Find out how to get connected to gas and electricity suppliers in the United Kingdom...

Getting Connected: Gas and Electricity

The UK's standard electricity supply is the same found across Europe, which is 220-230 volts AC with a frequency of 50 hertz. For other equipment, a transformer or adaptor is required unless the appliance has a multi-voltage option. It is therefore fine to use electrical appliances and equipment from one European country in another, but only if the right plug is used.

Many countries across the world use supply voltages different to the UK's. For example, in America, the standard electricity supply is 120 Volts, meaning that the two power systems are not compatible. A US appliance in the UK, and vice versa, can only be used if the appliance is dual rated, or clearly marked with both 120v/60Hz and 240v/50Hz on the nameplate.

Plugs and Sockets

In the UK the standard re-wireable 3-pin mains plug (Type G) is used; the single pin without the sleeves is the earth connection. This plug can also be used in many other countries including Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Light Bulbs

The UK uses both standard screw-type and bayonet fittings. Regulations have been adopted by the European Commission and less efficient bulbs are progressively being phased out and replaced by low energy-consumption bulbs.

Electricity Providers

The electricity transmission network in England and Wales is owned and operated by the National Grid. The National Grid provides electricity to the UK's electricity suppliers.

The consumer has no direct contact with the National Grid. They should contact their own electricity supplier in emergencies. In the event of a power cut, the local network operator should be called.

According to the UK's Electricity Guide, a comprehensive website dedicated to helping consumers get the best deal for their homes and businesses, there are more than 25 large-scale and small-scale suppliers in the UK. Some suppliers deal only with electricity, but most provide both electricity and gas.

Consumers only pay for the units of electricity that they use. A person can change their electricity and gas supplier at any time. A better deal can be gained by switching supplier or changing tariff.

Below is a list of the major suppliers. For more information and a wider choice see the Electricity Guide website.

Moving In and Getting Connected

When moving into a new home, either rented or privately owned, the previous occupier should have informed their gas and electricity supplier that they have moved. The gas and electricity supplier will then put the property onto a "standard" energy plan, which is notoriously expensive.

The new owner/tenant should locate the electricity and gas metres and take a reading, so that the figures on the metre and the bill correspond.

The estate agent should have details of the current supplier.

If the gas supply has been turned off, contact British Gas to send an engineer to reconnect the supply.

Once the current supplier is known, research to compare suppliers. If the decision is to stay with the current supplier, call to arrange to be moved onto a cheaper plan, rather than the standard energy plan.

The gas and electricity bills show how much energy is being used; this makes it possible to establish if a cheaper plan or supplier is available.

Paying Bills

Bills are usually paid online or by direct debit. Some customers prefer to pay with cash or cheque at their local post office (a cheque can be posted directly to the provider; cash can not).

Disconnecting the Electricity/Gas Supply

When moving out of a home, contact the relevant suppliers at least 48 hours before vacating the property to inform them of departure. Give the existing supplier a final reading from the electricity and gas meters to ensure that they don't bill for electricity or gas that hasn't been used.

Electricity and Gas Emergencies