reads my meter?
The Data Collector will read your meter(s) by way of a visit (in and around the start supply date and frequently there afterwards in accordance with your supplier's instructions), or remotely in the case of all Half Hourly metered sites.What payment terms should I choose?
It is up to you, but you will need to check before you accept the contract what payment terms are stipulated. Options such as payment by Direct Debit, variable in arrears or by fixed monthly amount are common, as well as payment by cheque or electronic bank transfer in arrears on receipt of the suppliers invoice is also another option offered.
Please note that most suppliers offer you their best prices if you choose to pay by Direct Debit by way of a fixed monthly amount.Do suppliers ask for credit worthiness or security?
Some suppliers will require you to prove your credit or give a security deposit before you can take a supply.
Check whether the supplier will accept credit references rather than needing cash. If the supplier has to take a security deposit, make sure you know when you can get it back. Many suppliers will let you have the deposit back once you establish a record of being a good payer (for instance, twelve months of paying bills on time).
Check whether the supplier is going to pay interest on any deposit it holds, and how much. When you are entitled to get a security deposit back, ask for it and make sure that you get any interest that you are entitled to.What happens if I do not pay my energy supplier?
Business energy suppliers have a special legal right to cut-off premises when a customer does not pay them. This means that they can go to court to get a warrant to enter the premises and physically disconnect you. If you do get cut-off you may have to pay a substantial charge to be reconnected.
Make sure that you are familiar with your payment obligations and stick to them to that you can avoid this. If you think there is going to be any problem with making payment, advise the supplier in writing as soon as you can and try to reach an agreement on how to deal with it.
Like other businesses, energy suppliers will probably give themselves the right to issue late payment charges and to charge interest on late payments. The interest rate charged may vary between suppliers.What happens if you believe that your bill is not correct?
If you believe that your bill includes an error, raise the query formally with your supplier, do not simply fail to pau the bill.
Failure to pay the bill may result in disconnection. Amounts that are queried should be excluded from any late payment charges, but check with your supplier.What happens if I want to cancel my contract during the contract period?
The first thing that you need to ask yourself is what rights do you have to get out of the contract? Can you do so if the suplier is not doing what it promised (for instance, if bills are late or inaccurate)?
Contracts will often deal with this under the heading 'Termination or Cancellation'. This more right you have, the better. Make sure you are aware of them and use them when you want to. In most cases, suppliers' rights to get our of a contract will be greater than yours.
If you have some power to negotiate terms, try to make sure that these rights are also available to you. It will help you to make sure you get a better service if the supplier thinks that you can go somewhere else if they are not performing.What can happen if your current supplier has a contract clause about "choosing to match your best offer"?
The way these work is as follows; the supplier requires you to send it any quotes you have got from alternative suppliers, and then has the right to supply you at the same time as your best quote, in which case the contract will continue and you have to stay with the supplier.
This is great news for the supplier because, even if it chooses not to match the best quote, it gets lots of useful information about it's competitors' prices. It has the opportunity to tie you into a contract you might prefer to get out of.
Remember, you may want to change suppliers for reasons other than price (for instance, because you have had bad service). Having the option to have your current supplier match your best quote is one thing - having no choice about it is something completely different.What is Value Added Tax (VAT)?
VAT is applied at the standard rate of 20% to the subtotal of your contract charges.What is Climate Change Levy (CCL)?
The CCL came into force in April 2001 and is a government imposed taxation, which all energy suppliers have the responsibility of collecting from their customers. The money collected will go towards the government meeting their targets on energy efficiency and renewable resources.How will I find out if I am exemt from CCL?
Customs & Excise will be able to provide you with this information. You can call them on 0845 010 9000.Who are OFGEM?
OFGEM is the regulator for the gas and electricity industries. Since 1999, OFGEM has taken steps to open up the energy markets and ensure fair competition between suppliers.Who are Energywatch?
Energywatch are the independent watchdog for gas and electricity customers in the UK. Financed by the Department of Trade & Industry, Energywatch offers information, support and advice for consumers in dealing with gas and electricity suppliers.