Energy providers: How easy is it to switch?

 
Oliver Smith
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CHANGING energy supplier is not an easy process, it can often take ample amounts of patience and perseverance, but consumers could all save money if they decided to change more often.

As Chris Huhne said in 2011, “We should be switching if we’re not on the cheapest tariff.”

Which? this week reported that UK consumers pay an additional £3.9bn a year, £217 per household, simply by not being on the cheapest energy tariffs.

MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee in December warned that energy suppliers were loading the bulk of costs onto so-called legacy customers who had never changed tariff or supplier, while offering loss-leading online deals to new customers looking to change.

As energy tariff prices can vary based on location, therefore the Citizen’s Advice Bureau advises the use of comparison sites to compare different tariffs from different suppliers.

Ofgem lists a number of accredited comparison sites that comply with its confidence code for websites that act independently of suppliers and offer fair and unbiased advice.

The list includes websites such as MoneySupermarket.com and uSwitch.com that offer some of the best information and comparisons.

Even once a new supplier has been chosen, the time that it takes for the change to be implemented can vary drastically.

First Utility, an independent energy provider that is vying to break the stranglehold of the so-called big six energy firms, on Monday launched a petition to lobby the energy industry to reduce the average switching time from five weeks to just one day.

“The energy industry needs to follow the example set by the telecoms and banking sectors. It takes just four hours to switch mobile phone providers and you can change banks in a week,” said Ian McCaig, chief executive of First Utility.

Once the change has been made customers are entitled to a 14 day cooling off period, during which they can reverse any changes at no additional cost.