Gas and electricity Updated:
Not happy with your current energy supplier? You're not alone. Not only have recent figures highlighted a worrying level of complaints in the industry, but many other customers could simply feel that they're paying too much, and happily, they're doing something about it!
New data from Ofgem shows that a whopping 3.8 million switches took place in the first half of the year, around 1 million (or 30%) more than the same period last year, highlighting a clear shift in behaviour. People seem less willing to put up with poor service, and are realising that they don't have to remain loyal – and that switching could save a small fortune.
Breaking down the figures shows that around 1.6 million domestic customers switched gas suppliers and 2.2 million switched electricity supply in the six-month period, and given that they have more choice than ever before, it's little wonder they're deciding to test the waters. Indeed, there are now over 40 suppliers to choose from – triple the number seen in 2010 – making it a golden age for competition in the sector.
Don't lose out
However, there's still more to be done. The data also revealed that 66% of customers are still on expensive standard variable rate tariffs, and are paying far more than they need to as a result: it's possible to save over £300 by ditching a standard variable rate tariff and switching to the cheapest deal available, says Ofgem, which will invariably be a fixed term deal.
The figures speak for themselves: the average standard variable tariff of the larger energy suppliers stood at £1,066 at the end of July, while the cheapest tariff available on that date was a one-year fixed tariff priced at £758, resulting in a saving of £308.
As Ofgem's Rachel Fletcher says, "great deals are there for the taking. There are very competitive offers and many more suppliers to choose from, and that's why more consumers are switching. With savings of around £300 available, and winter coming, now is a great time to shop around for cheaper deals".
The energy regulator recognises that there's more work for the industry to do to make sure that competition works for everyone, and says it's "taking forward the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) reforms to better protect those on pre-payment meters and to increase competition for all other customers". However, there's only so much that they can do – if you really want to benefit, you need to be proactive!
"Energy suppliers continue to benefit from the blind loyalty of consumers," said Mark Todd of energyhelpline.com. "Customers who don't switch are effectively giving their supplier money unnecessarily, [which is why] households must replace their passive approach with a more proactive one.
"When all you have to lose is an overpriced energy bill, it makes sense to switch and save. With over 40 suppliers now on the market there's more choice than ever, and the time it takes to switch has been cut. Online price comparison and switching tends to take customers just 10 minutes, [and] all you need is a recent bill to hand."
Don't put up with poor service or high energy bills – compare the options using our search tool and see if you can find a better deal
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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