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Why should you switch your energy supplier?

switch-electricity-supplier

When did you last switch your energy supplier? In the last year or two? Longer ago? Or perhaps you’ve always been with the same one.

If you’ve never switched, you’re not alone.

According to the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) June figures, more than half of energy customers in England (53%) remain with the incumbent supplier for either their gas or electricity supply, or both. For Scotland it’s 65% and Wales 61%.

I switched my electricity supplier just under a year ago – but by default. I moved flat and, with my new home, gained the previous tenants’ energy supplier.

How many people are switching their gas or electricity supplier each year is one of the key measures used by regulator Ofgem (and the government) to monitor the energy market and how well it’s working. The recent CMA review and Ofgem’s response aim to increase switching as part of making the energy market better for consumers.

At the moment, switching levels are low. But why? To find out, we surveyed 5,209 UK energy customers, and these were the top four reasons…

1. I’m happy with my current supplier

The top reason for not switching energy supplier, given by 44%. It’s great news if you’re a happy customer; but if you haven’t switched in the last five years, chances are you’re on your supplier’s variable tariff. This is the default tariff and usually the more expensive.

You might not be so happy to find out that you could be wasting £369 each year on energy. Which? research found that this is the average saving for people using our independent website to change energy suppliers.

2. All the suppliers are pretty much the same

The gas and electricity you use in your home is the same, regardless of the supplier you are with. But there are huge differences between suppliers – specifically in their prices and what their customers think of them.


In June we checked variable dual fuel tariffs from the Bix Six energy providers (British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE). We found that – on average – they were £329 more expensive than the very cheapest fixed dual fuel tariffs on the market.

Plus we found that the gap between the Big Six suppliers’ average standard dual fuel tariffs and the cheapest tariff has widened significantly in the last two years. From 2014 to June 2016, the price difference increased from £182 to £329.

Prices aside, our annual satisfaction survey on energy companies reveals big differences between suppliers, according to their customers. Our most recent survey of over 8,000 energy customers revealed that top provider Ovo Energy had an 82% customer score, while Npower found itself at the bottom of the table with a 41% customer score.

3. Switching would be too much hassle

This was the third reason onto the podium, and the barrier to switching for 21%. The potential gain from a new supplier seems to be outweighed in people’s minds by the workload involved to achieve it.

But switching energy supplier doesn’t have to be a huge hassle – a few clicks on a price comparison website that includes all the tariffs on the market. One example that will find the cheapest for you is our website Which? Switch – use this and you’ll see whether the saving is tempting enough to switch.

4. I’m already on a good deal

It’s a good feeling to know you’re on one of the cheapest deals on the market. But if it’s a fixed tariff, when it comes to an end (they’re usually one or two years long) you’ll automatically move onto your supplier’s default standard variable tariff. This is usually more expensive so keep an eye out for another good deal – and switch to it within the last 49 days of your current tariff. That’s when you can’t be charged an exit fee for leaving.

Do you agree? If you haven’t switched, what else is holding you back? Tell us in the comments below.

Comments
Member

I’ve been trying to help elderly neighbors change, basically that just do not trust the process.
Or they’ve been sold lies by people on the doorstep and are locked into 3 year deals with high exit fees
I on the other hand change almost once a year.

I actually had 2 young ladies knock on the door yesterday “Hello, have you seen the Energy Report, would I like to save money on my utility bills,?”

Selling energy on the doorstep should be illegal. They were using a name presumably designed to make people think they were Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert too.

Member

Hi William, thank you for your comment. Can you tell us any more about the two women who knocked on your door? Do you know who they were representing?

Member

Misusing information seems a rather deceptive tactic to me. It is said that:

“In June we checked variable dual fuel tariffs from the Bix Six energy providers (British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE). We found that – on average – they were £329 more expensive than the very cheapest fixed dual fuel tariffs on the market.

Plus we found that the gap between the Big Six suppliers’ average standard dual fuel tariffs and the cheapest tariff has widened significantly in the last two years. From 2014 to June 2016, the price difference increased from £182 to £329.”

What it fails to do is look at the cheapest tariffs that the “Big 6” offer. In fact, for a medium user, 3 of the Big 6 offer 4 tariffs among the cheapest nine – all within £20 of each other.

Comparing the most expensive (standard) tariffs offered with the cheapest (fixed price generally) available is not a sensible nor fair comparison – unless you are desperate to make a point. Those on expensive tariffs have only to ask their supplier to put them on one of their cheaper ones.

Member
Chris W says:
30 August 2016

Perhaps their supplier should make sure they are on a cheaper one, get rid of different tariffs and also award customer loyalty which never seems to be rewarded these days!

Member

We should beware of some claims. Currently “you could save £329 a year if you switch from a standard variable tariff to a fixed price fixed term one”. However, what happens if most people were to switch? The revenue would drop like a stone, profits would disappear and all that would happen would be…..fixed price fixed term tariff would rise to compensate. So the £1.3 bn “saving” claimed elsewhere is quite illusory.

