Energylinx News

April 13, 2016

Wholesale energy prices costs at 10-year low

Wholesale energy costs are currently at their lowest price for a decade, prompting further calls for a cut in household energy bills.

ICIS Power Index have said that the cost of gas is at its lowest for ten years, with electricity costs at a nine-year low.
Despite this, the "Big Six" energy suppliers have cut gas bills by just over 5% this year, and there has been no drop in electricity charges.

However the industry points out that wholesale costs make up just 42% of a typical dual fuel bill.

Energy suppliers also buy power up to two years in advance, so what they pay for power does not necessarily reflect the current cost.

The below chart shows the breakdown of a dual fuel bill as of April 2015:

Whole_Sale Energy Costs April 2015.jpg

Source: OFGEM

It has been a mild winter, so ICIS Power Index have argued that may be a reason for the declining price of wholesale energy but this report suggests that the token price cuts energy suppliers announced at the beginning of the year are not enough. Suppliers should be dropping the gas and electricity prices customers pay by considerably more.

You can find out how much you could save on your energy bills with our free and impartial comparison and switching service. You can compare online by clicking here or by calling one of our energy advisors on 01259 220000.

Posted on April 13, 2016 at 11:33 AM

April 6, 2016

Energy and water companies join forces to protect vulnerable customers

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Energy UK and the Energy Networks Association have partnered to ensure customers that require extra help will now get a more streamlined service from water and energy companies, making it easier to get support and stay safe at home.
The new service helps those considered vulnerable.

Vulnerable customers, as defined by Energy Regulator OFGEM, are;

• Consumers of pensionable age,
• Have a disability
• Hearing and/or visual impairments,
• Long-term ill-health.

Working closely together, network operators and suppliers will signpost customers not just to their own services but where to find all the support they need from any participating water or energy company.

This means customers will no longer have to hunt around to find out how to get Braille or large print bills or to set up secure passwords so they can be assured that the water or energy employee at their door is genuine.

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive, Water UK, said:

"Water companies' customers are also energy companies' customers, so together we must help our customers to be aware of all the help available to them from their utility companies."

Also commenting on the Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy UK said:

"Customers are at the heart of what we do, so any project aimed at helping the most vulnerable is a step in the right direction. It is important for customers to know of help available from utility companies and we look forward to seeing this partnership with the water networks progress."

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association said:

"Safeguarding customers in vulnerable circumstances is a top priority for all utilities, and electricity and gas network operators are acutely aware of the vital service they provide to ensure lights stay on and homes are warm. Working together to protect those who need more information and extra support is part of good customer care and this initiative will help all utilities to improve their service."

The United Kingdom Regulators Network (UKRN) has also produced a helpful leaflet for customers with information about support services offered across the water, energy, telecoms and travel sectors. Click here to see the full leaflet.

Posted on April 6, 2016 at 02:44 PM

April 1, 2016

Energy bills fell by £46 in 2015

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The average annual household energy bill fell by £46 in 2015 according to new figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Based on OFGEM's "typical domestic consumption" household annual usage of 3,100 kWh electricity and 12,500 kWh for gas, the average combined bill dropped to £1,298. This is a 3.5% reduction from 2014.

The average gas bill fell by 5.1%. Going from £752 to £714. However, the average electricity bill fell just £8 (1.4%) from £592 to £584.

The number of households switching their energy supply rose in 2015. The total number of gas switches went up by 18.7% (to roughly 2.7 million) and the total number of electricity switches by 11.1% to around 3.4 million.

Since the beginning of 2016 all of the "Big 6" have dropped their gas prices between a tiny 5-5.4%.

Looking to save money on your energy bills? Energylinx provide an accurate comparison and switching service. All we need is your address, current energy supplier and tariff and your household usage. Click here to be taken to our easy comparison platform or call 01259 220000 to speak to one of our friendly energy advisors.

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 02:06 PM

March 28, 2016

Energy suppliers' 'back-billing' could affect 2.1 million households

Citizens Advice have estimated that as many as 2.1 million households have been hit by large late gas and electricity bills in the last year, because energy suppliers have initially undercharged them.

The charity, which provides confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other problems, made the estimate after surveying 2,000 people across the UK and found that 10% had been back-billed - where energy companies send a revised bill after undercharging.

