Research by MoneySuperMarket reveals that, so far this year, two-thirds of all switches have been to one of the smaller providers rather than one of the Big Six energy companies (British Gas, EDF, Eon, nPower, Scottish Power, SSE).
The trend started when the big firms hiked their prices at the end of 2013. In April 2014 we saw the highest number of energy customers switching to smaller players as four out of five switches were made to smaller providers (just one in five moved to the Big Six).
Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “The Big Six energy providers are losing the David and Goliath switching battle as smaller suppliers have taken the majority of switching customers for well over a year. These players are helping drive down prices in the energy market.”
Why biggest ISN’T best
It’s not hard to see why smaller providers are winning the lion’s share business. They simply offer more attractive deals than their bigger rivals.
Indeed, not a single tariff from one of the Big Six providers appeared in the top 10 cheapest deals for at least six months of 2014.
Fast forward to now, and only three Big Six energy tariffs feature in the top 10.
Top of the table is Extra Energy’s Fresh Fixed Price April 2016 v1. A typical energy user would pay an average annual bill of £927.56 on this tariff – that’s £227 less than you’d pay on the average Big Six standard tariff.
Beware exit fees
If you’re planning on switching your energy deal, check your current supplier doesn’t impose an exit fee.
These are usually charged if you leave a fixed tariff before the end of the deal. If you’re on a standard tariff, then you shouldn’t have to pay an exit fee.
Exit fees are usually around £30 per fuel. Your supplier can’t charge an exit fee if you switch within 42 days of the tariff ending, leaving you free to shop around and switch in good time without penalty.
Switching should take around 17 days, which includes a 14-day cooling off period during which you can change your mind.
Don’t put energy on the back burner
You might be tempted to ignore energy bills now that the weather is finally starting to get warmer.
But if you’re on a fixed rate tariff that’s ending soon, you should start thinking now about which tariff you’re going to move to.
Stephen Murray said: “As we start to head into spring, and hopefully use the heating less, energy bills will be pushed to the back of the mind for many people. However, prices are low at the moment so homeowners should take advantage while they can.”
"Switching should take around 17 days, which includes a 14-day cooling off period during which you can change your mind..."
There are plenty of competitive fixed tariffs around.
Switch to Sainsbury’s Energy Fixed Price April 2016 tariff and you’ll be looking at average annual bills of £929.97.
First-utility’s iSave Fixed May 2016 tariff allows you to fix for an extra month. Average annual energy bills on this tariff are £933.49.
This table shows you the all the current best buy energy deals:
|Provider||Tariff||Rate Type||Average Bill||End date||Exit fee|
|Extra Energy||Fresh Fixed Price April 2016 v1||Fixed||£927.56||30/04/2016||£25 per fuel|
|Sainsbury's Energy||Fixed Price April2016||Fixed||£929.97||30/04/2016||£30 per fuel|
|First-utility||iSave Fixed May 2016||Fixed||£933.49||31/05/2016||£30 per fuel|
|Green Star Energy||Rate Saver 18 Months Fixed version 1503 Paperless||Fixed||£942.93||1 Year||£30 per fuel|
|Co-operative Energy||Fair and Square May 2016||Fixed||£944.00||31/05/2016||£30 per fuel|
|Scottish Power||Online Fixed Price Energy April 2016||Fixed||£948.98||30/04/2016||NA|
|GB Energy Supply||Premium Energy Saver||Variable||£950.74||NA||NA|
|Npower||Fixed Energy June 2016||Fixed||£955.00||30/06/2016||NA|
|Green Star Energy||Rate Saver 18 Months Fixed version 1503||Fixed||£957.93||1 Year||£30 per fuel|
|EDF Energy||Blue+ Price Promise July 2016||Fixed||£946.16||31/07/2016||NA|
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.