I see little point generally in having fixed price tariffs; they are being subsidised by the standard variable ones. So I would abolish them in the main and have a standard variable tariff as the principal one, based on what it really costs.

Concentrate then on tariffs that would help users with different energy use from the norm.
Off peak: electricity is cheaper, depending on time of day, and smart meters would let this be recorded. So charge perhaps in 1 or 2 hourly chunks, then those who organise their main usage away from peak times would benefit.
Low users – return to two tier tariffs where the first usage recovers essential fixed costs, dropping to a lower unit after that.
Fixed price: for those who really want to budget carefully, but not heavily subsidised. They may be above or below SVM.
Prepay meters: the same tariffs as offered to others.

Member

I’m with Ovo and I’m not automatically moved to another tariff every year, they ask first. I’m happy I switched to them and won’t move from them, that is until ?Which say they are now part of the Infamous Seven.

Member

Likewise Sophie, I am happy with OVO and see no reason yet to switch.

Member
Patricia says:
18 August 2016

I also looked at Ovo about 6mths ago – but didn’t know anything about them – so ‘chickened out’

Member

Without sounding at all patronising, it is good to hear comments that are positive from people who have exercised choice. If more (most) people did this the message would get across, by voting with your feet. Whether energy, banks. If only we were not so unwilling to help ourselves. 🙂 Maybe most people like a moan, but really don’t care enough?

Member

asked surveyed
?

Member

” Comparing the most expensive (standard) tariffs offered with the cheapest (fixed price generally) available is not a sensible nor fair comparison – unless you are desperate to make a point. Those on expensive tariffs have only to ask their supplier to put them on one of their cheaper ones.”

Pretty much covers it really. Can we have a new subject please.?

Member

Sarah – You say that “if you haven’t switched in the last five years, [the] chances are you’re on your supplier’s variable tariff“. What is the basis for that assumption, or guess? We have been with the same Big Six company for several years on fixed tariffs and take advantage of any new fixed tariffs that come up from time to time if they offer a cost saving or have other advantages [like extended forward price certainty]. I don’t suppose we are alone – far from it. I have also found that switching by default to a standard variable tariff at the end of a fixed price contract does not happen; the company gives advance notice and offers alternative tariffs.

I endorse what Malcolm has said earlier today about making sensible comparisons instead of extreme ones. That is not useful in helping consumers to get the best out of what is already a confusing situation.

Member

Thanks for your comment John. Ofgem’s August figures showed 66% of people are on their supplier’s standard variable tariff. Around 86% are with the six largest energy companies.

Good to hear that you always make sure you’re on a good deal. However, if you did not choose one of the alternative tariffs offered by the time your fixed tariff expired, you would go onto the default standard tariff.

Member

Thanks for that clarification, Sarah. I had not realised I was being so heavily subsidised.

If heavy advertising, Which? campaigns, TV programmes, press and other media, the efforts of Ofgem, word of mouth, relatives’ recommendations, e-mails from their suppliers, bold statements on their bills, and all the other prompts, have not stirred people to switch away from an SVT I don’t know what will. It must have a lot to do with a not unreasonable concern that a fixed-price/fixed-term contract [coupled with the exit penalties] will work against them at some point in the future. And, as some of us here keep saying, if everyone switched to the cheapest deal the economics would change and pricing would be very unstable, plus the cost of switching would impact on prices eventually.

Member

John, I couldn’t agree more. It seems most people could move but choose (deliberately or by default) not to bother. What more can, or indeed should, you do for them? There will always be people who need help to find the best supplier, and assistance to do it, of course.

The total savings associated with changing from SVT are not credible.

Member

In today’s Which? news:
“Energy suppliers: our research We asked 5,029 GB energy customers who hadn’t changed their gas or electricity supplier in the last five years to tell us why they hadn’t switched. The survey was carried out in October 2015.”

Read more: which.co.uk/news/2016/08/top-four-reasons-to-leave-your-energy-supplier-450731/ – Which?

In February 2015 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) received a report, freely available, from GfK NOP who had surveyed 6999 people looking, among other things, at why people had not switched.

Did Which? not know of this survey or not agree with it? Otherwise, why spend resources and money (I assume they paid someone to do the survey) duplicating work already done? And presenting it as fresh findings by Which?

There may be good reason. Maybe I will be told and I’ll retract my comment. But otherwise, there are better ways to spend my subscription.

Member

Hi malcolm r, thanks for your comment. These survey results come from a much larger piece of work – the annual Which? Energy Satisfaction Survey. This survey of UK energy customers looks primarily at satisfaction with energy suppliers, both overall and on specific aspects of customer experience including billing and complaints, as well as asking about switching.

You can read more about the satisfaction survey (which is one element in determining which suppliers should be Which? Recommended Providers) here: http://www.which.co.uk/energy/saving-money/reviews-ns/energy-companies-reviewed/best-and-worst-energy-companies/

Member

@sarah-ingrams, thanks for the link Sarah. I understand the usefulness of a satisfaction survey and am happy to help fund it. My concern was primarily the duplication of the CMA’s work in assessing why people didn’t switch. It seems to me once an authoritative piece had been published it would be more appropriate to report its findings. Unless you disagreed with the CMA findings or had something to add.

Member

Funnily enough I just got an email from my present energy provider -Co-op Energy saying that there had been some minor changes to the contract . I changed to them in December 2015 ,about 5 years ago I was with the outrageously rip-off company – SP I wont go into details but after leaving them I complained to them and to another well known UK complaints website who put them as the worst supplier in Britain . Only in the last few weeks has SP sent us a refund and only saying -quote -it was because of the trouble I had , charged you excess at every bill to build up a large sum to deposit in a high interest account for themselves -refused to give us it back , charge outrageous charges for their energy etc , Moved onto BG they were at it as well but a bit more subtle so now moved to the Co-op . While speaking to the Co-op help desk (UK ) to a very nice man who said I could change to another supplier if I wanted to , no problem but advised me to stay till my year contract had run out and that next month the new contract would be sent to me by email for my perusal . While talking to him he made a startling statement that energy costs had gone up by 40 % not just by his company but all suppliers ,he told me oil prices had gone up from $24 a barrel to nearly $40 a barrel and that gas prices had risen too .

Member

I had the same thing from GB Energy, although it does not affect me as I’m on a fixed tariff for another year. Their email said:
“Important changes to your account.
Dear *********,
Since January this year, the price of oil has increased by more than 70%, which also means the cost of the gas and electricity we buy has increased too.

Although we’ve resisted changing our prices to date, this has meant that for the first time, we’re having to increase the rates that we charge you for your energy by 7%.”

Energy – gas or electricity – depends on a number of factors but as far as I know oil is not directly one of them. This 40% increase is nonsense. If you look at oil prices anyway they are still very low compared to recent years. Have you seen the pump price increase much yet? I saw a local one at 106.9 why do they always end in .9?)

Member

Thanks for that Malcolm.

Member

Making all fuel prices end in 0.9p per litre is evidence that the setting of the price is not the result of an honest calculation based on input costs [as the companies claim] but an artificial construct (a) to see what the market will bear, and (b) to respond to local competition.

With domestic energy prices it would be good if Which? would challenge the companies that are using the price of oil as a reference point to justify raising their gas and electricity prices. It is rank dishonesty and a good reason for switching.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
15 August 2016

Seems unlikely that the energy companies would be so stupid to quote a percentage increase if there was no truth to it. Looking at spot oil prices currently is not really a guide to the price in 3,5 or 10 years or whatever mix of long-term contracts you sign up for.

Energy providers could of course decide to chance the firm and rely on spot-prices totally however this is not very sensible given a sudden spike in oil would send the business to the wall in short order. As oil has been remarkably cheap for some years the odds would suggest that long term pricing may well be higher.

Another factor may also be that the cheapest oil/gas comes from unstable regimes and placing your entire strategy on buying from that one source would be risky.

Just for those who may not know there is an interdependence between oil, gas, and coal as you can generate power using all three. A price increase in the cheapest will bring into play other factors . Just to make it more complex there are the downtimes for servicing that would restrict the power available from particular sources.

Bear in mind that nuclear and wind power charges cost more and if their is pressure for companies to utilise wind power than we pay a subsidy for that and installed capacity is increasing year on year.

i am sure somewhere on the Web this is explained in better detail but it seems almost a shame that we spend so much time on energy costs without the benefit of such an overview to help contributors with the big picture.

Which? does have a stated mission to inform and educate consumers so perhaps it could look at this aspect for Conversations. As a contribution here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the lamented CEGB:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Electricity_Generating_Board

Member

As this is out today and relevant to how electricity is generated and where our supplies come from:
visual.ons.gov.uk/uk-energy-how-much-what-type-and-where-from/

Member

Oil accounts for less than 1% of UK electricity generation. Gas 30%, coal 23%, nuclear 22%, renewables 25%.

Oil prices and gas prices in Aug have certainly increased significantly since January – but they also fell sharply from last Aug to Jan. Today they are 7% lower than this time last year. Did you have a letter telling you about that, and how your energy prices would fall?

Natural gas -$/mmBTU: Aug ’15 = 2.8, Jan ’16 = 1.6, Aug ’16 = 2.6
Oil – $/barrel -Aug’15 = 50, Jan’16 = 28, Aug’16 = 45

I’m sure this is not the whole story but forward buying evens out volatility in energy prices.

Member

For real-time energy consumption, this is a good site:

http : // www . gridwatch . templar . co . uk / index . php

As usual, remove the spaces…

Member

As wind power was brought up that on 7-8-2016 wind turbines pumped enough electricity into the National Grid to power ALL of Scotland,s homes and businesses . 39.545 MW/H pumped in – required – 37203 MW/H. Absolutely delighted said – MIke Brain – CEO for Severn Wye Agency . Confirmed by WWF (Scotland ) Director -Lang Banks. – a “milestone ” he said .

