Is tradition making your energy bills bigger?

Some of us pay more for gas and electricity simply because we’re still with the same supplier we had before the industry was privatised in the late 1980s.

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If you haven’t changed your energy supplier since Mrs Thatcher’s government opened up the market to private energy companies, you could be overpaying by as much as 25% - and that’s according to new research from the energy market regulator, Ofgem.

And it’s not a small number of us, either. Ofgem says 42% of all bill payers have never switched from their ‘traditional’ supplier – the one they were with before privatisation all those years ago.

And many of those who become adults and energy consumers in the intervening years have simply inherited their supplier from the previous occupant of their home.

By MoneySuperMarket’s reckoning, all this means those of us affected are each throwing away as much as £301 a year. Collectively that’s a staggering £2.8billion.

Ditch the tradition

Those of us who’ve never ditched the tradition and started paying by direct debit each month are all missing out, but certain parts of the country are affected worse than others.

For example, gas and electricity customers in the Midlands could save £340 (or 28%) a year by switching away from their traditional supplier to a cheaper tariff.

If you live in Liverpool or North Wales, you’ll have the biggest annual bill if you’ve stuck to tradition – at an average of £1,230. Switch to a cheaper deal and you could slice that down to just £929 – a saving of £301.

And even if you’re living in the traditional Eastern region where you pay the lowest bills for sticking with the pre-privatisation supplier, you could still pay £301 less if you switch.

Note: Switching energy supplier actually now takes just 17 days

Impressive savings

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, said:  “As our research shows, impressive savings of around £300 could be made by moving away from your traditional energy supplier.

“For those who’ve switched in the past, it’s always worth having a look to see what else is on the market...”

“For those who’ve switched in the past, it’s always worth having a look to see what else is on the market. Chances are that you’ll be able to sign up to a cheaper deal if you’ve been on the same deal for more than 18 months.

“However, you must be careful not to be stung by exit fees. Switching provider 42-49 days before your end date should ensure you don’t have to fork out to change your tariff. Not having to wait until the tariff expires means you can avoid seeing your bills rocket when you’re moved to what is typically a more expensive option.”

Starting the switching process is dead simple. If you’ve got a recent energy bill, you can be done in half an hour, and it should take no longer than 17 days to complete the move to a new provider.

We’ve even written a simple guide to walk you through the process, which you’ll find here.

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.

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