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Energy: Switching supplier to take three days

Energy: Switching supplier to take three days

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 16/06/2014
First Published: 16/06/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Do you feel like you are paying too much for your gas and electricity? Perhaps you consider comparing deals and changing supplier, but can you really be bothered with the hassle?

What about if the process was simplified and took a maximum of just three days, perhaps even just one? There would be nothing stopping you from grasping the very best deals available at all times.

Well, soon you will be able to as Ofgem, Britain's energy regulator, has approved supplier's proposals to cut switching time to just three days, after a statutory two week cooling off period, and this is due to come into force by the end of the year. Taking the reforms even further, they are hoping to turn this into 'next day' switching by the end of 2018.

These new rules will mean that once the customer signs up with a new supplier they will still have the 14-day cooling off period, with the switch completing three days after that. If these new timescales are not met, the supplier could face investigation and fines. Currently switching takes around five weeks.

The reliability of the switching process has also come under scrutiny and will be improved, with the aim of giving consumers more confidence to shop around for a better energy deal. This will be made possible by replacement of the IT infrastructure used in the switching process, which was originally developed in the 1990s and the new systems will help consumers take full advantage of the benefits of smart meters, and pave the way for reliable, fast and easy switching for all.

Dermot Nolan, Ofgem's CEO, said:

"Consumers can change their bank in seven days, their mobile phone in just a couple, but have to wait significantly longer to switch their energy supplier. We know that consumers want a reliable and efficient switching process, and that concerns about it going wrong can put them off shopping around for a better deal. So now that we have taken steps to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching."

Giving consumers confidence and control in the energy market is of paramount importance, and these new plans have been welcomed by many sectors, including the charity Citizen's Advice. Their chief executive, Gillian Guy, comments: "People lose money when they wait weeks to switch energy suppliers. The moves from Ofgem to introduce next day switching have long been needed in the energy market. Five weeks is too long to wait when you've found a better deal elsewhere.

"Ofgem's plans to bring in a quicker process by the end of this year need to happen as soon as possible in order to really make a difference to consumers. The switching process in the energy market has been stuck in the slow lane for too long. It's good that energy companies are catching up with other markets, like banking and the mobile phone industry, where regulators have already made it easier and quicker to switch suppliers."

Switching can save you hundreds of pounds, but don't overlook making your homes energy efficient in other ways, such as through insulation, draught exclusion and energy saving appliances. And while these proposals will make it much easier to switch by the end of the year, there is no reason to wait until then. Compare deals right away. You may have to wait a bit longer for the process to go through, but the savings will soon start to mount up and when these rules come into force, it will be even easier to regularly review your provider.

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