On average the "catch up" amount was £206. Shockingly, 15% said they had been back-billed more that £250. In some case Citizens Advice seen cases of four figure sums being back-billed.

Energy suppliers can currently back-bill a customer for up to 12 months' worth of gas or electricity, even when it was the companies fault. Citizens Advice have said that in some cases customers can be back-billed for longer periods when the supplier argues the customer was at fault.

Billing errors are the biggest energy problem people contact Citizens Advice's consumer service about, with 16,000 cases seen last year.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

"Customers shouldn't have to pay the price for suppliers' mistakes. Energy bills are already high so it adds insult to injury when companies go back to customers looking for more money after they got it wrong. Particularly for suppliers who insist on payment in full, this can be a huge burden on already stretched finances.

Smart meters provide a perfect opportunity to consign back-billing to the history books. As they are rolled out across the country OFGEM should ensure suppliers reduce the length of time they can back-bill customers."

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said:

"This is very disappointing. I challenged the UK's biggest energy suppliers to bring down bills and pass on savings to consumers. They have dropped their prices which is a step in the right direction but errors on bills create unnecessary burdens and worry for hard-working people and I reiterate to all energy companies that they need to put their customers first and ensure that this does not happen.

We're installing smart meters to help people take control of their energy use and bring an end to estimated bills, as part of our plan to build a system of energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century."

Posted on March 28, 2016 at 12:33 PM

March 15, 2016

EDF Energy on top as average number of complaints fall

Citizens Advice have released their energy supplier table, with EDF Energy and SSE coming out on top. The table measures how effectively customer complaints are dealt with by the 19 biggest energy companies in the UK.

EDF Energy have narrowly taken the top spot for October to December 2015 by a margin of 0.4 points, replacing SSE who has been a permanent feature at the top of the table since it was published in its current format five years ago.

EDF Energy and SSE both have a ratio of less than 50 complaints per 100,000 customers, compared to ratio of more than 1,000 complaints per 100,000 customers for the worst performing suppliers, Extra Energy and Co-Operative Energy. Both of the worst performing companies have introduced new billing systems and the issues appear to have stemmed from there. Overall, the average complaints ratio for all companies is down with 275.2 registered per 100,000 customers, compared with 339 in the previous quarter.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: "The fallout from introducing new billing systems continues to trip up a number of suppliers.

This latest league table tells two different stories - some suppliers have again proven they're effective at dealing with customer complaints while others lag far behind. Consumers already pay over the odds for their energy bills and it's unacceptable that some are still being let down by poor customer service.

On the face of it, it is good the overall number of complaints are steadily decreasing. For those suppliers who still have a long way to go, there is an opportunity to learn from the feedback they are getting from their customers. Complaints not only give suppliers the chance to put problems right, they also provide valuable insight which can be used to improve services."

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If you aren't happy with your energy supplier, you can switch to a new one. Energylinx provide an easy comparison and switching service and you can choose the supplier that you move to. Click here to be taken to out straightforward service.

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 03:59 PM

March 10, 2016

CMA unveils plans to make the energy market more competitive

The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) have today released a report outlining remedies to address the problems holding back competition in the energy industry. The CMA will introduce these solutions following the conclusion of its investigation in June.

Does the energy market need to be more competitive?

Despite the increase in independent energy suppliers, providing competitively priced energy tariffs, 88% of UK households remain with the "Big Six" Energy suppliers; British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE.

Around 70% of those customers are STILL on the more expensive 'default' Standard Variable Tariff and the CMA's latest analysis reveals that the potential savings for these customers has risen significantly over the past 2 years - with the average customer making a potential saving of over £300 by switching to a cheaper deal!

The CMA's analysis also shows that, in total, customers could have been paying about £1.7 billion a year more than they would in a competitive market.

The CMA have proposed different remedies it believes will make the energy market more competitive. These include:

OFGEM Controlled Database of Disengaged Customers

The CMA believe that the only consumers benefiting from competitive price plans are those that actively compare energy tariffs and switch supplier. As a result the CMA have suggested an OFGEM-controlled database which will allow rival suppliers to contact customers who have been stuck on their supplier's default tariff for 3 years or more with more competitive deals. This will be subject to strict safeguards so that customers can opt out at any time and to ensure that communication meets strictly controlled criteria.

