Switching supplier – are you missing out?
By Sophie Gackowski Wednesday 21 October 2015
In the spirit of Big Energy Saving Week, we thought we’d ask a question: are you missing out by not switching energy supplier? The campaign’s motto is “check, switch, save” – but many of us are still staying put, let alone checking whether we should or not. According to a recent YouGov PLC poll, a whopping 66% of us feel there’s very little to nothing we can do about the price of our energy bills - so it’s little wonder over half of us have always been with the same supplier.
Switching supplier is, however, one of the best ways to reduce the price of your energy bills, which is why Energy regulator Ofgem has recently made a few changes: to ensure you’re treated fairly, to ensure you know the score, and to ensure it’s easier than ever to shop around and get the best deal. And on that note, here’s what you need to know.
So why don't we switch?
One word: hassle. Although a survey suggests 89% of us know we can, only a quarter of us have actually changed provider in the past three years. It’s just easier to stay with the same energy provider, even if it’d save a few pounds right? Well, not really. One of the key focuses of Big Energy Saving Week is to make it even easier to switch suppliers – and to make consumers aware of just how easy it is. It takes just a few minutes to find a better deal.
Here are your main concerns, quashed.
- Switching will require a lot of paperwork.
Your new provider needs some details (name, address and postcode) and a current meter reading. That’s it: no need to rummage around in the loft.
- I’ll have to pay to leave my current supplier.
Maybe true, but even if you do, you could stand to save a lot more. It’s always worth weighing up whether the savings with your new supplier will justify the exit fee from your current supplier. In many cases, the savings will - think of it as an investment for the long-term
- I don’t have a choice in switching: I’m renting, or in debt to my supplier.
Not necessarily true. Tenants are free to choose their energy supplier if they pay the supplier directly. As for debts, customers with a pay as you go meter and debts that do not exceed £500 per fuel can switch.
So I can switch… but what happens if I don't?
If you stay with the same supplier, the likelihood is you are paying more than you have to. This year’s CMA Investigation on Energy Retail showed that around 70% of Big Six customers are on their most expensive tariffs. If you haven’t switched or re-fixed with your current supplier, you’re probably on an expensive Standard Variable tariff - unlike others, this tariff has no actual end date, meaning your supplier can keep you on it indefinitely.
This could be why the CMA found that 95% of Big Six dual-fuel customers could have saved between £158 - £234 per year, if they’d switched supplier(s) or tariff between 2012 and 2014. Or approximately £218 - according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change stats - if they’d switched to one of our fixed plans here at OVO.
The key point: if you don’t switch, you’re probably missing out.
What exactly am I missing out on by not switching?
Mainly, big savings. It’s always worth checking if you could be on a better deal. Certain customers may also be entitled to money off their energy bills, such as the Warm Home Discount, while others can save on paperless bills and simply paying by direct debit. Not all suppliers have to offer these perks in conjunction with their deals. So they don’t.
Finances aside, you could also be missing out on communication and trust. If you think you have a faulty meter, need to settle debts manageably, or want to know about benefits you could be entitled to, it’s best to be with a company that understands. Cheapest doesn’t mean best – but not all companies compromise service for costs.
In fact, the top ten energy companies according to the Which? satisfaction survey 2015 (which includes us at number four!) are all small suppliers. And some will offer smartphone apps, or the ability to manage your account more easily. Here at OVO, we have a range of extra benefits, like offering smart meters.
Ok, I’m considering it. But what does switching actually entail?
- Choose a deal.
Once you’ve decided on a deal, you can switch via the internet price comparison site you’ve used to find it, or call the supplier directly. They’ll require some basic billing info, and will then open your new account. They’ll also take a meter reading.
- Settle your bills.
Your old supplier will be informed by the new supplier, and will send you a final bill detailing moneys due or moneys owed to you. Pay up, and you’re off! Remember to cancel any direct debits or standing orders through your bank after settling.
- Take time to be sure.
You’ll have 14 days to change your mind. At this point, you won’t have to pay an exit fee. However, if you wish to leave your fixed contract after this point, you will incur exit fees.
- You’ve successfully switched!
It can take up to five weeks to switch, but it typically takes just three. And don’t worry: if your supplier ups the prices before the switch, you’ll have 30 days after they’ve informed you of the price hike (another new rule from Ofgem) to switch again without any fee.
If there’s one thing to take from Big Energy Saving Week, it’s that when it comes to switching supplier: you don’t want to miss out. Now you’re in-the-know, take the opportunity to check, switch and save by browsing for a better deal. It only takes a few minutes, so why not get a quote from us today?
And if you want to know even more about the switching process, simply head on over and get involved with this year’s Big Energy Saving Week campaign or test your skills with this quiz.
All stats taken from: