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Switchd Review – Auto-Switching Service For Gas and Electricity Suppliers
If you pay for energy in your home, you must know that switching the supplier often is a great way to pay less. Alas, rummaging for tariffs and switching by hand is a time-consuming task.
In this post, we will talk about Switchd: a paid auto-switching service that promises savings of £400 and up with their paid subscription service. You’ll learn what Switchd offers, what the service plans are, and how they compare to the myriad other auto-switchers out there.
But before we learn how Switchd, and other auto-switchers work, we must acquaint ourselves with the UK energy market.
Table of Contents
How does the UK energy market work?
The UK energy supply relies on 3 vital components:
- Power generation
Whilst large power stations produce most of the nation’s electricity, many smaller facilities also feed into local grids. So at times, the company whose name you see at the top of your energy bill may also own and run a power station.
- Transporting electricity and gas
The National Grid transmits both gas and electricity from their source to the UK’s many corners. Then, private companies step in to distribute energy to end-users.
- Selling electricity and gas to the consumer
The suppliers buy energy at wholesale prices, then sell it to consumers. They often buy ahead for weeks, months, or even years, to offset market volatility and protect their users from sharp tariff spikes.
The UK’s energy suppliers operate in a competitive market, where consumers can swap them at will. These companies may work in either of the branches, and some are involved in all 3. Some stick to fossil-fuel generation, while others opt for green technologies.
With over 70 private energy companies in the UK, the only way to save is to compare tariffs regularly and switch often. That’s how we survive in an expensive country.
Yet, to many, switching is a hassle not worth the savings. To meet the demand for convenient switching, various switchers and comparison sites have flooded the country. There’re the likes of The Energy Shop, MoneySupermarket, and Look After My Bills (which does the switching and comparing for you).
Then there’s Switchd.
What is Switchd?
The company’s creation was inspired by the AgeUK tariff scandal. Britain’s biggest charity for old people was caught accepting alleged payments from one of the “big six” energy suppliers to push their tariffs. These were far from the cheapest on the market.
Vexed by this episode, and the general lack of transparency in the energy industry, two friends – Tom Rogers and Llewellyn Kinch – launched Switchd.
Switchd is an automatic switching service. Once you’ve signed up, it monitors the energy market, seeking tariffs that would offer the best savings in the long term. Switchd lets you adjust your account settings to tell them if you prioritise green energy, low tariffs, or both. The service handles all debits and credits stemming from over and underpayments and takes care of cancellations.
What is the difference between comparison sites and auto-switchers?
With so many similar sites to compete with, Switchd focuses on convenience – it fully takes the tedious, but vital task of switching suppliers off your shoulders. You may wonder: ‘are they another comparison site?’
The answer is: no. But let’s take a look at the difference between comparison sites and auto-switchers like Switchd, as this will help you discern the two when you look for deals in the future.
Comparison sites make their living off commission. So, they show deals that will earn them money, meaning they will not show every tariff on the market. Because they cast a smaller net, they often omit some of the best available deals.
Auto-switchers, on the other hand, go beyond showing you deals. They find tariffs for you based on the parameters you set and switch you automatically when a favourable one comes up. For this, they either charge a fee to the consumer, like Switchd, or a commission to the supplier, like Look After My Bills.
In the latter’s case, the commission fee is typically the same for all energy providers, so there’s no incentive to promote a more expensive tariff.
How does Switchd work?
Switchd uses an algorithm to match energy tariffs to the parameters you outline when you sign up. They claim to search over 26,000 tariffs to find you one that fits your needs and keep checking after you’ve made your first switch.
The cool thing about Switchd is that the service lets you register multiple properties. This way, you can track all your accounts simultaneously, from one dashboard.
Before you sign up, Switchd only asks for your postal code, the current supplier for electricity, or electricity and gas, and your monthly usage, either in pounds or kilowatt hours. If you’re not sure how much you use monthly, Switchd will estimate this number based on your household size.
Once you’ve completed this quick survey, Switchd will show you:
- the estimated savings over the next 12 months,
- the company they’d like to switch you to, along with their Trustpilot rating,
- green electricity percentage,
- tariff type,
- exit fees to leave your current supplier, and
- how they’ve estimated your current usage (if you didn’t specify it), and your potential savings
Then comes your turn to set your tariff preferences. You can pick tariffs that are:
- Green-only. Those that come from a 100% renewable means of generation.
- Fixed-rate. These give you a set unit rate for a specified length of time, typically a year. These are preferred, as the variable rates could change randomly.
- Paid by direct debit. These usually cost less than other types of payment, such as quarterly, over the phone or by cash/cheque.
