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Switching your business energy supplier

By Nicole Wilson

How to give notice to your supplier and navigate the switching process like a pro

Illustration of a chef switching his energy supplier on a pogo stick

Choosing a contract

Switching your business energy supplier should be as easy as switching suppliers at home. But the business energy landscape is busy and difficult to navigate. With thousands of tariffs on the market, there's no easy way to make sure you're getting the best deal.

It's tempting to sign up to a supplier and forget about energy bills while you're busy growing your business. That means lots of companies end up spending more than they need to, either because they're tied into an energy contract which lasts for years, or because they've simply forgotten to look at their options at the end of a fixed term.

A great deal a year ago might not look so sweet now. Some of the best tariffs on the market won't tie you into a contract at all, but switching to them means springing into action as soon as you're nearing the end of your existing agreement. It's time to get familiar with those T&Cs.

Switching suppliers during a fixed-term contract

If you are in the middle of a fixed-term contract with your existing supplier, it can cost you more to buy your way out than you would save by switching. Many business suppliers will charge an 'exit fee' for leaving during your fixed term.

This fee usually reflects the cost of energy for the length of time remaining on your contract, which can be anywhere from 28 days to 5 years. If this is the case, it might not be in your best interests to switch.

If you're with Bulb Business, you're not tied in for any fixed period, so you can shop around for a better deal at any time and we'll never charge you for leaving.

How long does switching suppliers take?

Once you've decided to change business energy suppliers, it takes 3-6 weeks on average for the switch to take place. That's because the process needs some action from suppliers behind the scenes.

If you're still in contract with your existing supplier, you need to keep your contract's end date in mind. That way, you'll be able to ask your new supplier to swoop in and take over your supply as soon as your current agreement ends. It's important to give your existing supplier notice that you're leaving. More on that in a bit.

Vet taking a meter reading

At Bulb, we're proud to offer one of the speediest switches in the market. It takes just 3 weeks to switch your business to green energy. We spend this time communicating with your existing supplier and joining the dots to make us responsible for your supply.

No matter who you're switching to, the whole process can be handled remotely, so there will be no interruption to your energy supply while your new provider completes the switch.

Just like switching your energy supplier at home, you'll need to take an up-to-date meter reading and pay any outstanding bills before you switch.

Giving notice at the end of your contract

Switching business energy suppliers is very similar to switching suppliers at home. The biggest difference is that domestic energy suppliers can handle the whole switch for you, which includes talking to your existing supplier on your behalf.

As a business, it's your responsibility to tell your old supplier that you're leaving within an agreed notice period (usually 30 days). This notice period is sometimes called a 'switching window.'

It's important to give your existing supplier notice for two reasons:

It'll save you money

Once a fixed-term contract comes to an end, many suppliers will put their customers on an expensive 'default' rate automatically. It's best to time your switch to coincide with the end of a fixed-term contract (if you have one) to avoid pesky default rates altogether.

It'll speed things up

Giving your supplier notice stops them from 'objecting' to your switch. We'll explain objections a bit later on in this guide. Objections aren't unique to the business energy market, but they tend to happen more often. An objection can slow down your switch, so it's important to tell your supplier that you’ve decided to leave.

If you're with Bulb, you don't need to worry about switching windows or default rates, because we don't have them. We believe businesses should be able to switch suppliers whenever they like.

Once you're past the end of your contract, and your business account has rolled onto a default rate, you can switch whenever you like. This is a consumer right protected by Ofgem. You'll still need to tell your supplier you’re leaving, though. Maybe they'll send flowers.

When do I need to give notice?

The notice period for your existing supplier is typically 30 days before your contract end date, but it could be 90 days or even longer. It's best to check your contract terms and conditions, which will tell you the end date for any fixed-term period you've agreed to.

Illustration of a small business owner on the phone

Some suppliers will accept notice over the phone. Some have an online form, and others request it in writing. We've put an email template and some useful contact details to help you give notice to your current supplier over on our Help Centre. 

If you're a Bulb Business member, you're not on a fixed-term contract so you can leave whenever you like and you don't need to give us notice.

All about objections

Your current energy supplier can object to your request to switch suppliers under certain circumstances. If this happens, your switch will be blocked until the supplier's objection has been lifted.

An objection might happen if:

  • your supplier believes you've broken one of the terms of your contract

  • you haven't given them enough notice that you’re leaving

  • you've been in debt to your supplier for longer than 28 days

  • the requested date of transfer falls before your contract has ended

  • your address has multiple meters, and they are not all being switched on the same day

An objection can take a few days to resolve so it will slow down your switch. Unfortunately, this happens more often in the business market because some suppliers jump at the chance to roll customers onto higher out-of-contract rates while an objection gets straightened out.

Your old supplier will tell us that they object when we register to take over your account. We need you to contact your old supplier directly to clear the objection before we can move on with your switch.

We'll send you an email to let you know if an objection has been raised, and your existing supplier should contact you to tell you which steps you need to take next.