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Why aren’t we all switched on to energy switching?

A light switch on an orange wall

We’ve found that energy prices are the biggest worry for consumers. But if so many of us are worried about how much we’re paying for our gas and electricity, why aren’t more of us switching suppliers?

Our latest consumer tracker data has found that more than eight in 10 people are worried about energy prices, making energy the top consumer worry above fuel and food costs.

Last weekend we published research testing Ofgem’s proposed system for comparing energy tariffs against our ideal system using a single unit price. As well as asking energy customers to compare the two systems, we also asked them about their attitude to energy bills and switching.

So many of us could save money by switching to a different energy supplier or tariff. But more than half of the people we spoke to have never compared their tariffs with others on the market to check if it was worth switching. Only a quarter of people had switched supplier in the last two years.

Most concerning of all – almost six in 10 could not even find their energy bill to see what tariff they were on.

Finding the energy to switch

Do you know where your latest gas or electricity bill is? If not, perhaps you’re one of the people who simply aren’t interested in the price they pay for energy. You receive your bill, pay what you owe and get on with your day.

I’d been putting off switching my energy supplier, because I expected the process to be a huge hassle. Mainly because my flat is rented and I knew I’d have to check with the landlord before making any changes. In the end, my landlord was fine with me switching and the whole process is due to be completed by early next week. I couldn’t believe how straight forward it was.

Switching suppliers to make substantial savings

Of course, switching doesn’t always go smoothly and we are often told about meter mix-ups and final bill disputes by disgruntled energy customers. But I think in most cases it is definitely worth the effort, especially if you stand to save money on your bills.

Of the quarter of people who switched supplier in the last two years, seven in 10 of them did so to save money with a cheaper deal. If you are on a standard energy tariff and haven’t switched for a long time (or even never at all), you could save upwards of £200 on your annual bill.

I don’t know about you, but I think that £200 for half an hour’s work is a pretty good deal.

Do you know where your most recent energy bill is?

I have paperless billing (52%, 125 Votes)

Yes (44%, 107 Votes)

No (4%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 242

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Most of us are aware of the potential benefits of shopping around but the downside can be that savings may not last for long. An example is enticing interest rates for savings. Some take a pride in keeping a track on prices and have spreadsheets and diaries keeping track of everything. What most people would be happy with is reasonable prices that will remain so for a decent length of time.

I have switched energy supplier only twice, the first time mainly to buy electricity and gas from the same supplier and to manage my account online. That proved very easy, but I was disappointed that I was still routinely pestered by meter readers and their ‘sorry you were out’ cards despite providing meter readings promptly on request. The second time I switched, which was fairly recently, was not straightforward. Scottish Power made mistakes and caused confusion. I was pestered by e.on, the previous supplier, and eventually phoned to say that if they pestered me one more time they would be boycotted and I would not consider them next time I review where to buy energy from.

Please carry on with pushing for suppliers to offer a single unit price.


Like a real Mug, I tried to get the best tariff from Scottish Power who supply me. I “found” a nice cheap one and went through the procedure to get a quote – and found I’d been transferred from standard @ £45.00 per month (another 5 or 6 months) to an Internet saver tariff @ £55.00 per month!!! I was NOT allowed to revert to my current tariff but had to remain with this DD Tariff or leave after forfeiting a Departure Payment. This is how SP treat Pensioners. God help the rest!!


Tell them you are going to complain to Ofgem and tell Ofgem that you made a genuine mistake when trying to get a better price. Make it as hard as possible for Scottish Power. They have treated you disgracefully. Nobody would intentionally select a more expensive tariff. So much for the energy companies offering us the best deal.


I check my best deal through Switch with Which whenever my supplier changes my tariff – using my annual consumption in kWh. Checking is straighforward and examining the options, rates and terms is equally easy. I’ve switched a couple of times and that was equally straighforward. I suspect like you many people think it will be difficult, or just can’t be bothered.
I do keep check on the supplier and they (NPower) have written to advise their rates are increasing by just under 10% for my current deal (online Jan 14) in July; checking their website for alternative tariffs I found “online Aug 14” would only cost 5% more (checking with Switch again I found this was still my best deal). So I’ve emailed Npower asking them to change to this instead and also asked why it wasn’t offered as Ofgem will be making it compulsory to offer the cheapest deal. NPower have been very good at responding in the past – see what happens this time.


A prompt response from NPower changing me to the better tariff. However, regarding offering the cheapest deal, they replied:
“In regards to offering you the best tariff, Ofgem regulations specify that we must do this when asked. We ask you to get in touch or check online to see what would be the best tariff for you and will happily offer you the best one when asked on the phone or online.”

This may be current Ofgem requirement (?) but the new Ofgem proposal is:
“3.66. Our proposals require the cheapest tariff messages to be provided in the following communications: Bills, Annual Statements, Price Increase Notifications and End of Fixed Term Notices”. So to be provided automatically, not when asked.

This, of course, only applies to your current provided. Finding your best deal in the whole market will require research – best done, I suggest, by using a switching site such as Switch with Which which will do all the work for you (just keep a record of your annual energy usage in kWh from your bills).


I am glad to hear that you are pushing npower to comply with the rules, Malcolm. I wonder what action will be taken if suppliers fail to provide information about cheapest tariff to customers.

Today I celebrate the completion of my switch from e.on to Scottish Power, but only because I made a call to ask about the login details that were promised ‘soon’ on 29 April. I have been given confusing, conflicting information twice and the process has only taken three months since I received a welcome email from SP.


wavechange, the enforcement proposed can be found around P114 of the Ofgem document. An extract is (SOC = Standard of Conduct):
“The Retail Market Review – Final domestic proposals
4.23. The proposed licence condition for the SOC includes a customer objective that a supplier (and their representative), must treat consumers fairly. A supplier would only be in breach of the SOC if their actions or omissions significantly favour the interest of the licensee and also give rise to the likelihood of consumer detriment.
Approach to enforcement
4.24. As the proposed new SOC will be given effect through a licence condition, it will be enforced by the Authority. We will take a proportionate approach to investigating issues in line with the criteria set out in chapter 3 of our Enforcement Guidelines.247 As noted in our October 2012 consultation document, we are introducing a bespoke policy approach to enforcement specifically to apply to the SOC.”
Presumably if sufficient complaints are made about a supplier then Ofgem would spring into action. As Which is so involved with the energy issue it might be useful if they acted as a centre for complaints?


Thanks Malcolm.

I read that “suppliers must behave and carry out any actions in a fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional manner”. e.on used to keep my account well in credit and a discussion with Scottish Power indicated that they would probably do the same. If necessary I will instruct them to desist and quote the Ofgem document.

I certainly do not support re-nationalisation but our energy companies need to be kept in order.