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.