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The Big Switch – the results are in!

After months of excitement, we can finally announce it – The Big Switch auction has finished! And the winner is Co-operative Energy! It’s delivered savings of around £123 per year. Great news, so what happens now?

There was a certain part of the office that I avoided on Wednesday – The Big Switch hub – the room where my colleagues who have been working tirelessly over the last few months gathered to negotiate with energy companies.

Tense, excited and armed with spreadsheets and calculations, they had just one key question – how low can you go?

The aim was to secure a market-leading energy deal – something that was cheaper than anything else on offer. I’m delighted to say that they succeeded, and Co-operative Energy bid a tariff that will cost the average household either £1,048 per year (if they pay by direct debit) or £1,144 per year (if they pay by cash or cheque).

As they’re a small company they can only take 30,000 customers, so all the extra people (and we think there’s around 200,000 who fully registered) will be offered the second-place deal, with EDF Energy. It’s slightly more expensive, at £6 more per year for the average household, but still very good value.

Ring in the changes

So what happens next? Well, we could sit around eating cake in celebration, or we could see if there are other areas where Which? can help. Our campaigns team is always on the look out for things we can to make things a bit easier for consumers. If you want to stay up to date with what we’re doing, join our Affordable Energy Campaign. You never know when the next ‘Big Switch moment’ might be around the corner!

Personally, I’m really interested to see what affect this will have on energy bills. Will other companies be feeling the pressure to lower their current prices? Will other organisations (such as ThePeoplesPower) get more great deals on their own collective switching initiatives? I hope the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes.’

But more than that I hope that this leads to some genuine, long term change. Although it’s a great result that we’ve managed to secure these savings for thousands of people, I think The Big Switch represents a more significant ‘cry for help’.

The power of numbers

When we launched I expected fifty, perhaps sixty thousand people to sign up. I was overwhelmed when we passed the hundred thousand mark and even more so when the final total was revealed – more than 270,000 people.

The sheer numbers achieved with this campaign are significant, and not just because these people are all switching but because they’re all standing together and saying ‘we’re not happy’. Not happy with soaring bills, not happy with complicated tariffs, not happy with a market that makes it really hard to find the best deal.

If I were an energy company (other than EDF or Co-operative, of course) I’d be shaking in my boots today. They might be able to pacify regulators or make small changes to appease the government, but when a large number of people take their custom away it shows there’s a real problem.

So what’s next? Do you think we’ll see more collective switching initiatives? Do you think energy companies will make longer term change? I certainly hope so.

[UPDATE 11 MAY 2PM] – Due to popular demand we’re publishing the details of the tariffs for ease of reference. Please note these are averages – your tailored savings estimate will provide the most relevant information to you based on your current energy tariff, usage and location. If you provided your energy details, you’ll receive an email from us in the upcoming days.

You’ll have until 28 May to decide whether to make the switch.

Co-op Variable Pioneer      Tariff Co-op Fixed Pioneer    Tariff EDF Blue+ Price Promise
Avg. Elec Std Chrg – 17.26p     Avg. Elec Std Chrg – 17.26p       Avg. Elec Std Chrg -14.70p
Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 11.99p    Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 10.84p       Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 11.99p
Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 17.26p     Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 17.26p       Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 23.10p
Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.77p      Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.42p         Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.62p

hughstjust says:
25 May 2012

I was advised to take the EDF Blue offer saving me some £300 annually – I tried to move to EDF last September from Southern Electric but their customer service was simply appalling so I can’t be bothered. I am on Fix Price 7 with Southern Electric which runs I believe for another 3 years at the current price. Service is everything as far as I am concerned having encountered British Gas , Talk Talk etc and certainty of price whilst costly lets me sleep at night!

Carol says:
26 May 2012

how can I contact someone about the big switch? (and receive a response)?

Diane says:
29 May 2012

Very appreciative of the whole Big Switch effort, but this particular time I won’t switch. This is because we’re with Ebico, who like the Co-op are non-profit-making. Also, with Ebico, everybody pays the same tariff, whether they’re using a meter or direct debit. So even though we would save about £100 a year, that’s not enough for us to make the switch. And EDF is out of the question: I could save £1,000 a year and I still wouldn’t use them. Had a brief experience of their “customer service” when in transition after a move, as they were being used by previous owners, and they were absolutely appalling.

WIth you in principle, and will be interested in what happens next.

Smashed123 says:
1 June 2012

I completed the application form on line and have heard nothing from Which about switching. When am I supposed to hear?

I was one of the lucky ones who switched to Co-operative energy. I read that they are a small company – surely with the lowest price they should be allowed/expected to GROW??. I’ve had two or three letters from Scottish Hydro regretting my decision to change – they promise the lowest price and a fixed price at that – but oddly – even at this stage they do not say what it is!!!!!

I have contacted the Co-op and they inform me that there is no record of my application and that it was probably your fault as many applications were not forwarded by you properly or were lost.

Will you be giving us an update on this and if there were lost and incomplete applications, are you making further efforts to correct the matter.

Does Which? research shows your poor service! Are you going to expose yourself?

2 September 2012

I filled in my application quickly.Heard nothing since.Presume I was not one of “lucky” ones. Put it down to trouble at Coop – Chief Exec going,c**k-ups with Lloyd business etc etc.Would appreciate
update.This Big Switch idea has not been your finest hour.

Good idea 4 Market says:
20 October 2012

The best thing the government could do would be compel all providers to submit by sealed bids a tariff to the Energy Regulator. This tariff would be then published and would have to be fixed for 1 year.

Energy providers would have to do this 4 times each year. Smaller providers could limit the customers they take on (as they would be forward buying energy options in the market).

This means four times a year, the consumer could pick the cheapest tariff and then switch for a 12 month period……………..an open free market would be created overnight.