Member

One report (caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/Intermittency_report.pdf) says (I’ve taken extracts):
 The average capacity factor of all monitored wind turbines, onshore and offshore, across the whole of the UK, was 29.4% in 2013 and 28.8% in 2014.

 The monthly average capacity factor varied from 11.1% (June 2014) to 48.8% (February 2014).

 The time during which the wind turbines produced less than 10% of their rated capacity totalled 3,278 hours or 136.6 days over the two year period.

 The time during which the wind turbines produced less than 5% of their rated capacity totalled 1,172 hours or 48.8 days over the same period.
………………………
 There is no correlation between UK wind turbine output and total UK electricity demand, with output often falling as demand rises and vice-versa.
Therefore, based on the above, there is no case for a continued increase in the number of wind turbines connected to the Grid, or for the associated subsidies for wind energy, since this is an ineffective route to lower carbon dioxide emissions.”

But I hasten to add it is just one report. Intermittency is the big problem; storage would help a little.

Member
Peter England says:
15 August 2016

Switching Energy Suppliers is not always as straight forward as it appears.

For winter 2016 to 2017, you could get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The money isn’t paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill between October and April.

The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Not everyone gets the discount – check if you qualify. https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility

People should be aware that the Warm Home Discount only applies to the following suppliers are part of the scheme: –

Atlantic
British Gas
Co-operative energy
EDF Energy
E.ON
Equipower (Ebico)
Equigas (Ebico)
Extra Energy
First Utility
Manweb – see ScottishPower
M&S Energy
npower
OVO
Sainsbury’s Energy – see British Gas
Scottish Gas – see British Gas
Scottish Hydro
ScottishPower
Southern Electric
SSE
SWALEC
Utilita
Utility Warehouse

Member

Now that Peter is one of the best bits of information anybody who is poor/ on benefits /OAP (on low income ) could get . I had this the previous year but good for you publicising it.

Member

It’s a good point, Peter. No point in taking a tariff with a warm home discount if you pay more than £140 above the cheapest tariff that isn’t in the scheme.

Looking at a medium user for their electricity bill only , in my area Atlantic and Ebico would charge more that £140 above the cheapest offer. So 13 of the 15 would be worth using. 3 of the “Big 6” are the cheapest.

Looking at the cheapest tariffs for a medium dual fuel user has 7 of the 15 offering WH discounts that are also in the cheapest tariff group. The cheapest are npower, SSE, SP, First Utility.

So important to do your homework.

Member

New onshore windfarms are now the cheapest way for a power company to produce electricity in Britain . Who said that ? SNP propaganda ?–nope — Left Wing “think tank ” -nope Right Wing -Bloomberg Energy Finance (BNEF) , costs have dropped to $85/£55/MW H compared to current costs of about $115 for constructing coal/gas plants . The price of wind has fallen from $108 just 12 months ago (2014) Bloomberg assesses nuke power at $190 up in price as project delays are factored in. Quote- Seb Henbest- Head of Europe for BNEF = Some people still think that wind or other renewables are ax luxury that we cant afford in difficult times but costs have fallen fast and are now competitive worldwide . Levelised costs of energy was used (LCOE) which takes into account financing/intermittency and other issues so that different technologies could be fairly compared. This wasnt publicised by a Left Wing newspaper either .

Member

It is not only about cost, though, is it, but whether electricity is produced when we need it. If wind is unreliable then there will a limit to how much is worth installing. We need a balanced mix. Tidal power is predictable, green, no pollution (except during construction), may well be costly for the engineering but initial cost may be outweighed by long term “durability” and less reliance on foreign supplies.

Member

Although wind power generation is “unreliable” in isolation, the wind is always blowing somewhere around our coasts as well as in inland areas so if there is enough installed capacity we can quickly harness more renewable energy by this method. Obviously this implies some built-in redundancy and sub-optimal efficiency but turbines not spinning will last longer and serve us well into the future while we build up alternative superior capacity.

Although the UK still generates nearly a quarter of its energy requirements from coal, the coal-powered stations are being closed down over the next few years and I think the run down will gather pace as the cost of importing coal and trundling it round the country to fewer plants will prove uneconomical. The availability of more wind-power generation could tide us over until more nuclear, shale gas, or tidal production is available.

Member

Actually, John, the wind isn’t always blowing somewhere. You’d probably be surprised at just how still the entire UK can become when there’s a large dollop of High Pressure sitting on us, and that can remain for weeks at a time. Wind energy is almost certainly the least effective (and least Green) way of generating electricity. Most green way is Nuclear Fusion, if it ever happens, followed by Hydro generation, conventional Nuclear power, solar (getting better every year), Tidal (but proving notoriously tricky), Wind, Gas, Oil and coal.

The twin issues with wind are unpredictability of fuel supply and manufacturing process. Even Iceland, with a seemingly inexhaustible fuel reserve, still has to harness it to produce electricity, and it’s the harnessing and infrastructure that cost a lot.