This will be interesting to see in action and how it will actually work. It will hopefully benefit those customers who have never considered the financial benefits of switching energy supplier.

Goodbye Four Tariff Rule

Previously Energy Suppliers could have as many tariffs as they choose, then OFGEM decided that each supplier should be limited to four. To encourage competition, the CMA have said today the four tariff cap has been lifted.

Energylinx is delighted that after two years of investigation, that the CMA has decided to ditch the current rules where energy suppliers can only offer four tariffs. We believe that by allowing innovation in terms of number of tariffs and structures actually increases competition and TPIs remain well placed to provide the consumer with a one stop shop to compare and switch - taking advantage of the best energy tariffs for their home.

Price Cap for Prepayment Customers

Vulnerable customers will be protected from expensive tariffs under a new price cap on prepayment meter tariffs. Part of CMA's plans include a transitional price control for the 4 million households who are on prepayment meters and that face limited competition from suppliers. Prepayment customer's ability to switch and find better deals is also far more limited than that for credit and direct debit customers.

Energylinx is pleased to see that vulnerable customers are being provided with added protection with a new price cap arrangement planned for prepayment customers, as we are active supporters of the Citizens Advice "Fair Play to Prepay" Campaign.

The energy industry was referred to the CMA, by OFGEM, in June 2014. The final report is due in June 2016.

Over the course of the investigation to date, the CMA has commissioned and completed a general survey of 7,000 domestic customers; a further survey of over 1,200 domestic tenants and received over 200 submissions from energy suppliers, generators, government bodies, consumer groups, academics and other interested parties; held over 40 formal hearings with these parties; visited power plants and customer service offices in Scotland, England and Wales.

Posted on March 10, 2016 at 10:38 AM

March 4, 2016

On a Standard Tariff with your Energy Supplier? You're paying too much.

Consumer group, Which? have asked regulators to make it easier for households to switch energy suppliers, claiming millions are paying up to £400 too much.

This is despite Energy Regulator, OFGEM, releasing figures last week that state the number of UK households switching their energy provider rose by 15% in 2015.

OFGEM say that 6.1m gas and electricity accounts had been transferred during the year - about 820,421 more than in 2014.

Although the figures show that competition in the market is improving, Which? Say that 71% of gas customers are on standard tariffs and 88% of households remained with the big six despite growth in smaller, independent suppliers - 37 firms in total, according to the Government.

Rachel Fletcher, OFGEM senior partner said:

"It's encouraging to see switching levels at their highest level for four years. With more than 30 suppliers active in the energy market and hundreds of pounds of savings to be made, it's a great opportunity to shop around."

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

"Millions of people are still paying way over the odds for their energy, and levels of switching, while increasing, are still woefully low.

We would urge all consumers, especially those on a standard tariff with the Big Six, to switch to a cheaper deal today.
The stakes are high for the outcome of the energy market investigation and consumers will be expecting action to protect the most vulnerable and bring about fairer energy prices.
"

Which? Are right. Households throughout the UK would benefit from switching energy supplier. If you are on a Standard Tariff then you will be paying more than you have to for your energy. Seriously, check it out for yourself here. It's quick, easy and you could make a substantial saving.

Posted on March 4, 2016 at 03:28 PM

February 11, 2016

Last of the "Big Six" Announce Gas Price Decrease

The last of the "Big Six" Energy Suppliers have now announced prices cuts for customers on their standard tariff gas customers.

British Gas revealed a 5.1% price reduction, followed almost instantly by EDF's announcement of a 5% cut.

British Gas's price change takes effect on the 16th of March, while EDF's kicks in eight days later. Good news to the 6.8 million British Gas and 900,000 EDF customers currently on their supplier's standard tariff, but they could still save considerably more by switching to a fixed price tariff.

At the beginning of the year pressure was mounted on the "Big Six" from politicians, the energy regulator and charities to bring the cost of energy down in line with falling wholesale costs. E.ON quickly announced a cut of 5.1% on the back of the negative publicity, followed by similar reductions by SSE, Scottish Power and Npower. Wholesale costs for gas have dropped more than 57% since 2014.

