/ Home & Energy

Are renters missing out when it comes to switching?

Energy bills

For too long, renters have felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t switch energy providers. Saving money on household utilities isn’t just reserved for homeowners. A new Which? Switch feature helps renters see how much they could save by switching.

Until recently, I’ve been known as a serial mover. Last year alone I lived in four different flats, all over London. This isn’t because I’m a terrible housemate, quite the opposite. Past housemates, friends and even my girlfriend will tell you that much. After all, it’s impossible to tear me away from the sink, my moussakas are second to none and that I know my way around a vacuum cleaner.

This may not be the experience of many Londoners but as a renter, moving can be part and parcel of living and working in the city. And with moving, comes changing utilities and services like your energy provider.

Switching and saving

I consider myself to be fairly switched on (get it?) when it comes to saving money on household bills. That said, the first time I actually switched energy companies was back in May this year. I moved in with my girlfriend and found that we were on British Gas’ pricey standard variable tariff.

Incredibly there was some resistance from my landlord when I mentioned switching. Determined to save my own money I pushed back on the owner’s suggestions that it would be a lot of hassle and would take up some of time and I went ahead and switched. Now we’re with Solarplicity, a much smaller energy provider, using 100% renewable electricity and making a saving of around £240 a year.

Like a good employee, I switched using Which? Switch. We found it extremely easy to use – taking what little hassle there is in the switching process, out. All in all we must’ve spent no more than ten minutes filling in a handful of fields on my laptop.

Which? Switch for renters

To make life even easier for renters, we’ve launched a new energy switching service specifically for non-homeowners. The new renters option within Which? Switch lets you see what savings you could make based on the length of your tenancy, rather than a year’s fixed deal.

We believe around 4.5 million private sector rented households could be missing out on big energy savings. Like me, these people may think the best deals aren’t available to them – particularly if they don’t know whether they will be in the same property in a year – and so may be put off the cheaper fixed tariffs on offer.

In our annual energy satisfaction survey. In it, we reveal that a quarter of renters who took part have always been with their current supplier. More than half also told us they have been with their current supplier for more than five years. Of the renters we spoke to, they’re most likely to be with the Big Six (54%).

Separate research shows the vast majority of renters are aware of switching websites, but only half have ever used them before. Three in ten renters don’t think they can save money by switching. What they perhaps don’t know is they could potentially be missing out on savings of £350 on average over a year by switching from the most expensive standard variable tariff to the cheapest deal on the market.

Quick and easy energy switching

My colleague Katie was one of the first to use the tool as a renter. She switched from OVO’s standard variable tariff to First Utility’s Smart First tariff saving herself £130 a year.

If you’re a renter or know someone who is, head over to the Which? Switch site and find out how much you could save.

Which? Switch

What have been your experiences switching energy providers as a renter? Have you faced any problems?


Tenants who directly pay for their energy have the right to switch supplier.


This would have surely been worth referencing in the introduction to help tenants? It is not correct to say “Saving money on household utilities should not be reserved for homeowners.” is it? If not, perhaps the intro could be put right.

Perhaps you mean where landlords pay the energy bills? There is protection for tenants given in https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/74486/11782-resaleupdateoct05.pdf which essentially says for most you cannot be charged more than the tariff the landlord has to pay.

Flat dwellers in Edinburgh tenements now have to pay for their own electricity for stair lighting. It isn’t quite renting, but is kind of similar for us as we have factors where I stay. I will try to get them to switch to the new energy company I mention below. You (everybody) may want to wish me luck.

PS: I hope ?Which will include this company in their ?Which Switch system!

You will have heard that Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a couple of days ago that “the Scottish government is to set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company by 2021. She said that the company will sell energy to customers at “as close to cost price as possible” and would give people, particularly on low incomes, more choice of which supplier to use.” (BBC News, 10/10/17)

Welcome ethical news as far as I’m concerned, responding to a certain mood to nationalise services. I hope it b****y (pardon the passion) works, first and foremost to help people, and secondly because I remain convinced that the privatised system that we have at the moment is unfair and works for far too few people. Unfair because it demands savvy, or inclination, or technological means, or knowledge, or people to help you, or all of the above. Too many of us have none of the above.

I hope very many of these people will simply turn to our publicly-owned energy company, find that it works for them, and have one less worry on their minds.

