By now the term ‘energy-switch’ has probably already caused you to yawn and click off. If you are outside of Britain then click-off anyway as it won’t affect you.
According to the BBC, a new generation of energy switching services is emerging, claiming to offer better ways for millions of people to cut their gas and electricity bills.
Apps will soon be available that can switch you to these automatically to suit your needs.
You will just receive a text message informing you of who your new supplier is.
“They are designed to help overcome the problem of inertia – the seemingly stubborn refusal of more than 17 million UK households to switch energy suppliers regularly, despite the large potential savings available to those which do.”
The poorest amongst us often have to make a choice between eating and heating in the winter. Government Ministers and regulators endlessly encourage non-switchers to seek out better deals for gas and electricity as the key to forcing the energy market to become more consumer-friendly.
But with fewer than 15% of households switching last year, this strategy seems not to be working.
The way the energy market now operates, people who switch suppliers benefit from the attractive low-price deals companies offer new customers. Those who rarely or never switch mostly end up paying companies’ notoriously expensive Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs).
I personally, hate apps, but have just switched energy supplier as I came to the end of a great deal that included £240 worth of shopping vouchers a year. If I did nothing, I will have had to pay nearly 50% again and without vouchers. So I went on to a comparison site and changed. It only took 5 minutes online and they do all the work and notify your old supplier etc. I will be paying an estimated £280 less than the good deal last year, with a newly formed company.
There is no ‘best’ supplier, we all have different needs.
For some people it is not just about the money, some have commitments to the most ecological energy. If you are elderly or disabled a company which has the best customer-care service may be your priority. If you are Scottish, as an example, you may want to support a supplier from your country as opposed to say a German one.
Those continually on the move, such as students, may have payment meters or need tariffs with no ‘exit fees’ (which can cost up to £60 for each type of energy). If you are out most of the time, then some are now offering free weekend electricity, or a tariff 7 just for night-time users.
Often when you change there is a two-week cooling off period, and you existing supplier will more than likely contact you about cheaper tariffs. If the energy supplier is named in your rental contract, you can often find out if you are on the best tariff with them this way.
Each time your tariff changes your company is obliged to let you know your kw that you used for the year – this will give you the most accurate estimate of savings on a comparison site. You can call them for this or you can just use the monthly bill rate to see if you might be better off somewhere else.
The government has done much in the way of regulations to make it easier to change nowadays.
I myself switched via these: https://switch.which.co.uk as they use big and small companies to compare and give review ratings. There are sites like GoCompare and USwitch but I think that they are more biased towards switching you to the bigger companies, which is fine if that is what you feel safer with. There are plenty of comparison sites out there, it is worth looking at a few.
As a general rule if you have dual fuel, pay by monthly direct debit and are prepared to do your own meter readings online it will be cheaper, but not always.
One thing is for certain, the more we are prepared to switch, the more accountable the energy companies have to become.
Why not do a check? Or, let me know your thoughts and tips.
All photos © by Southampton Old Lady