Member

The list is perhaps debatable but the key element that changes the equation is storage of energy which if it can be accomplished for electricity could make a vast difference to the economics of each technology.

We are familiar with the pumping of water to a higher to create the fast release power at two sites in Wales. What is needed are similar ideas for electricity storage that do not require mountains. Compressed air in mines, heating materials to high temperatures that could then release it to drive turbines, are some large scale examples.

An alternative in a world of electric vehicles is that there could be vast amounts stored in the parked cars at home all over the UK and these could be signalled when not to be re-charging or indeed perhaps assist to even out the house load. This however seems a little flawed as infinite charging cycles is not a feature of current batteries.

Wikipedia is very useful on Wind power and it reports that:
” Solar power tends to be complementary to wind.[104][105] On daily to weekly timescales, high pressure areas tend to bring clear skies and low surface winds, whereas low pressure areas tend to be windier and cloudier. On seasonal timescales, solar energy peaks in summer, whereas in many areas wind energy is lower in summer and higher in winter.[nb 2][106] Thus the intermittencies of wind and solar power tend to cancel each other somewhat. “

Member

Wind power generation will always be supplemental to the baseload but I don’t think its relative inefficiency should inhibit further expansion. Offshore turbines offer the best hope of capturing windforce even in calmer conditions. When electricity demand is light, as in the summer months, wind power can make a significant contribution. If we were facing a more certain future of baseload power from nuclear and hydro-electric plants I would advocate back-pedalling on wind investment but we have the technology, we have the installation infrastructure, and implementation is relatively quick. There are also export markets on our doorstep. We cannot make the availability of windforce match energy demand hour by hour but perhaps we could put more effort in to making demand more closely follow availability and also develop energy storage systems.

Solar energy production is also supplemental and is contributing more and more both on the domestic and the industrial scale although there is still a long way to go before all new buildings are designed with harnessing the sun’s energy in mind. I had expected office and commercial buildings [both new build and adaptations] to lead the field but there seems to be too much tension between the owners/developers and the occupiers to progress it. Because they are largely unoccupied at night they seem to be ideally suited to solar power for a portion of their energy demand.

Continued energy demand reduction offers enormous potential to further reduce generating capacity requirements. Some of this is going on quietly and steadily with the substitution of LED lamps for public lighting on roads [street lights, traffic signs and signals], railways [carriages, station lighting and signals], as well as in schools, hospitals, industrial, and commercial premises. New electric trains, while increasing demand for electricity will reduce oil consumption to compensate, will be lighter and have more efficient motors, and will have regenerative braking capacity in order to return some power to the grid. Unfortunately the private motor car is not participating much in this revolution.

Member

This talk of “little wind ” will come as a great shock to those living in the North of Scotland which is the area that I first posted about where the biggest intensity of windfarms are there is always high winds there especially up near the Orkney+Shetland islands the same area designated as the ultimate area for sea power due to high tidal action . Its obvious not many people have visited Scotland.

Member

I quite agree with you Duncan. Those of us who live within spitting distance of the North Sea can also vouch for wind strength even on the best of days – and the turbine arrays are sited some miles off the coast where the conditions are even more bracing. Nevertheless, Ian is probably right that there are some flat calm days when a feather would hang in the air and there is not enough force to turn the huge blades even a fraction . . . or do they have a starter motor to overcome the inertia and get the rotation going?

It is also possible, of course, that sometimes there can be the wrong kind of wind – too fierce, and likely to damage the turbines [but they probably have governors to prevent excessive dynamism].

Member

There you go John , the Secretary of State for Energy seems to agree with my constant approval of wind farms .He has just given approval for the Hornsea Project Two by Dong Energy , which is owned by the Danish government . Now if only it was owned by the British government/ British company ? Change of heart by the new Administration c/o TM ?

Member

Wonder what’d happen to us if electricity were abruptly to stop working? Our entire lives and existences are built around a concept about which we still know surprisingly little.

Member

Ian-Its a phenomenon of the physical world we live in (while we are alive ) like static electricity and lightning . The voltage is the EMF (electromotive force ) while the current is the amount of stored energy that is combined to output power in wattage depending on the load resistance . If you are going into the meta-physical you need to go into the molecular level for an answer .Lightning occurs when liquid and ice particles above freezing collide and build up large electrical fields causing a difference in electrical potential between earth and sky. You have got to go into sub-atomic particles for a full explanation.

Member

But that’s where things have stalled. We know what it does, and we’ve created labels for its characteristics but there’s a lot about how electricity actually works we still don’t know. Bit similar to how we don’t really know how two-wheeled bicycles stay upright. Funny old world.

Member

And bumble bees shouldn’t fly. We know enough about electricity to make it work for us. And I thought we knew enough about gyroscopes to understand bicycles, and how to get to space with some accuracy. If only we had an equal understanding of the meaning of life though.

We seem to be the only species that has developed artificial aids to help us progress. Ants and bees keep going without electric light or smart phones. We used to.

