Switching energy supplier seems confusing to many UK households as nearly a third of energy customers want advice on how to change energy providers as price rises on gas and electricity bills of up to 18% come into effect.
In a nationwide study, MoneyExpert.com discovered that 29% of households would welcome phone or face-to-face support to find the most competitive gas and electricity prices many preferring face-to-face support.
That rises to 33% among over-55s with 10% of older households welcoming face-to-face advice.
Even though OFGEM, the energy regulator, estimates the average household can save around £232 a year by switching ahead of a range of price announcements from the ‘Big Six’ suppliers, nearly two out of five households (38%) have either never switched or have not moved energy provider for five years or more.
With an estimated 17 million households on standard tariffs, which generally is the most expensive way to buy gas and electricity, this is costing consumers £1.4 billion in needless costs.
However if many people do not understand how their energy bill is worked out, or understand how quick and easy it is to switch, more should be done to educate consumers, or to find ways of guiding householders through the switching process.
Mike Rowe, Chief Operations Officer, at MoneyExpert.com commented: “Every gas and electricity customer should shop around as price rises are being pushed through by almost all major suppliers but the issue is that millions are not confident about moving.
“Switching online suits most customers but it is clear that millions prefer guidance on how to it and would welcome face-to-face or phone support on making the move.
“That is understandable when price tariffs include a wide range of options including standard variable and fixed tariffs. Our own experience shows more than half of those who move supplier would never have done so unless they had been contacted.”
Chris Ray, MoneyHighStreet comments: “I suspect that it is a mixture of complaceny and lack of knowledge that is preventing so many people from switching to better energy deals.
“I was guilty of both of these traits!
“When we moved home, 2.5 years ago, I looked around for the best deals and chose a dual tariff deal with Utility Warehouse. Their prices are reasonable, and their service has always been good, but because of that, I have been complacent in not actively seeking better deals even though paying over the odds for your gas and electricity really does add up over a year, let alone 2.5 years!
“It was only when I was researching an article that I realised that we were missing out and so I decided to switch to Bulb, a small energy company with some really great prices, a good mix of green energy sources and even an opportunity to earn money with their refer a friend initiative.
“In fact our switch to Bulb is finalised today and it has been so simple with no issues. I just wish more people realised that they can save money and help the environment, just by the simple act of switching supplier.
“The Big Six companies have many complex plans and tariffs that make it look like a nightmare to find, and compare, the best deals. I suspect they do this on purpose. Direct debit payments make you complacent, which is another trick that suppliers use.
“The simplicity is to be found in the smaller energy suppliers like Bulb, Ovo, and others. Ofgem ensures that you are safe when switching to small energy providers.
“Don’t be one of the many people that the research by MoneyExpert found. Spend half an hour looking at the market, and then get going with your switch, which should not take more than five minutes.
“Your new supplier does all the work. You just benefit from saving money and (hopefully) helping the environment. It’s as easy as that!”