What’s a little irritating is that providers of energy are not required to give their customers their best deals, just as providers of mobile phones aren’t.
So, it is no surprise that Big Energy Saving Week today reveals that failing to switch energy supplier may have cost 84,000 of households in Cornwall more than £1,500 each over the past six years – the equivalent of more than half a year of the UK’s average weekly shopping trips.
Figures from Ofgem 2 have revealed that 9 million households across the UK – more than a third (35%) of all households – failed to change gas or electricity provider between 2012 and 2017, with only 19% 6 of people in the South West switching in the last year alone and missing out savings of hundreds of pounds a year.
And while a YouGov survey carried out for Big Energy Saving Week reveals 37% of people across England will visit multiple supermarkets to ensure we get the best deal on our weekly shop, we are not being as savvy with our energy suppliers, with millions of households remaining on the more expensive Standard Variable Tariff (SVT) 4, despite better deals being available.
Starting today, Big Energy Saving Week is a nationwide campaign from the Energy Saving Trust, Citizens Advice and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which helps households lower their annual spend on energy. Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive, Energy Saving Trust, said: “The difference between the average Standard Variable Tariff and the cheapest deal on the market is significant, but millions of households still aren’t accessing these savings. To put that into context, switching this year could save you up to £300 – equivalent to more than a month’s worth of food shopping. In other words, if you haven’t switched for six years, you’ve missed out on more than six months’ of food shopping. With January being a tight month for household budgets, now is the time to look at switching your energy tariff to make sure you’re on the best possible deal.”
Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark said: “We’re helping people take control of their fuel bills to reduce how much they pay for their gas and electricity. Big Energy Saving Week highlights how much money people can save simply by changing their energy supplier and taking action such as installing a smart meter.”
A YouGov survey carried out as part of the campaign also revealed that:
65% of people in England would read reviews when planning to spend £1,000, but only 15% read any reviews about their new energy supplier or tariff when they last switched, with the average dual fuel bill £1,123 5
Nearly a fifth (19%) of English households are unaware or don’t know there are ways to switch supplier other than online
32% of English households believe there’s no point in switching because ‘all suppliers are the same’
As part of the Big Energy Saving Week campaign, Citizens Advice will host events across Great Britain (though probably not in Cornwall given it has been much reduced here!) with its volunteers and staff offering face-to-face advice to people with concerns about their energy bills, helping share information about switching and about how the Energy Switch Guarantee makes the process simple and easy.
For those in Bude and similarly deprived areas, an online price comparison tool from Citizens Advice can help bill payers find a cheaper supplier. The comparison tool is completely impartial and includes quotes from all energy suppliers, offering a quick and easy way to find the best deals.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Checking your energy tariff and switching to a cheaper deal is one of the quickest and easiest ways to cut your bills. We know people who stay with the same energy supplier often pay hundreds of pounds more a year for the same gas and electricity. It is too often the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes who pay the highest prices for their energy. Citizens Advice is hosting local events across the country to help people compare prices and make the switch during Big Energy Saving Week.”
For free advice on switching energy supplier, or to find out what events are happening in your area, call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or log on to www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Additional support is available for low-income households through the Government’s Energy Company Obligation and Warm Home Discount schemes, the window for which is closing soon for this winter. For further information in England and Wales, contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.