Member

Do you mean the physical meaning of life or the spiritual meaning of life Malcolm ? Riding a bike is balance the equilibrium between you and the centre of gravity of the wheels , the pressure applied by your hands on the handlebars controls it . Bees have a much faster wing beat to keep them in the air than even smaller insects like a fly. I am sure in the past I posted the meaning of life on Which and it was hard to accept by people for moral/ scientific/ religious / PC reasons . IF not I have certainly debated it elsewhere even on highly political websites nobody likes reality as I keep saying here but many elsewhere understood what I was saying and getting at even on those types of websites , but I hesitate to reiterate it here as I am sure it would cause offence to many and a lot of posts marking me down. Such is the reality of life in the year 2016 due to programming of humanity but it doesnt really matter we all die Malcolm , dont we ?

Member

duncan, Meaning of life – I’m sorry I haven’t a clue. Cycle balance is not simple and down to a number of factors. including a gyroscopic effect and using steering to help keep the centre of mass over the wheels, I understand. Bees do fly – its the means of explaining it that was difficult. But we manage to understand enough about electricity, and other things, to make use of them.

Our lives would be immensely disrupted if we lost our electricity supply for a long period, as would loss of a commercial food supply. I wonder how many are capable of self-sufficiency? A case for private solar and wind power perhaps?

Member

Exactly as our now long departed regular poster on Which ( much to my regret ) has running his power from , maybe this will entice him back Malcolm ?

Member

I hope he’s not “long departed” duncan. 🙁

Member

They’ve learnt a lot about bikes over the past ten years, since they’ve been researching them to death. “We have relied on trial-and-error engineering to construct stable bikes that aren’t prone to toppling while in motion. Explaining how they work mathematically requires around 25 variables, such as the angle of the front forks relative to the road, weight distribution and wheel size.” But although they thought they knew experimentation has revealed some interesting things.

When researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin-Stout at Menomonie attempted to build ‘un-ride-able’ bikes, they couldn’t, which led to a fascinating conclusion that the human equation was far more complex than they’d imagined.

Member

Ian, one possible view of that world is given by the recent scifi movie Transcendence.

Member

Most physical manifestations of electricity can be explained using the work of that Scottish genius James Clerk Maxwell.

That is, of course, subject to being able to understand and use his famous set of equations.

Member

A small number of gas customers are affected by an error in metric/imperial conversion by the energy supplier(s). Reported by E.ON to Ofgem. Ofgem have issued the following instructions to all energy suppliers who are involved. Those overcharged will be refunded plus interest and given an ex gratia payment. Those undercharged will not have to pay the difference; vulnerable customers will be given transitional arrangements to help them back to a correct charging system. It seems a very fair resolution to me.

ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2016/08/open_letter_to_gas_suppliers_on_metricimperial_indicator_charging_error.pdf

Member

Some interesting comments here. I was with one of the big 6 for some 18 years or more and didn’t have many issues till a few years ago when they started to overcharge me. I switched to another one of the big 6 and am now wondering whether I should switch again. Not all energy providers notify their customers about fixed tariffs coming to an end. You would think that they would do this especially for vulnerable customers like me. No, we get treated even worse and when you try and put things write, you get fobbed off. They only take notice when you complain to the Ombudsman and even then they make a right royal mess of everything. Sometimes switching isn’t the best solution if you really want to make a huge difference to your own situation and help others. Switching doesn’t help because they still make you pay for any outstanding balance even if you don’t owe most of it. I suspect that not all vulnerable customers have had to fight tooth and nail as I have over many issues including fair energy usage costs. I also suspect that lots of people have been at an advantage because because of people like me and the causes I fight for, for free!

Member
Stephen says:
16 August 2016

It was in the sun news paper today that the energy markets no longer have to show the cheapest prices for energy so going to the comper sites is pointless and a waste of your time people should boycott them as they have made money of the unfortunate custermers

Member

Go to Which?Switch who should show all suppliers and all tariffs. No need to go anywhere else.

I’d like to see a totally independent site with no payments made to the site operators if you switch through them. I switch direct to the supplier anyway. I wonder why Ofgem don’t set up such a service.

Member
Heamoor Stooge says:
18 August 2016

I have switched my supplier over the last fifteen years or so but for a different reason. In the past I was with state owned SWEB but when that was taken over by French EDF I switched to Scottish Power. Some years ago that was swallowed up by a Spanish Energy group and so I switched to Scottish and Southern. As far as I am aware that is still a British owned consortium offering better value than British Gas which I’m never quite sure if it is British or not. Rather than for ever chasing the so called cheapest option I would prefer to see company profits remaining in this country or being re invested instead of helping shareholders of foreign companies to keep their energy costs low artificially. Are my assumptions correct or am I chasing clouds?

Member
AndyB says:
18 August 2016

Heamoor Stooge: yes you are chasing clouds. While international companies are allowed to purchase the majority of shares in our utility companies then Great Britain will always be susceptable to being held to ransom by potentially enemy states; whether they be european or in the wider world. Having French and Chinese investment in our nuclear power generation is not a sensible way to fund it. Why not issue Power Bonds instead of the Bank of England printing more money (quantative easing) and throwing that money into the bottomless pit of the banking system and the pockets of bond traders.