- Seasonal direct debits. These try to match your bills to actual energy usage. They go up in winter, and down in summer.
- From suppliers with a minimum Trustpilot rating of your choice.
At this stage, you may also enter your priorities for future switches, including whether you’re OK with exit fees, and the minimum projected savings to initiate a switch.
After naming your preferences, you’ll have to give Switchd some more personal information before they sign you up.
Then, within 2 weeks, Switchd checks your meter and finds the optimal tariff for you. They email you with the details of the switch, and it goes ahead automatically from there – you don’t have to lift a finger. If your current supplier charges exit fees, Switchd will take this into account before calculating your long-term savings.
Once you’re on the new tariff, Switchd continues to monitor the energy market and switch you when a more economical deal comes along. On average, the service boasts £400 annual savings for their subscribers.
How does Switchd calculate savings?
The savings calculation formula is quite simple. Switchd estimates your annual energy costs if you do not switch suppliers. Then, they forecast your yearly costs if you do switch, and thus arrive at the difference.
When making its estimates, Switchd considers both parts of the tariff: the standing charge and the unit rate.
- Standing charge
This is a fixed daily charge that the company will levy no matter how much energy you use. These vary between providers but make up on average 20% of your total bill. When you consume more, the standing charge takes a smaller portion of the overall bill.
- Unit rate
The unit rate is what you pay per unit of energy consumed in kWh. These vary based on the supplier and the type of tariff.
Combined, here’s an example of how the standing charge and unit rate work:
As of summer 2020, British Gas’ standard variable tariff has a standing charge of 22.426p/day for electricity and 25.424p/day for gas. The unit rates are 18.321p/kWh and 4.071p/kWh for electricity and gas, respectively. With this tariff, your annual dual fuel costs are estimated at £1,239.58.
How does Switchd select suppliers?
When Switchd finds you a new tariff, there’s more than just costs that go into their selection. As we’ve mentioned before, you can also pick renewable-only suppliers. What’s more, Switchd screens every supplier for potential headache-causing problems, such as:
- poor trust pilot scores
- worries about the company’s financial security
- previously failed switches
- previous billing issues
- poor direct debit practices
When Switchd flags a supplier for any of these faults, they will not offer their tariffs until the issue is resolved. You can take a look at their supplier list, and the pertinent data, here.
How much does Switchd charge?
Unlike many other auto-swithers, Switchd is not free for its customers. Here’s how their pricing scheme works.
Upon registration, you will not pay them a penny until they’ve saved you at least £50. After crossing this threshold, Switchd charges you the monthly fee, which varies based on the pricing plan you go with. Here are their pricing options:
- Free. Like other free auto-switch services, this one relies on commissions and offers fewer tariffs to compete with your existing provider. The estimated annual savings are £300, and you can request support over chat or email.
- Lite. Because this option is not swayed by commissions, it has access to more tariffs, and can allegedly save you upwards of £400 every year. This plan costs £1.99 per month.
- Standard. Working just like lite in all regards, this plan lets you reach support by phone, besides chat and email. It costs £3.49 p.m.
- Premium. This priciest option promises the same savings as the lite and standard plans but includes a WhatsApp support number, and a dedicated support agent.
Given the maximum annual costs of £23.99, the no-frills lite plan is a fair deal if you get the promised savings, and as long as you’re OK without phone support.
What is the difference between free and paid auto switchers?
Whilst their monthly fee is rather small, you may wonder why Switchd charges it at all when other auto-switchers don’t. Services like Look After My Bills don’t have to make you pay because they get a commission from the energy companies. Unlike comparison sites, the commission fee they charge is typically the same across the board, so neither of the suppliers gets preferential treatment. They are chosen based on tariffs and their standing.
Paid auto-switchers, on the other hand, charge their fee to the customer. This gives them the autonomy to stay unaffected by potential commission earnings. They argue (as Switchd does), that many economical tariffs from reputable suppliers are omitted by free auto-switchers because not all providers agree to pay a commission. So, there could be myriad solid tariffs these switchers don’t show. Paid services, on the other hand, claim to have more tariffs on offer because they work with all suppliers without charging them a commission.
What do the customers think?
Switchd relies heavily on Trustpilot to screen its energy suppliers. We, in turn, can look at Switchd’s Trustpilot rating to get a glimpse into its customers’ feedback.
Overall, Switchd’s Trustpilot rating is quite high.
With 4.4 stars, the service is deemed “Excellent” and has 225 customer reviews. Here’s a breakdown of these:
- Excellent – 84%
- Great – 4%
- Average – 1%
- Poor – 1%
- Bad – 9%
That adds up to an impressive 88% of positive reviews.
And what do the users have to say?
