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Energy cooling-down periods explained

Find out more about energy cooling-off periods and your right to change your mind when you switch gas and/or electricity supplier.

Key points

  • When you agree to a new energy contract you're given a 14-day cooling-off period in which to change your mind
  • The switch process begins at the same time as the cooling-off period, but it can be stopped if you change your mind within the 14 days
  • After the 14 days your switch should be completed within three days

When you sign up to a new gas or electricity deal, you have the right to change your mind afterwards.

At Gocompare.com, we recommend comparing energy prices regularly to make sure you get the best tariff on the market.

Before switching, if possible do some research, such as finding out if the energy firm you're switching to ranks highly in customer satisfaction polls and on consumer forums.

But sometimes, for all sorts of reasons, you might change your mind after signing up to a new deal. And, if you do, it's not too late.

The cooling-off period

When you decide to switch energy supplier you'll need to fill in an application form, which is usually done online and takes only a few minutes. Your new gas and electricity supplier will then contact you to confirm that the switch is going ahead.

When the switch is confirmed, the cooling-down period begins. The cool-off time should be 14 days - you'll see the timescale outlined in your new contract.

The switch process itself now begins at the same time, but a consumer's statutory rights are not affected - meaning that the process can be rolled back at any time during the 14 days.

Use the cooling-off period wisely and think hard about the energy tariff you've just signed up for.

It might offer the best price, but you might find that the customer service record of the particular energy firm doesn't sound all that good.

The cooling-down period will go by quickly, so if you do change your mind it's important to act fast and tell the new supplier. If you contact them by phone, they might ask you to put the cancellation in writing, too.

After the official cooling-down period, it's possible you'll still be able to cancel the agreement. There might be a fee for doing so, but the energy supplier might waive this - you won't know unless you ask!

In most cases, however, if you change your mind after the cooling-down period you'll have to give notice to the new supplier that you wish to terminate the contract.

What happens after the cooling-down period?

If you believe you've been mis-sold an energy contract or you have concerns about the cooling-off process, you can get advice from the energy ombudsman

When the cooling-off window closes, the contract will go ahead and your new energy supplier will take up-to-date meter readings.

As the switching process will have begun during the cooling-off period it can now be completed within three days, and there are plans to reduce this to one day by the end of 2018 (at the latest).

The new supplier will contact the old one on your behalf.

What else do I need to know about cooling-down periods?

Be wary of doorstep energy salespeople trying to sign you up to a new tariff or, even better, avoid them altogether.

However, if you do decide to sign up to a contract following a cold call, remember that the salesperson must give you notice in writing of the cooling-off period.

If they don't, the contract is invalid and you might be entitled to compensation.

If you believe you've been mis-sold an energy contract or you have concerns about the cooling-off process, you can get advice from the energy ombudsman.

By Rebecca Lees