Executive director at consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd, said:

"Seeing all of the big suppliers mirror each other with small cuts in the face of falling wholesale prices will raise questions in many people's minds about whether competition is working in this market."

Wholesale costs of electricity has also dropped more than 30% since 2014 but this hasn't been reflected in any price reductions. This has led to more criticism of the energy industry.

Energy analysts at Jefferies said:

"There has still been no movement in electricity tariffs, despite a 30% fall in wholesale electricity prices since August 2014. This is likely due to increased environmental costs, which fall on electricity rather than gas, and additional network charges."

Any customers on a standard tariff, with any supplier, will be paying more than they need to be for their energy and would benefit from being on fixed term tariff.

Rachel Fletcher, OFGEM's Senior Partner for Consumers and Competition, said:

"These price cuts are a movement in the right direction for loyal customers, but they are dwarfed by the savings available by switching from a standard tariff to a fixed deal. You could save more money, up to £300, by switching."

You can see exactly how much you could be saving by doing a simple comparison on our free and impartial energy calculator. Enter a few details and we take care of the switch for you. Click here to be taken to our switching tool.

Posted on February 11, 2016 at 03:23 PM

February 9, 2016

AGE UK and E.ON put a hold on Controversial Tariff

Age UK and E.ON have suspended a branded tariff following a public backlash from the deal.

Last week the tariff came under scrutiny, after The Sun newspaper claimed that Age UK had recommended a special tariff from E.ON costing pensioners £1,049 a year - a substantial £245 more than E.ON's cheapest tariff.

It said that AGE UK received about £41 from E.ON for every person it signed up to the deal, totalling £6.3m last year. Energy Regulator, OFGEM, and the Charity Commission have said that they are currently investigating E.ON Energy's and AGE UK's behaviour.

When the tariff launched, Age UK said it was the leading nationally available tariff of its kind. AGE UK are questioning the newspaper's interpretation of the figures, including a comparison between the cost of one-year and two-year fixed deals. However, due to "continued speculation" about the partnership the tariff will be suspended from Wednesday.

In a joint statement, E.ON and Age UK said:

"E.ON and Age UK Enterprises have announced that they are temporarily to stop offering an Age UK Enterprises branded tariff to new and renewing E.ON customers from Wednesday 10 February 2016.

This decision has been reached on a mutual basis and both organisations retain confidence in the tariff offered to customers. However, due to continued speculation regarding the partnership, both organisations feel it is right to pause and reflect on the best way for both parties to achieve their shared goal of helping customers."

A member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Conservative MP Dan Poulter, has called for the two organisations to refund any pensioners that signed up to the tariff on Age UK's recommendation, to be reimbursed.

Poulter believes there is a "moral obligation" for E.ON Energy, which is one of the "Big Six" energy suppliers, and AGE UK, the UK's largest pensioner charity to compensate energy users because they appeared to have paid hundreds of pounds too much over the last year.

E.ON customers on existing Age UK Enterprises tariffs are unaffected by this move and can continue until their contract end date or move without penalty between E.ON tariffs at any point. The Age UK Enterprises tariff has no exit fees meaning customers can change supplier at any point without incurring any charge.

Posted on February 9, 2016 at 04:31 PM

February 2, 2016

Npower launch Now TV Entertainment Bundle

Npower have launched a Now TV 3 month Entertainment pass bundle offer. Customers, existing and new, will benefit from the promotion. The pass can be obtained via the Customer Offers page on Npower.com.

Launched in 2013, Now TV is a non-contract Video on Demand service powered by Sky TV. The entertainment pass gives customers 13 extra channels, that can't be found on Freeview. Popular additional channels like SKY1, Comedy Central, Discovery and MTV. Customers also have access over 250 boxsets.

To take advantage of the offer, you must be an Npower customer. If you have only transferred to Npower then you will have to wait until you have your account number or your online account number login details to be able to qualify.

Once you have these details, login and visit the Customer Offers page where you will see all the terms and conditions and a link to on the npower.com home page. Look for the NOW TV offer, use your online account log in or customer reference number to verify that you are indeed an Npower customer. Follow the on-screen prompts to get your code. Easy!

If, for whatever reason, the code doesn't work or you struggle to redeem it, please call 01565 831122.

Posted on February 2, 2016 at 09:00 AM