Member

Well said Andy !

Member
Barry Krite says:
18 August 2016

I’m on a dual energy tariff with BG, which I pay for quarterly.

I find that all of the switching tariffs that have been sent to me are very misleading , and whilst I’m told that I can save up to £400, when looking into the terms, I see that my so called savings are made up of accounts that hold onto my cash for several months at a time.

I have never seen a comparable tariff where the cost of units is lower for a quarterly account, with guaranteed savings. Only one company offered quarterly payments, but this was fraught with exclusions.

So, no I haven’t switched yet………………..

Member

Barry, I don’t know if you’ve used Which?Switch. I put in a medium user (3100 units elec, 12500 gas) and under “how would you like to pay” check direct debit and quarterly variable.

This gave the cheapest BG as £1030, but 8 other suppliers cheaper, down to npower £745.40. Even Sainsbury were there at £852, and they are a BG “White label” – reselling BG but the responsible provider is still BG.

Member
Clive says:
18 August 2016

Before I consider switching providers I first check the feedback of the potential new provider, and this seems to me where it falls down, a lot of the new and cheaper providers have shocking feedback and I’m not sure I want go down that path, also it always seems to be a good deal but when you get down to the nitty gritty there doesn’t seem to be a lot in it, so yes I am reluctant to move. Wouldn’t it be a better idea for them all to charge the same price for gas and electric, then go with the provider that offers the best customer service? This is when I would consider switching.

Member

I’m with Scottish Power and while they were a reasonable company when I first went with them, since being owned by the Spanish company Iberdrola they have year on year become an appalling company to deal with. Their service is non existent they constantly alter Direct Debit collection payments without notification, and calling them to get the payments reduced can take upto an hour before you actually speak to someone. How much are UK customers paying to reduce that company’s debt of £23bn ? I would love to switch to a more reliable company, unfortunately I have no faith in any energy provider nor do I have faith in the CMA as they only serve the interests of the energy suppliers…just like OFCOM only serves the interests of BT.

Member
M. Pilkington says:
18 August 2016

It is all very well suggesting that we switch suppliers…it is fine if you are happy to pay for your energy by direct debit…….then switching is a simple process, but try and find an energy supplier who will allow you to pay by any other method than direct debit and you are stumped.
I pay my bills electronically on the day they drop on my mat. I have dual energy supplier discount, I have prompt payment discount…..but these discounts are paltry.
I can’t switch because all the best tariffs require a sign up to direct debit.

Member
Maureen Lyon says:
18 August 2016

I am with the energy supplier because it is all from renewable sources, and always has been. I also get high quality service and was recently transferred to a good new deal through a 38 degrees campaign.

Member
Phil says:
18 August 2016

Be aware that if you have a “smart” meter it may have to be changed if you switch supplier. There is no common standard and one company’s meters may not communicate with another’s system. Although hidden this represents an ongoing cost to consumers of £150-£200 every time you switch which will be added to your bill in some shape or form.

A friend of mine who has just been through this asked what happened to the old meters and was told that they simply get thrown away.

Member

Which say ( which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/smart-meters-explained/getting-a-smart-meter-installed/ )
“If the smart meter installed isn’t compliant with the official roll-out specification, the supplier would need to upgrade your meter between 2016 and 2020 to bring it into the DCC communications system. The national campaign for the roll-out, Smart Energy GB, says it believes this upgrade can be done remotely and will not require an extra visit.”

Why on earth Smart Energy GB need to waste taxpayers money on expensive Gaz and Leccy cartoons beats me. What does it tell you about smart meters? Or about Smart Energy? Just perhaps they see us all as children. The facts about smart meters are far from convincing. 🙁

Member

Last paragraph Malcolm , quite right . It is advertising policy to show adverts that are aimed (patronizingly ) at the lowest grade of Gallup Polls scale of public intelligence . To them they think they get their “message ” across to the widest audience , this now applies right across the advertising board , and honestly , makes me livid , if I could get a hold of those “chancers” I wouldnt be responsible for my actions . They are to blame for helping “brainwash ” the public into buying rubbish products that last a year, if you are lucky , and then break down or offer things or beauty products that are in the realm of the World of Disney , it beats me how seemingly intelligent people fall for those products obviously I dont have a “herd instinct ” brain.

Member
Phil says:
18 August 2016

Smart meters are one of the biggest cons out in my opinion. A complete waste of money which would be better invested in building more capacity.

Member

duncan, I think its just a stock solution from overpaid marketing people to put expensive campaigns on expensive media. I am not being sold anything; smart meters are being foisted upon us (free of charge – apart from paying for them through our future bills). So why do I need some mindless animated cartoon that explains nothing?