Benevolent nationalisation? It’s a nice idea. Welsh Water is a similar organisation in Wales.

Providing such enterprises properly cost their administrations and don’t hide costs off the balance sheet, |I’m all in favour. If we remember that there are inescapable costs – wholesale energy, network, government levies and vat, that leaves around 21% of a typical bill to play with.

A true cooperative with consumers owning the company is another way that avoids the whiff of state subsidy.

But this Convo is specifically to do with tenants. Other comments might best be moved to the “Update: will the proposed energy price cap be enough?” Convo?.

Fair point re the convo having to do with tenants. I will post what I said in the Update convo and watch it getting buried in the hundreds of other comments. :o)

I like the idea of a true co-operative, but disagree with “whiff” of state subsidy, which I find unnecessarily sweeping and dismissive. Another convo too! ;o)

Soiphie, the reason I mention state subsidy is because I am not clear where the money for a cap, if it is below the normal market price, is coming from. I am concerned that government may use public funds to support a political initiative.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan: your posts are only appearing ‘at the bottom of convos’ because you use the “Join the debate” box and not the ‘Reply button” appended to previous comments. The Reply button places the subsequent comment in a thread – my personal Bete Noir, frankly – and these threads become so protracted they lose all coherence. They rapidly grow in length to several pages, so any sort of coherence chronologically speaking is doomed.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Well – it seems to have worked 🙂

On your screen in here you should see my post, now. At the bottom ERH side there’s an orange / red ‘Reply’ button. If you use that to frame a response it should be inserted into the existing thread (which I loathe but that’s another matter…).

At the bottom of the page you should see a box with Join the Debate in large letters. That starts a new thread. If one of those is missing then it’s possibly down to one of the many privacy extensions you add to your browsers.

Yesterday, I discovered that my version of FF wasn’t displaying some sites properly; it was (in essence) rejecting the CSS. I traced that to ‘Privacy Badger’ and, once disabled, everything worked wonderfully. So it might be down to something like that.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The obsession with cheapness of price all the time is irritating. People aren’t just money-poor they are time-poor and everybody should take care that they don’t choose a company that they will spend half their life trying to contact and communicate with. There are some real horrors out there.

Anyone who has to deal with the public in any way quickly learns that many people are very ignorant ,stupid thick etc. How some even find their way home sometimes amazes me

@dsamways, Dean I note that the misleading introduction has not been changed yet “For too long, renters have been forgotten when it comes to switching energy bills. Saving money on household utilities should not be reserved for homeowners. See your post 13th October. 🙁

@dsamways, thanks Dean 🙂

@dsamways, thanks Dean!

I was thinking of switching to Octopus but a couple of things in their Terms & Conditions (what’s the difference?) have put me off. The first is that they only specify payment by direct debit. Customer service emails say I can switch to paying on receipt of the bill once I’m signed up, but the T’s and C’s don’t mention that at all.

The second is this bit:

“If you do not have a Smart Meter at your Premises, we may install one for you. We
will arrange an appointment with you for installation. If you repeatedly refuse to allow us
to install a Smart Meter, we reserve the right to transfer you onto a tariff for non-Smart
Meter usage, which may be more expensive. We will give you 14 days’ notice of such

This comment was removed at the request of the user

“Smart meters will be rolled out as standard across the country by the end of 2020. But there is no legal obligation on you to have one.” This is from the government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/smart-meters-how-they-work

This seems to be rather heavy-handed and I wonder if there are other companies that make the same demand.

@gmartin. Hi George. Please could you ask someone to comment on this, since Octopus is now a recommended supplier.

I rent my flat and have done for the last 9 years, I have a large flat built in 60,s no insulation only 2 storage heaters to heat whole flat 1 in large sitting room 1 in hallway my bedroom is a large double spare room small double sepp toilet /bathroom large with fan wall heater large kitchen I am at a loss to know how to heat my home I recently changed suppliers I was paying £99 by DD and they charge me £172 per month and I dont have any heat on yet plus they charge 5% to advance their business i am 69 a chronic Asthmatic with severe Arthritis I love where I live 5 min from the sea my flat is on 2nd floor corner position lovely in summer fridge in winter. but Iget so cold inthe winter now my Electriclty has doubled in1 year I am so worried. I cant afford to put heat on this winter
Any ideas greatly received.