Energy cooling-off period explained

Find out about cooling-off periods and your right to change your mind once you’ve switched energy suppliers.

Updated 19 June 2020  | 3 min read

Doing your research, and compare energy tariffs from different suppliers, is the best way to get a great energy deal.

But if you do change your mind after signing up to a new deal, you have the right to cancel without losing any money – as long as you’re in the cooling-off period.

Key points

  • When you switch energy suppliers, you have a right to a cooling-off period in case you change your mind
  • Your new supplier will start the switch process during your cooling-off period, but it can still be stopped if you ask
  • If you want to switch suppliers outside of the cooling-off period, you still can. But watch out for exit fees if you’re still in your deal period. You’ll have to pay for any energy you’ve used too

The cooling-off period

When you sign up to a new gas or electricity deal, you have the right to change your mind afterwards. That’s because of the cooling-off period – a consumer right that allows you to cancel a service or contract within 14 days. You have a right to a full refund, and don’t need to give a reason.

When you switch energy suppliers, your new supplier will contact you to confirm that you want the process to go ahead. If you confirm, that’ll start the cooling-off period. It should last 14 days and it’ll be in your contract. Your statutory rights won’t be affected if you pull out of the deal within this window. Use the time to consider your options and make sure you’re happy with the deal, the price you’ll pay and the supplier you’ve chosen.

If you want to cancel, tell your new supplier as soon as possible. You’ll usually have to fill out a form on their website, or there could be a number to call. If you decide to call, the supplier might ask for your request in writing.

What happens after the cooling-off period?

Some energy suppliers wait until the 14-day cooling-off period ends to begin the switching process. This is why you might not hear from them immediately.

Provided you haven’t cancelled during your cooling-off period, the contract will begin and your new supplier will take up-to-date energy readings.

How long does it take to switch suppliers?

This varies between suppliers. If the supplier is signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee then it’ll take a maximum of 21 days. Sometimes less.

The entire process is handled by your new provider, which will contact your old supplier on your behalf.

Can I switch my energy supplier after the cooling-off period?

You can switch energy suppliers after the cooling-off period ends, but you’ll usually be charged an exit fee – it’s common with fixed-term deals. Exit fees are a charge for leaving a contract early. If your supplier has them, you’ll have to pay any time after the cooling-off period and up until 49 days before your contract ends (known as the ‘switching window’).

Exit fees vary between suppliers, so look out for them when you’re comparing energy deals. Sometimes you’ll save more than the exit fees by switching, so they can be worth paying.

If you want to cancel after the cooling-off period, you’ll need to notify your new supplier that you want to terminate the contract.

Researching suppliers and comparing tariffs will help you to get the best deal and save you the hassle of cancelling contracts or paying unnecessary exit fees.

The best value energy deal doesn’t just mean the cheapest price. Also consider things like suppliers’ service quality and customer satisfaction rates.

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

  • Cooling-off periods should be a minimum of 14 days – check the suppliers’ terms for timescales
  • Be wary of door-to-door salespeople selling energy tariffs. Better still, avoid them altogether
  • If you sign up to a contract after a cold call, the salesperson must give you notice in writing of the cooling-off period. If they don’t, it invalidates the contract and you may be entitled to compensation
  • If you believe that you’ve been mis-sold an energy contract, seek advice from the energy ombudsman
  • Compare tariffs to get the best energy deal first time around