What's stopping you from switching energy supplier?
More people are switching energy supplier than ever before – figures from Energy UK show that more than 5.5 million households made the switch in 2018, the highest figure since 2013.
But figures from Ofgem’s 2018 State of the Energy Market Report show that almost two-thirds (60%) of households have changed supplier just once or have never switched, and over half (54%) of those on expensive default tariffs have been on them for over three years.
This means the majority of households are paying over the odds for their gas and electricity, potentially by hundreds of pounds a year – the Ofgem figures also show that, from June 2017 to June 2018, the difference between the average standard variable tariff price of the six large suppliers and the cheapest market tariff was on average £320.
So, given the potential savings on offer, what’s stopping people from switching?
What are the main barriers to switching energy supplier?
Switching energy supplier is a quick and easy way to cut hundreds of pounds off the cost of your energy bills – it only takes a few minutes to run an energy comparison, and once you’ve picked your preferred deal, you’ll be switched within a couple of weeks.
But it seems there are a few misconceptions when it comes to switching, and people don’t feel like they know enough about the deals on offer, don’t think they’ll save enough, or think that switching is more hassle than it’s worth.
Here are some of the main reasons UK households refuse to switch:
Switching energy isn’t a priority
Although switching supplier is a quick way to cut household bills, many simply don’t know enough about the switching process and fail to prioritise switching supplier as part of their household budgeting.
Citizens Advice has found that low-income households are least likely to know the type of tariff they’re on and are, in turn, least likely to switch to a better deal.
Jo Boswell, Energy Manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, explains: “For some people, switching energy suppliers is not a priority. When you have very little money, everything is a worry and survival is the only priority.”
A lack of trust in the switching process
There also appears to be a level of mistrust in the switching process, with some consumers unaware that the Energy Switch Guarantee ensures that switches are complete within 21 days, and that you won’t be left without gas or electricity at any point during the switching process.
This switching window also includes a 14-day cooling off period, during which time you can cancel the switch without incurring a penalty charge.
William Jones from Ceredigion Citizens Advice, explains why trust is an issue: “When you are on a low income, and or struggling to budget, you can become quite risk averse to switching supplier, or other methods to save money on your energy bills. Building a level of trust with people is so important, and people are far more receptive to advice when you do so.”
Happy with existing supplier
It’s also the case that many households are happy with their current supplier, and figures from Citizens Advice show that this brand loyalty is most prevalent among older consumers, with over half (55%) of energy customers aged 55 and over believing they’re on a good deal.
But loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to energy contracts, and the fact is that if you’re on your supplier’s standard variable tariff, you’ll be overpaying for energy. And even if you’re a regular switcher, but switch between tariffs from the same supplier, you’ll likely be missing out on cheaper deals elsewhere.
Living in a certian area
The part of the country in which you live could also have an impact on your switching habits, as research from Experian has found certain places in the UK are less likely to switch than others – does your area make either list?
The top 5 towns and areas most likely to switch (outside London)
- St Albans
- Bishops Stortford
The 5 towns and areas least likely to switch
- Birmingham Central
- Birmingham Gravely Hill
- Manchester Central
- Kings Lynn
Being on a time of use tariff
It seems customers on time of use tariffs, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, which charges different rates at different times of day, have trouble switching because other suppliers refuse to take them on or have difficulty migrating their time of use contracts.
Customers on time of use contracts have also found that they can struggle to switch deals as price comparison services don’t return accurate enough results, or the cost of swapping meters is prohibitive (time of use contracts need special meters that display the different rates).
Switching is too much hassle
Possibly the most common misconception is that switching supplier is too much hassle, but the reality is that you can run a comprehensive energy price comparison in a matter of minutes, and be switched to a new supplier within 21 days.
To run a price comparison, enter your postcode in the box at the top of the page, and you’ll be redirected to our switching engine – simply enter a few more details about your current supplier and energy usage, and we’ll instantly return a range of deals that will save you money.
The only thing you then need to do is choose the deal you prefer - we’ll take care of the rest of the switch, and you’ll be enjoying cheaper energy bills within a matter of weeks. It really is that simple.
Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.