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Three million households switch energy supplier this year

Written by: John Fitzsimons
There has been a significant increase in the numbers switching energy supplier. With prices on the rise, should you join them?

That’s according to figures from industry trade body Energy UK, and represents a 14% jump on the same period in 2016.

Last month alone 385,000 households moved energy supplier, up by 16% on July last year.

What’s more, there has been a significant move away from the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers – British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – with one in five switchers opting to sign up with a small or medium-sized supplier.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said it was “fantastic” to see so many people actively switching supplier.

He said: “There are now over 50 suppliers to choose from, which is driving innovation, improvements to customer service and providing an incentive to keep prices competitive as suppliers fight to keep and attract customers.”

Switching has become easier

Levels of energy switching have improved in recent years, in part due to the introduction of the Energy Switch Guarantee. Around three quarters of suppliers have signed up to the guarantee, which is a series of pledges aimed at making moving supplier much faster and easier.

Commitments include completing the switch within 21 days (including a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’ after you sign up for a new deal), that your service will not be interrupted, and that your new supplier will handle all communication with your old supplier.

Nonetheless, many households feel switching is not worth it or is too much hassle. Research from campaign group Which? found that a quarter of households have always been with the same supplier, with supplier loyalty most common among older people. For example, one in five people over 75 have never switched energy supplier.

The largest suppliers are the biggest beneficiaries of this loyalty, according to Which?, with nearly half of British Gas customers admitting they have never switched, followed by SSE with 24% of customers. Even 15% of Scottish Power customers are lifelong customers.

Energy price rises

No matter how frequently you switch, now may be a good time to shop around for a new energy tariff, as all of the ‘Big Six’ suppliers have announced price rises for 2017.

British Gas was the last of the pack, announcing electricity prices would rise by 12.5%. The price hike, which will affect more than three million customers, will take place on 15 September and will see the price of an average dual fuel bill rise by around £76 a year.

These price rises only affect customers on a supplier’s standard tariff however; this is the tariff customers move onto after an initial fixed tariff comes to an end. So you can protect yourself from further price rises for a year or more by moving to a new fixed tariff.

And with uSwitch research suggesting three in 10 Brits – the equivalent of eight million households – have already turned the heating on following the unseasonal weather, now may be a good time to compare tariffs.

See’s A guide to switching energy provider for more information on the process.

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