Energy cooling-off periods explained

Your right to change your mind after switching explained

When you switch energy provider or tariff, you are entitled to change your mind for a two-week period without incurring any penalties.

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It's important to compare gas, electricity or dual-fuel deals whenever your existing contract is up for renewal. This ensures you will be able to access competitive rates and have the option to switch to a cheaper deal.

Why switch energy tariff

Comparing energy tariffs and gas or electricity suppliers regularly puts you in an advantageous position so that you are ready to make a switch when your contract allows.

This is particularly important when your contract is coming to an end. If you don't switch, your existing provider could automatically enroll you on to a new contract and switch you to a default rate, which are typically much more expensive. By switching energy tariff, you avoid overpaying for gas or electricity.

However, even after you sign up for a new gas or electricity deal, you are entitled to change your mind and you have the right to cancel your new tariff without being charged.

Compare before you switch

Before you switch or renew your energy deal, it's best to do some research. When you compare energy deals with Utility Saving Expert, our free comparison tool provides important information about each provider and the terms of the contracts they offer.

You'll be able to quickly assess how energy suppliers rank by scanning the star ratings we display in our search results. This indicates customer satisfaction and supplier reputation, but you can also take this research a step further by looking at online forums for even more customer feedback if you feel you need more context.

Our results will also include important information relating to each contract, such as whether it uses renewable energy, whether there are fees for leaving a contract early, and other general information about the supplier that's important to know.

Even after doing your research and reading through the details in our comparison results, there could be for all sorts of reasons for changing your mind.

If you decide you no longer want to proceed with your new energy contract within the first 14 days after you switch, you can cancel without any problems. This is called the cooling-off period, during which you are completely free to change your mind and will not incur any charges or penalties if you do so.

The cooling-off period

Enforced by the energy industry regulator Ofgem, otherwise known by its full name, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, the cooling-off period refers to the time permitted for you to cancel an agreement without incurring a penalty.

You'll find the phrase 'cooling-off period' in the terms and conditions of many contracts, for example when you are shopping on a retail website or looking to purchase any goods or services that can be ordered online, over the phone or by mail. The statutory minimum for a cooling-off period is 14 days, and this is a legal requirement.

Ofgem writes that this regulation means suppliers must provide a "14 calendar day cooling off period for gas and electricity consumers. This cooling off period cannot be waived."

When you decide to switch energy supplier online, the cooling-down period begins from the moment the switch is confirmed. The cool-off time is usually 14 days and it won't be any less than this. You'll be able to read more about the cooling-off period of your specific deal and find exact timescale outlined in your new contract.

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Cancelling once the switching process has begun

When you change gas or electricity tariff, it usually takes about 21 days for the switching process to complete. This process begins during the cooling-off period, but you can rest assured that your statutory rights as a consumer are not affected by this. You can roll back the switching process at any time during the 14 days.

Your contract will be treated as terminated if you send a notice of cancellation at any time during the cooling off period. As long as it was sent during the 14-day cooling off period, your notice of cancellation will be valid even if it is received by the trader after the cooling-off period has expired, for example due to postal delays.

You can use the cooling-off period to think through your contract carefully to make sure you are completely confident you made the right choice. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Does this energy tariff offer the best price?
  • Does the cheapest price necessarily mean the best value for money?
  • Will the customer service provided by my new energy supplier be good enough?
  • Is my new energy firm reliable?
  • Are there any terms and conditions I'm not happy with?
  • Is there a better deal on the market now?

Two weeks may seem like ample time, but the cooling-down period will likely pass by quickly. If you have second thoughts about your new supplier or energy deal, it's best to act quickly and without delay to get your cancellation in motion, otherwise you risk missing out on the 14-day penalty-free timeframe available.

How to send a notice of cancellation

You can contact your supplier by phone to cancel. They may request your cancellation in writing too.

It's a good idea to make a note of any times and dates you make contact with your supplier, including what was covered in the calls and emails, and keep copies of any documents or letters you send.

You may need to provide these as evidence if you encounter any problems with your supplier and need to make a complaint.

If you are concerned you have been mis-sold your energy contract or if there is a problem with your cooling-off period, you can contact the energy ombudsman for advice. If you do not receive written notice of your cooling-off period, the contract may invalid and you could be entitled to receive compensation.

What happens after the cooling-down period

Once the 14-day cooling-off window has closed, you will usually have your energy supply switch completed within 21 days from the day you confirmed the switch. As long as you have not sent a notice of cancellation, everything is set to go ahead as normal.

You will be told the exact date of the switch by your new energy firm. On the day of the switch, you'll be asked to provide meter readings for your new and old supplier. This ensures that your first bill with your new deal and final bill for your old deal are both correct and that you are not overcharged.

After the cool-down period has come to an end, it is still possible to cancel your agreement. However, there may be a financial penalty and a notice period for cancelling your contract. Some energy suppliers will waive this, so it's worth asking them when you inform them you will be terminating the contract.

Once your new contract is coming to an end, you should compare and switch again. You'll be able to switch within the final 49 days of your contract without paying a fee. Much like during the cooling-off period, there are no financial penalties for this.