When is the best time to switch business energy supplier?

Energy prices are always changing, and the timing of your energy switch can make a big difference to the rates you pay. The trouble is, the terms of commercial energy contracts mean you can’t actually change energy suppliers until your current contract has come to an end. 

But that doesn’t mean your contract’s end date should completely dictate when you switch, and you should run an energy price comparison as soon as your switching window opens. 

Confused? Our Bionic guide explains everything you need to know.

When should you switch business energy supplier?

There’s never really a bad time to switch energy suppliers - what business owner doesn’t want an easy way to cut their overheads? - but, when it comes to commercial gas and electricity, there’s actually a limited timeframe in which you can compare deals and make the change.

If you’re in the market for a new energy deal, the first thing you need to do is find out when your switching window opens.

When your switching window opens

A switching window is simply a designated time frame during which you can compare business energy deals and sign up to a new one. 

The length of your switching window will depend upon the supplier you’re with and the type of energy deal you’re on, but it usually starts between one and six months before your current deal is due to expire. 

Don’t worry if you’re unsure when your current contract is up, your supplier will write to let you know your deal’s end date. Any correspondence will also include your supplier’s renewal offer - the rates you’re offered at this point are unlikely to be among the most competitive, so you should always compare what else is on offer before signing up for another deal.

Once your current deal enters its switching window, you can get in touch with Bionic’s tech-enabled experts to compare deals and negotiate exclusive rates on your behalf. Although you can’t actually switch at this point, you can agree to a new deal and lock in your rates to help avoid any price hikes. This means your new deal will take effect as soon as your old one ends, and you can avoid being rolled over onto your supplier’s more expensive out of contract rates.

A word of warning though - try not to rely on your supplier getting in touch to let you know your contract is coming to an end, as some simply won’t bother, preferring instead to roll you on to their expensive out of contract rates. Switching with Bionic is the simplest way to make sure this doesn’t happen, as our energy experts will keep an eye on your contract’s end date and proactively search for a better deal in time for your switching window opening.

Here’s how it works:

  1. We’ll email you to confirm your details, before searching for the best deals.
  2. We'll share up to 3 quotes* for you to choose from. If you agree with our recommended option, simply sit back, relax and we'll sort your switch.
  3. We’ll confirm the details of your next contract when we’ve secured your chosen quote.

For more information, leave your postcode in the box on the right, or give our tech-enabled team a call on 0800 327 7384.

*The number of quotes we send is subject to change, depending upon circumstances.

When you’ve moved into a new business premises

Although switching to a better business energy deal probably won’t be top of your priorities when moving your business into a new property, it’s something you need to sort at the first opportunity. This is because all businesses are placed onto a contract known as ‘deemed rates’ when they move into a new place, and these rates are always more expensive than any you’ll find on a negotiated deal.

The good news is that you can switch business energy suppliers at any time if you’re on deemed rates, without any notice period and with no termination fees. If you’ve recently moved into a new property, check out our guide to moving business premises.

As soon as practicably possible

Energy prices are always changing, but very rarely drop - although we saw a drop in prices during the lockdown, this bottomed out at the end of July and prices have been on the rise ever since.

You might think it’s not worth comparing deals as soon as your switching window opens, simply because you won’t benefit from your new rates until your current contract ends and your new one takes over. 

But that couldn’t be further from the truth - signing up to a new deal at the earliest possible opportunity means you can lock in your rates and avoid any price hikes. This is especially important if you have a long switching window, as prices can increase quite significantly over a six-month period. 

Are switching rules different if you run a micro business?

If you run a microbusiness, things are slightly different and you have a bit more time and flexibility when it comes to changing your supplier. 

Ofgem rules state that micro businesses need to give their supplier just 30 days' notice before switching. The regulator also states that 60 days before a fixed-term contract ends, your supplier must also get in touch to let you know how much energy you use each year, along with details on how the price of your current deal compares with the new contract prices it’s offering.

If your energy bills are less than £1,000 a month, you’ll most likely be classed as a micro-business, but Ofgem defines a micro business as one that meets at least one of the following:

  • Employs fewer than 10 employees (or their full-time equivalent) and has an annual turnover or balance sheet no greater than €2 million; or
  • Uses no more than 100,000 kWh of electricity per year; or
  • Uses no more than 293,000 kWh of gas per year.

For more information, leave your postcode in the box on the right, or give our tech-enabled team a call on 0800 327 7384.

Can your business energy supplier stop your switch?

Your supplier does have the right to block your switch, but only in the following specific circumstances:  

  • If you are in debt with your supplier. If you owe more than £500 for gas or £500 for electricity, your supplier can block your switch until the debt has been repaid.
  • If your current fixed-term contract hasn’t ended. Once you sign up to a business energy deal, you can’t switch to a new deal until this one has expired. Even so, you can compare deals as soon as your switching window is open.

Your supplier can’t block your switch if your contract has ended, or if it’s going to end and you’ve given notice during your switching window. It also can’t block your switch if you're on a deemed contract.

How to switch business energy supplier

Now you know the best time to switch energy suppliers, it’s worth bearing in mind that the quickest and simplest way to change business electricity supplier or switch business gas provider is to let Bionic’s tech-enabled team do the hard work.

One quick call to us is all it takes to have our experts search for the best deals from our panel of trusted suppliers, and negotiate exclusive rates - saving you time and money that can be put back into your business.

To see how much you could save, put your postcode in the box on the right, or give our tech-enabled team a call on 0800 327 7384.