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Trickiest energy companies to leave

A record 5.5 million people switched electricity supplier last year, but not every switch goes smoothly. We’ve dug deep into our research of more than 8,000 energy customers, so we reveal the companies it’s hardest – and easiest – to leave. Co-operative Energy, First Utility, GB Energy and Ovo Energy are the trickiest of 11 big energy firms to leave*.

At least 6% of customers switching away from them said they found it difficult or very difficult. Read on to find out which is the trickiest transfer overall and what the most common problems were. Plus, check out our expert tips to make sure your switch is hassle free.

If you’re planning to switch, compare gas and electricity prices[1] with Which? Switch to make sure you get a good deal.

Most difficult energy companies to leave

Overall, the trickiest transfer was from EDF Energy[2] to Npower[3]. A fifth of customers who made this switch rated it difficult or very difficult.

British Gas[4] or Eon[5] to Npower were the next trickiest switches (8% and 9% found it difficult to move between these firms, respectively). We can work this out because our survey asks which company respondents switched away from and the company they moved to. We can’t tell which company caused the problems, so keep reading to find out how you can help make sure your own switch goes smoothly.

Our survey also reveals the best and worst energy companies, according to their customers. This year, we have ratings for 31 gas and electricity companies in Great Britain and all six Northern Ireland energy firms[6]. You can use our results to help you pick the right energy firm for you – see the best and worst energy firms[7].

Easiest energy firms to leave

The big companies customers found easiest to leave were Sainsbury’s Energy[8] and SSE[9] – 92% or more of those who left them found it easy or very easy.

Switching from British Gas to First Utility[10] was rated the easiest switch overall, with 97% saying it was easy or very easy.

Why is switching energy firm difficult?

The switch being slow is the most common reason people give to explain why they said they found the process difficult.

Financial factors, including trouble getting a refund from the previous supplier and difficulty paying the previous supplier, are also common explanations. Don’t let this put you off switching, though. Depending on which energy firm you’re with, you could save more than GBP300 a year by switching your supplier.

How to switch energy supplier hassle-free

Follow our tips to help your switch go as smoothly as possible:

  • Use your actual energy use (in kWh) to get the most accurate quote when you compare energy prices.

    You can find this on your annual statement or latest bill.

  • Pick a company signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee for a speedier switch – these companies promise to complete your move within 21 days. Find out which firms are signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee[11].
  • Submit meter readings to your old and new energy suppliers to keep your bills accurate.
  • If you’re in debt, arrange with your old supplier how you will pay (if you pay by direct debit it may be able to take the amount owing automatically).

For more tips, check our advice on how to switch energy supplier[12].

Which? energy companies research

We carried out an online survey of 8,397 GB energy customers in September 2017. *Only companies with at least 30 respondents who had switched away from them are included in this analysis.

Sample sizes: British Gas (616), Co-operative Energy (48), Eon (543), EDF Energy (300), First Utility (178), GB Energy Supply (31), Npower (347), Ovo Energy (107), Sainsbury’s Energy (130), Scottish Power (295) and SSE (288).


  1. ^ compare gas and electricity prices (
  2. ^ EDF Energy (
  3. ^ Npower (
  4. ^ British Gas (
  5. ^ Eon (
  6. ^ Northern Ireland energy firms (
  7. ^ best and worst energy firms (
  8. ^ Sainsbury’s Energy (
  9. ^ SSE (
  10. ^ First Utility (
  11. ^ Energy Switch Guarantee (
  12. ^ how to switch energy supplier (

Top five cheapest energy deals for March 2018

The ‘Beast from the East’ has departed, after plunging us into some of the coldest March temperatures on record. If you cranked up your heating against the chill, check the cheap energy deals below to help keep your bills down. Eon customers should also look for a cheaper deal, after the firm announced plans to scrap two of its money-saving initiatives and increase its standing charge.