Member
Stella Seville says:
18 August 2016

I’ve just switched to Ecotricity and was pleasantly surprised to discover their charges are lower than SSE my previous supplier and they will provide me with a monthly bill, based on my meter reading which I can pay by debit card or bank transfer as I don’t want to pay by direct debit . So far my calls have been answered promptly and efficiently.

Member
Elizabeth Pesman says:
19 August 2016

I think that the government should do more to bring down the prices. In the past I was approached by a French energy firm, but because they promote nuclear fuel, I declined.

Member

Unfortunately, principles come at a price, Elizabeth. Since all the electricity we consume comes through the same cables from whichever power stations are operating and feeding into the grid at the time it is impossible to avoid using nuclear power-generated electricity no matter which company you buy your electricity from. Some suppliers only buy fuel from certain more ethical sources which they feed into the grid but that gets mixed with power from all the other sources; it only represents a small proportion of the total supply, and overnight the predominant power source is nuclear fuel because the nuclear power stations provide the baseload of the UK’s energy resources since it cannot be switched in and out [as gas, oil, and coal can]. All the Big Six power companies rely on nuclear fuel for a portion of their supply even if they might not generate it themselves, and most of the smaller companies could not trade without buying nuclear-generated power at some point.

Member
david lyon says:
19 August 2016

If anyone tells you it is easy to change your energy supplier,treat it very carefully. I switched, and 1 year later i
was stilled being chased by the ditched supplier,they even threatened to send in debt collectors,when I had cleared my account with them,.months previously. Other people have told me of similar horrors ,on changing supplier.If the supplier passes on your debt (where one did not exist) you can still gain a poor credit rating being registered. A poor credit rating will exclude you from many financial dealings.

Member
ralph says:
19 August 2016

People should be encouraged to switch to the more eco-friendly energy suppliers like ecotricity or good energy. The environment surely must be more important than money? This is th only way we will be able to send a message to the corporations currently destroying th planet. Put your money where it matters and switch to eco-friendly alternatives, as you won’t be able to buy back the atmosphere no matter how much you save.

Shame on Which? for not encouraging switches for environmental reasons.

Member

Hi ralph, thanks for your comment. We try to make clear the green credentials of energy suppliers in our content about them; Good Energy’s page is here: http://www.which.co.uk/energy/saving-money/guides/small-energy-companies/good-energy/

We also appreciate that eco-friendly credentials of energy suppliers are crucial to some customers. Following our most recent survey, we focused on the performance of green energy companies in this piece: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/02/are-green-energy-companies-any-good-432097/

Member
Anne RoBB says:
19 August 2016

I am with First Utility for gas and elec. anyone else with them and how do they rate.

Member
Stella says:
20 August 2016

I’ve tried numerous times to get a bill, but cannot get one ??????? There is not even the option. All you can do is provide your own readings, but no matter what you submit the direct debit stays the same and they only tell you your annual usage. Al I want to know is how much do I owe today ? Eon can do this , why can’t first utility.

Member

Stella I am on First Utility,s website on another browser , in Smart bill I have a sample statement of -previous balance and payment received with the total monetary amount in both cases in the rhs column in Summary. Below it on the same bill -s-new charges (payment type DD ) both for gas and electricity in the rhs column below is the final total so I dont understand how you can not get access to that- look at- first-utility.com/energy/understanding-your-bill. I should add that a statement period is included-IE- from xxxx- to-xxxx-4 monthly period.

Member

Switching is all very well if you just need a standard tariff or Economy 7. I am (un?)fortunate enough to still be on an old “Warmwise” tariff. This provides 8 hours of heating per day and, crucially, 2 of those hours are in the afternoon. This provides a welcome boost for space heating – we only have 3 storage radiators in the whole house to keep warm, except in the depths of winter when we need to supplement it with full price electricity. The tariff also provides a useful top-up for our two hot water cylinders. And it is still guaranteed to be the cheapest off peak electricity from EDF (by about 0.001p per kWh).

It would be far more useful if the regulator ensured that electricity supply companies charged in line with wholesale energy prices; they are quick enough to increase prices, but we have been living with cheap oil for over a year and I haven’t seen any decrease in the tariff. OK, so EDF are largely nuclear, but that is their problem, not mine. Anyway, nuclear is charged for according to what the market will bear for fossil fuels, and not whole of life costs.

In summary, how am I supposed to switch to a “cheaper” tariff, when there is no equivalent, yet my current supplier is not the cheapest in the market? A free market economy is not the only solution to the problem, and it can’t fix everything. Like having no gas in the village even though we are within 15 miles of Gatwick – hardly the back of beyond.

Member
Dave says:
22 August 2016

I don’t see the point in switching.
If you switch your supplier and get a good deal, I find that 6 to 12 months down the line your no better off than you were when you switched supplier.
Reason? because your new supplier puts their price up and your back to where you started from.
Whats the point?

Member

The main saving by switching is moving from a standard variable tariff to a fixed price fixed term one. This lasts at least 12 months. I’ve been on such tariffs for years now, changing to the best one each year if necessary. I have saved substantially.