Most good reviews praise the service for being handy and honouring their savings promise. Many applaud the ‘expert’ customer support and the user dashboard.
Others voiced frustration with Switchd for leaving customers to deal with the supplier directly.
The final 9% took it a step further and bashed Switchd, mostly for the same thing – poor coordination, and leaving the customer to sort things out with the supplier. A tiny fraction of the reviewers bemoaned the lack of promised savings.
If you want to read more of these reviews on your own, click here.
As we wrap up this post, let’s review the pros and cons of signing up with Switchd.
What are the pros of using Switchd?
Compared to running comparisons and switching on your own, Switchd has a heap of advantages. Here they are:
- Switchd uses an algorithm to sift through tens of thousands of tariffs. Doing so manually is almost impossible due to time constraints. But even if you had the time and patience to run your own comparisons, the complexity of tariffs would quickly overwhelm you.
- The Switchd platform keeps its fingers on the pulse of the energy market. Consumers just don’t have the time to search, compare, and switch repeatedly. With this service, your supplier can be swapped automatically as soon as a better tariff turns up.
- Switchd handles the cancellation and all other nuances that arise during a switch.
- Switchd has a user-friendly dashboard, which lets you see all your energy details in one place.
- Switchd has a mobile app to let you access your account on the go.
- Switched will keep you in the loop about by emailing you the deals they’ve found before executing a switch.
- Switchd lets you include multiple properties into one account.
Then, there’s the edge Switchd claims to have over their free competitors: access to more tariffs, thanks to a commission-free business model.
What are the cons of using Switchd?
As we’ve learned from Trustpilot’s reviews, not everyone is thrilled with this service. So let’s go over some cons of using Switchd:
- In some cases, Switchd may leave you dealing with the supplier on your own.
- Unlike other auto-switchers, Switchd levies a monthly fee.
- You won’t save as much with the free plan.
- Switchd will execute changes on your behalf. It’s easy enough to let an undesirable switch slip through the cracks if you miss the 14-day cooling-off period. And, as one vexed Trustpilot reviewer pointed out, the service carried out a switch despite objections from the customer.
What are the alternatives to Switchd?
One mustn’t look far to find alternatives to Switchd in the UK. These services are ubiquitous in the country. Here, we’ve reviewed a few for you by type: comparison site, free auto-switch service, and paid auto-switch service.
These guys boast over 1.1 million tariffs and possible savings of up to £383. They let you compare various tariffs against your current supplier’s price, and you can switch through them by filling out a form. Theenergyshop.com performs the swap after the mandatory 14-day cooling-off period and vows to have your new service up and running within 21 days of the application.
Their Trustpilot rating is a decent 4.2.
With a broader range of services, this site offers comparisons for everything from car insurance to airport parking. In this heap is their energy comparison site, Energylinx. Like its peers, GoCompare earns a commission from suppliers once you’ve made a switch. While they don’t switch you by themselves, you can fill out a form and complete the change in one quick sitting. GoCompare boasts saving their clients an average of £476 on gas and electricity bills.
GoCompare’s Trustpilot rating is ‘Great’ – 3.9.
Free auto-switch services
3. Look After My Bills
It’s free to use and signs you on to the best available deal routinely. You have to 14-day cooling-off period to rescind if you’re not happy. Being free to the consumer, Look After My Bills charges commission fees to the suppliers. Arguably, this practice narrows down the pool of available energy companies and tariffs.
Paid auto-switch service
It costs £30/year to be a Flipper member, and for this fee, you get a similar service to Switchd.
There are a few distinctions, though. Notably, Flipper lets you choose tariffs between ‘all suppliers’ and ‘large suppliers only’, the latter including only well-known brands. Just like Switchd, Flipper lets you pick green-only tariffs too.
With the competitive energy market that we have, paying less means switching often. Doing so by hand, without expert help, is not only a tedious and time-consuming task but a hopeless one for most. One simply can’t sift through thousands (or millions, as some claim) tariffs without automation.
Switchd neatly solves this problem for the UK’s consumers. The automated switching service not only finds the best tariff but also handles all the formalities of changing an energy supplier. What’s more, they continue to search for better tariffs as long as the customer is subscribed. The subscription costs £1.99 p.m – a far cry from the potential annual savings of £300-400.
On the downside, Switchd assumes full control over choosing and signing up with suppliers. Despite this, you may be left sorting out your supplier issues on your own.
So, if you’re willing to spend £24/year to save £300 or more, then Switchd may be right for you. Just remember that on rare occasions you may have to speak with the energy company directly.
Do you have anything to add? Have you used Switchd before? If so, please comment below and share your feedback with our readers!