Lowering bills, cutting carbon

Back to News

The Definitive Guide to Green Energy Switching


We speak to lots of people who are keen to switch to green energy, but are unsure of how it works, whether it will cost them more, or those who are just interested in finding out more about renewable power. So we decided to bring together our knowledge of the subject to provide you with the most comprehensive guide on switching to green energy that’s available.

To access the full guide in beautiful PDF format, then just complete the form below and we’ll email it to you immediately.


What is green energy?

‘Green energy’ means power generated from the elements – sun, wind, water (rivers, tides or wave power) and biofuels (gas released by rotting food and agricultural waste). Unlike dirty electricity generated by burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), green energy is renewable and has little impact in terms of climate change and air pollution.

How do green energy tariffs work?

Picture the National Grid like a bucket full of water.* When you’re on a renewable tariff, your supplier promises to match the amount you take out of the bucket by putting the same amount of clean water in. The more clean water that goes into the bucket (and the less dirty water), the cleaner the bucket, and therefore the Grid, gets.

*In reality of course, water and electricity shouldn’t mix!

Fixed or variable energy tariff?

What’s the difference between ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ energy tariffs?

If you’ve used our site to compare energy prices, you may have noticed that they come in two types – ‘fixed’ or ‘variable’. What’s the difference?

Fixed tariffs

When you sign up to a fixed tariff, the amount you’re charged for a unit of energy will stay the same for a set period (usually a year). The total amount you pay could still go up or down depending on how much energy you use.

Variable tariffs

When you’re on a variable rate tariff, your supplier can increase or decrease the amount they charge you for a unit of energy, providing they give you advanced warning. Unlike fixed tariffs, there’s no charge for leaving a variable tariff, so if the price does change, you’re free to go elsewhere.

Read our detailed post about the pros and cons of fixed and variable tariffs to work out which is best for you here.

What happens when I switch energy supplier?

The word ‘supplier’ is actually a bit misleading, because most people’s electricity is supplied by the National Grid. The companies you pay for your electricity and gas should really be called ‘sellers’, because that’s all they do – they sell the energy in the Grid to you. That’s great for consumers, because it means no matter who sells us the energy, it still comes from the Grid. No interruptions of supply, no visits from engineers – just a different name on your bills.

So, how does switching work?

Switching is simple. First, use our site to compare your current tariff with our panel of quality, competitively-priced suppliers. It’s useful to have a bill to hand as this will tell you how much energy you used over the past year. Once you’ve got your quote, simply select the tariff that’s right for you, pop in a few details to allow your new supplier to set up your account, and that’s it.

I don’t need to contact my current supplier?

Nope! Your new energy supplier will do that for you. Once your new supplier has received your application, they’ll contact you to let you know what date your switch will go live. As you get close to the big day, they’ll ask you for a meter reading. They’ll then send that to your old supplier so they can issue a final bill. If your account is in credit, you’ll get a full refund from the old supplier.

What about exit fees?

We’re often contacted by customers worried about being charged an exit fee by their current energy provider. In many cases, this isn’t a problem, as Ofgem rules mean that you have almost two months from the end of your contract which are exit-fee-free. You can read our full article about exit fees here.

Can I switch energy supplier if I’m renting?

The rules are very simple: If you pay the energy bills, then it’s your choice – if you want cheaper energy from a trusted supplier, you can have it! You can find out more and read what Ofgem has to say on the matter here.

Ready to make the switch to green energy?

Big Clean Switch is the UK’s only dedicated renewable energy switching service. In just minutes, you can switch to renewable energy and save an average of £230 in the process. Click here to switch now.