‘Be an energy shopper’ campaign bolstered by CMA report

Roughly half of UK households are missing out on big savings because they stick with a more expensive energy supplier than they need to – to the tune of £2.7 billion, according to the government.

A major advertising campaign has been launched by the Department of Energy & Climate Change and Ofgem, the energy market regulator, to encourage more people to switch.

The Power to Switch campaign points out that savings of up to £200 are available to those who move to a cheaper tariff.

Competition investigation

The launch of the campaign coincides with an interim report into the energy market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Ofgem asked the CMA to start its work last autumn, following concerns that the Big Six energy providers – British Gas, EDF, Eon, nPower, Scottish Power and SSE – have excessive control and influence over the market.

Around 90% of customers remain with the Big Six, although challenger brands such as First Utility, Ovo and Extra energy have gained ground in recent months.

Ofgem says 60% of customers have never switched supplier since the energy market was privatised in the 1980s.

Savings and service

The CMA report, which will be followed by detailed analysis later in the year, reiterates the point about potential customer savings running into hundreds of pounds.

It also focuses on the problem of poor customer service, which has dogged many energy providers. It says complaints against Big Six firms rose fivefold in the six years to 2013.

The Big Six firms have also been criticised for announcing paltry cuts to their gas prices in recent weeks, with some firms not implementing the cuts until April, when energy consumption will fall as the weather improves.

Official support

At MoneySuperMarket, we’ve spent years helping people see how much they can save on their energy and to switch, so it is encouraging to see the government throw its considerable weight behind the issue.

More than half of MoneySuperMarket customers could save up to £210 by switching energy suppliers, according to our data.

The launch of the government’s Power to Switch Campaign, which includes the new website www.beanenergyshopper.com, confirms it, saying bill payers can save “around £200” by switching.

Power in your hands

Ed Davey, energy and climate change secretary, said: “When it comes to switching, the power is in people’s hands to get a better deal and save.”

Martin Lewis, head of our sister site Money Saving Expert, said: “We need to shout loud about the benefits of switching tariff. Too many people think energy firms are ‘all the same’. That’s far from true, there are huge differences on both price and customer service.

“The worry is that news of recent price cuts, even though they were paltry, will have given many false confidence that they’re on a decent deal. Examine the figures and the ugly truth is very different.”

Ten minutes to save

Lewis added: “Even after price cuts, someone on a Big Six supplier standard tariff with typical use will pay £1,158 a year, whereas switch to the cheapest tariff and they’d pay just over £900 a year. So it’s worth people taking 10 minutes to see if they can save themselves £250 ― at an hourly rate of £1,500 if someone else was offering this to you as work, would you turn it down?”

The launch is timely for the customers of 31 energy deals due to expire before the end of May, who will all be moved onto more expensive, standard tariffs – unless they take action to switch and save.

If your energy deal is due to expire, or you haven’t switched in a while, our energy comparison service takes 10 minutes, and will tell you how much you could save. Click here to get started.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

* 51% consumers could save up to £253.44. MoneySuperMarket data, February 2015

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