The cheapest duel-fuel energy tariff on the market now could save you up to GBP359 over a year, compared with the priciest Big Six standard tariff. Eon customers on its standard tariff could save up to GBP347 per year by switching to the cheapest deal. Read on to find out the cheapest energy deal.

Then use our independent service, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices[1]. If you’d prefer, call us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.

Cheapest gas and electricity deals for March

Small energy firms Outfox the Market and Usio Energy Supply offer the cheapest deals this month.

Switch from the priciest Big Six[2] supplier and you could save around GBP359 per year. Below, we’ve listed the five cheapest dual-fuel energy deals for medium users this month. Use them as a quick hack to help you save money.

Then read on to find out more about the firms behind them. First, we’ve given the price of the tariff for a year*. Then we’ve calculated how much you would save compared with British Gas[3] and Npower[4]‘s standard variable tariffs.

We chose these because they’re respectively the cheapest and priciest of the Big Six energy companies’ standard tariffs.

  1. GBP807 Outfox the Market Zapp! December Tariff Medium – paperless. Variable tariff with no exit fees. GBP359 saving from Npower, GBP295 saving from British Gas.[5]
  2. GBP816 Outfox the Market Whack!

    January Tariff Medium – paperless. Fixed tariff for 18 months with GBP50 exit fee per fuel. GBP350 saving from Npower, GBP286 saving from British Gas.

  3. GBP826 Usio Energy Supply Lite 0.1 – paperless. One year variable tariff with no exit fees. GBP340 saving from Npower, GBP276 saving from British Gas.[6]
  4. GBP826 Usio Energy Supply Home After 7pm Green 0.5 – paperless.

    Variable tariff for smart meter customers only, with no exit fees. GBP340 saving from Npower, GBP276 saving from British Gas.

  5. GBP831 Breeze Energy Fixed Saver 2018 – paperless. Fixed tariff for one year with no exit fees. GBP335 saving from Npower, GBP270 saving from British Gas.[7]

Outfox the Market, Usio Energy Supply and Breeze Energy – are they any good?

The cheapest energy deals this month come from energy suppliers which are too small for us to rate in our annual best and worst energy companies[8] survey. Read on to find out more about them, to help you choose whether you should switch.

Outfox the Market

Outfox the Market has the cheapest dual-fuel deal for medium users for the second month running.

It’s a small energy company with a cartoon fox as its logo. Outfox the Market says it sells 100% renewable electricity to customers at wholesale prices. Its pricing structure is unusual, though – customers pay a monthly ‘energy hero club’ membership fee and then pay for each unit of energy used on top of this.

The monthly fee varies, depending on whether you’re a low (GBP6.99), medium (GBP8.99), high (GBP10.99) or very high (GBP13.99) user.

Usio Energy Supply

Usio Energy Supply launched in autumn 2017 and says it buys energy in 30-minute intervals to match customers’ energy usage. Most of its tariffs require a smart meter[9] and are designed to suit different lifestyles.

For example, Usio’s Home After 7pm tariff is ‘designed for customers that use most of their energy in the evenings, with cheaper energy bought for them at these times’, it says.

Breeze Energy

Breeze Energy is based in north-east England and begun by only offering tariffs to customers there. Now it will supply customers in almost all regions (except north Scotland). It says it aims to reduce energy use and gives customers tips to do this.

But if you’re looking for ‘greener’ electricity, Breeze sources more of its electricity from coal (13.5%) than the UK average (8.5%). It also sources more of its electricity from renewables (29.4%) than the average across Great Britain (24.2%), though.

Energy companies in the news

Eon announced changes which will increase bills[10] for customers on its standard variable tariff last week. Dual-fuel and paperless discounts worth GBP30 will disappear from 19 April.

The standing charge for customers paying by cash or cheque will increase by GBP20 per year. While this wasn’t a strict price rise, affected customers’ bills will increase. Utilita[11] and Bulb Energy[12] did raise their energy prices, however:

  • Prepayment meter specialist Utilita’s increase will add GBP41 per year to customers’ bills from 1 April.
  • Small company Bulb Energy will up its prices by 2.8% (GBP24 per year) from 28 April.

Meanwhile, new legislation to cap energy prices[13] is being discussed by Parliament.

This will limit the amount companies can charge those on standard and default energy tariffs. If implemented, around 11 million customers would benefit and collectively save GBP1.4bn per year, the government says. Energy regulator Ofgem will set the cap.

It will consult on its plans over the next few months and decide the level of the cap in the autumn.

Our energy pricing research

*Prices are based on a dual-fuel tariff available in all regions in England, Scotland and Wales for an average user (using Ofgem averages of 3,100kWh of electricity and 12,000kWh of gas per year), paying by monthly direct debit, with paperless bills.

Data is from Energylinx.

Prices given are averages across regions, are rounded to the nearest whole pound and correct on 5 March 2018.


  1. ^ compare gas and electricity prices (
  2. ^ Big Six (
  3. ^ British Gas (
  4. ^ Npower (
  5. ^ Outfox the Market (
  6. ^ Usio Energy Supply (
  7. ^ Breeze Energy (
  8. ^ best and worst energy companies (
  9. ^ smart meter (
  10. ^ Eon announced changes which will increase bills (
  11. ^ Utilita (
  12. ^ Bulb Energy (
  13. ^ new legislation to cap energy prices (

Energy firms to be banned from back-billing

Your energy company will no longer be able to back-bill you for gas and electricity you used more than a year ago, under new rules from the energy regulator. Coming into force in May, Ofgem’s rules will stop customers receiving ‘shock bills’ when they haven’t been correctly billed for energy used more than 12 months ago. It says these bills are typically as much as GBP1,160, putting some customers into financial difficulty.

Many energy firms are already signed up to a voluntary agreement that they won’t bill customers for energy used longer than 12 months ago. But not all suppliers are signed up to this and some don’t abide by the rules. If you’re struggling to pay for gas and electricity, talk to your energy supplier, and compare gas and electricity prices[1] to find a cheaper deal.

What are energy back-bills?

Also called catch-up bills, there are two reasons why you might receive a back-bill.

  1. Your energy company has had a problem with its billing system.
  2. Your energy company has been estimating your energy usage and received a meter reading showing you’ve used more gas and electricity than it expected.

In either of these cases, until the ban is in place, suppliers can then send you a catch-up bill for the difference.

However, there’s already a voluntary agreement to help protect energy customers from back-bills older than 12 months. Under this, many energy firms have already pledged not to bill their customers where it’s the fault of the company. But Ofgem says not all suppliers are signed up, and those which are signed up don’t always follow the agreement.

Why you might still receive a back-bill

From May 2018, energy firms can no longer demand customers pay for gas and electricity they’ve used more than 12 months before when an incorrect bill is not the customer’s fault.

This should mean you don’t get an unexpected bill for energy used a long time ago. But you can still be issued with a bill for energy used more than a year ago if you prevent your supplier from taking or receiving accurate meter readings. For example if you physically block access to a meter, tamper with your meter, or have stolen energy.

You will also still have to pay a back-bill if your energy supplier has billed you correctly. Forgetting to submit meter readings doesn’t count as preventing your supplier from getting accurate meter readings, Ofgem confirmed. But sending regular meter readings to your energy firm will help it bill you only for the energy you’ve used.

Smart meters submit readings automatically to your energy supplier, so should help make sure you’re billed accurately. But the roll-out, due to be completed by 2020, has had many delays. Take a look at our guide to the smart meter roll-out[2] to discover more.

Which? says

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘Receiving a back-dated energy bill of hundreds or even thousands of pounds is a real blow for consumers, particularly those who are already struggling with their bills.

‘This ban won’t come into effect until May, so anyone worried about sky-high bills should look to switch supplier now.’


  1. ^ compare gas and electricity prices (
  2. ^ smart meter roll-out (

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