It's being continually drummed into us that the only way to get the best price on our energy bills is to shop around, and happily the message appears to be getting through – figures from industry regulator Ofgem show that switching levels have hit a six-year high, as more and more people are shopping around for a better deal.
The figures show that a whopping 7.7 million gas and/or electricity switches took place in 2016, an increase of 1.7 million compared with the previous year, equating to a surge of 28%. This also means that around 15.8% of gas and electricity customers took the plunge and switched last year, the highest proportion since 2010.
They didn't all go to big name suppliers, either, with nearly half (47%) of switchers going to small or medium suppliers, with these lesser-known names continuing to attract growing numbers of customers. And with good reason – several Big Six firms have announced price rises in recent weeks, with some ramping up prices by as much as 15% for electricity customers, so it's little wonder so many households are looking elsewhere.
As Ofgem points out, with savings of around £230 a year on offer from switching to the cheapest deals, shopping around can make quite a difference, particularly for those on standard variable tariffs – around two-thirds of consumers are still on these more expensive deals, and with price rises potentially making these tariffs even pricier, there's never been a better time to consider switching.
After all, it doesn't take much. Ofgem adds that it's "never been easier to change supplier", with the vast majority of switches taking three weeks to complete, compared with around five weeks three years ago.
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 Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.