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When and how can I change energy supplier?

Last updated on 5 December 2019

Whatever your type of contract (fixed-term or long-term), you can change energy suppliers at any time.

This change of supplier is carried out without any cancellation penalty (for private individuals and small businesses) and without any interruption to your power supply. However, you must take into account a one-month notice period.

How much can you save by switching energy suppliers?

For the average household consumption, experts estimate that it is possible to save from €250 to €300 per year.
As a reminder, your electricity or gas bill  includes different costs. You pay for the energy consumed, network costs and fees. For private individuals, VAT is added to this. It is on the energy cost, which covers in particular the cost of gas and electricity charged by your supplier, subscription fees and any rebates, that you can save money.

This energy share represents 30% of a household's bill in Brussels, and nearly 40% for an SME (visit the CREG website for more information).

Do I have to pay to change energy suppliers?

Since 2012, there is no longer any energy cancellation penalty for individuals and small businesses that consume a maximum of 50,000 kWh of electricity and 100,000 kWh of gas annually (if your company consumes more, check the conditions of your contract).

This element is also part of the code of conduct negotiated between the federal government and suppliers of the liberalised electricity and gas market. This also states that energy suppliers must make every effort to ensure that changing electricity and gas supplier does not have negative consequences for the consumer. Such as a power cut, for example.

Beware of combined offers
If you have opted for an offer that includes services ancillary to the supply of energy (e.g. a smart thermostat), you may have to pay a fee in the event of early termination of the contract. Check your contract for details.

How to choose your new energy supplier(s)?

Bear in mind that you have the option to choose two different suppliers: one for electricity and the other for gas.

Compare and choose for yourself

There are many online comparison sites and tools that allow you to compare supplier prices:

  • Brusim allows you to compare gas and electricity suppliers in the Brussels Region.
  • The CREG Scan tool allows you to compare your energy contract with the current market offer.
  • Energyprice.be is certified by the CREG (Commission de Régulation de l'Électricité et du Gaz).
  • InforGazElec carries out a free price simulation on request on the basis of your energy bill (for Brussels only).

Be careful not only to compare the rates applied, but also check:

  • the contractual conditions (especially if additional services are offered)
  • the response time for customer service
  • fees applied if there are unpaid bills (some suppliers charge extra fees for the first reminder)
  • etc.

If you want to opt for green electricity, remember that not all green suppliers are equal and check in advance that your preferred supplier meets your requirements, for example by consulting the Greenpeace ranking.

Use a specialised service provider

If you don't have time to search for a new supplier, or if you really want to maximise the potential savings, you can use a service like June Energy. This company continuously monitors the prices charged by suppliers and changes your contract as soon as it is possible to make savings.

Collective energy purchases can also be a solution. However, you should be aware that the potential savings are limited.

Direct sales: be careful!

Some energy suppliers use door-to-door selling. Direct sellers can be very convincing and it is not uncommon for people to sign an attractive-looking contract too quickly at first sight. In this case, please note that you have a legal cooling-off period of 14 calendar days from receipt of the supplier's confirmation

Consult the practical tips on door-to-door selling from Test Achats

Fixed or variable rate?

With a fixed rate, you pay the same price for the energy consumed throughout your contract. The variable rate follows fluctuations in the wholesale energy market. Depending on the contract, this may be reviewed monthly or quarterly.

Depending on when you change suppliers (time of year and current situation) and depending on the energy concerned (gas or electricity), either of the two options may be more attractive. For example, if wholesale energy prices are particularly low, it is better to opt for a fixed rate and to ensure that this rate is maintained all year round.

Test Achats regularly publishes its recommendations in this area. Feel free to consult the News heading under the House & Energy section when you're ready.

How to proceed once you've chosen your supplier(s)?

Simply complete the form provided on the new supplier's website or ask for a contract to sign at home.

Once this form is sent off, you no longer have to worry about anything. Your previous supplier will be automatically notified via the distribution system operator and will send you a final bill.

Expect to be contacted by phone or post by your previous supplier, but don’t feel guilty about it: it is your right as a consumer to change supplier, and you don’t have to provide any justification.

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