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Are renters missing out when it comes to switching?

Energy bills

For too long, renters have felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t switch energy providers. Saving money on household utilities isn’t just reserved for homeowners. A new Which? Switch feature helps renters see how much they could save by switching.

Until recently, I’ve been known as a serial mover. Last year alone I lived in four different flats, all over London. This isn’t because I’m a terrible housemate, quite the opposite. Past housemates, friends and even my girlfriend will tell you that much. After all, it’s impossible to tear me away from the sink, my moussakas are second to none and that I know my way around a vacuum cleaner.

This may not be the experience of many Londoners but as a renter, moving can be part and parcel of living and working in the city. And with moving, comes changing utilities and services like your energy provider.

Switching and saving

I consider myself to be fairly switched on (get it?) when it comes to saving money on household bills. That said, the first time I actually switched energy companies was back in May this year. I moved in with my girlfriend and found that we were on British Gas’ pricey standard variable tariff.

Incredibly there was some resistance from my landlord when I mentioned switching. Determined to save my own money I pushed back on the owner’s suggestions that it would be a lot of hassle and would take up some of time and I went ahead and switched. Now we’re with Solarplicity, a much smaller energy provider, using 100% renewable electricity and making a saving of around £240 a year.

Like a good employee, I switched using Which? Switch. We found it extremely easy to use – taking what little hassle there is in the switching process, out. All in all we must’ve spent no more than ten minutes filling in a handful of fields on my laptop.

Which? Switch for renters

To make life even easier for renters, we’ve launched a new energy switching service specifically for non-homeowners. The new renters option within Which? Switch lets you see what savings you could make based on the length of your tenancy, rather than a year’s fixed deal.

We believe around 4.5 million private sector rented households could be missing out on big energy savings. Like me, these people may think the best deals aren’t available to them – particularly if they don’t know whether they will be in the same property in a year – and so may be put off the cheaper fixed tariffs on offer.

In our annual energy satisfaction survey. In it, we reveal that a quarter of renters who took part have always been with their current supplier. More than half also told us they have been with their current supplier for more than five years. Of the renters we spoke to, they’re most likely to be with the Big Six (54%).

Separate research shows the vast majority of renters are aware of switching websites, but only half have ever used them before. Three in ten renters don’t think they can save money by switching. What they perhaps don’t know is they could potentially be missing out on savings of £350 on average over a year by switching from the most expensive standard variable tariff to the cheapest deal on the market.

Quick and easy energy switching

My colleague Katie was one of the first to use the tool as a renter. She switched from OVO’s standard variable tariff to First Utility’s Smart First tariff saving herself £130 a year.

If you’re a renter or know someone who is, head over to the Which? Switch site and find out how much you could save.

Which? Switch

What have been your experiences switching energy providers as a renter? Have you faced any problems?

Comments
Member

Tenants who directly pay for their energy have the right to switch supplier.
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/press-releases/tenants-energy-rights-explained

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal/how-switch-energy-supplier-if-you-re-tenant

This would have surely been worth referencing in the introduction to help tenants? It is not correct to say “Saving money on household utilities should not be reserved for homeowners.” is it? If not, perhaps the intro could be put right.

Perhaps you mean where landlords pay the energy bills? There is protection for tenants given in https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/74486/11782-resaleupdateoct05.pdf which essentially says for most you cannot be charged more than the tariff the landlord has to pay.

Member

Flat dwellers in Edinburgh tenements now have to pay for their own electricity for stair lighting. It isn’t quite renting, but is kind of similar for us as we have factors where I stay. I will try to get them to switch to the new energy company I mention below. You (everybody) may want to wish me luck.

PS: I hope ?Which will include this company in their ?Which Switch system!

Member

Thanks for flagging this @malcolm-r. That’s a pretty poor oversight on my part I must admit.

Member

You will have heard that Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a couple of days ago that “the Scottish government is to set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company by 2021. She said that the company will sell energy to customers at “as close to cost price as possible” and would give people, particularly on low incomes, more choice of which supplier to use.” (BBC News, 10/10/17)

Welcome ethical news as far as I’m concerned, responding to a certain mood to nationalise services. I hope it b****y (pardon the passion) works, first and foremost to help people, and secondly because I remain convinced that the privatised system that we have at the moment is unfair and works for far too few people. Unfair because it demands savvy, or inclination, or technological means, or knowledge, or people to help you, or all of the above. Too many of us have none of the above.

I hope very many of these people will simply turn to our publicly-owned energy company, find that it works for them, and have one less worry on their minds.

Member

Benevolent nationalisation? It’s a nice idea. Welsh Water is a similar organisation in Wales.

Member

Providing such enterprises properly cost their administrations and don’t hide costs off the balance sheet, |I’m all in favour. If we remember that there are inescapable costs – wholesale energy, network, government levies and vat, that leaves around 21% of a typical bill to play with.

A true cooperative with consumers owning the company is another way that avoids the whiff of state subsidy.

But this Convo is specifically to do with tenants. Other comments might best be moved to the “Update: will the proposed energy price cap be enough?” Convo?.

Member

Fair point re the convo having to do with tenants. I will post what I said in the Update convo and watch it getting buried in the hundreds of other comments. :o)

I like the idea of a true co-operative, but disagree with “whiff” of state subsidy, which I find unnecessarily sweeping and dismissive. Another convo too! ;o)

Member

Soiphie, the reason I mention state subsidy is because I am not clear where the money for a cap, if it is below the normal market price, is coming from. I am concerned that government may use public funds to support a political initiative.

Member

Sophie -as I posted yesterday to complete avoidance or comment by all here including Which , I am glad to see you have brought it up and got an answer . . Maybe if my posts weren’t put at the foot of convos I would feel I have not been given the “Black Spot ( as per Treasure Island ) . But now will somebody give me reasons WHY NS shouldn’t come forth with this Socialist agenda ( in the eyes of Tories ) and 90 % of Scottish antagonistic press as referenced to England ? I realise and I said TM,s move is political due to unrest in England to counteract the growing support for the Labour party. By the way in case you all forgot I have never voted for Labour in my life ( HMG please verify that ) Ian if you had taken the trouble to read my post yesterday you will find NS did NOT say – nationalise all Sco