February 28, 2017
The number of households switching energy supplier hit a six-year high last year as savvy consumers shopped around for a better deal.
28% more customers switched in 2016 than in 2015 - a total of 7.7 million transfers. This included 4.4 million electricity switches and 3.4 million gas switches - this is an increase of 30% for electricity and 24% for gas switches. Officially making it highest level of switching since 2010.
Of these switches, nearly half (47%) were to small or medium suppliers as they continued to attract growing numbers of customers.
In recent weeks some suppliers have announced price rises for customers on standard variable tariffs, which are typically more expensive than fixed deals.
With savings of around £230 a year on offer from switching to the cheapest deals, it's even more important now to compare tariffs.
It's never been easier to change supplier, as the vast majority of switches take three weeks to complete including a 14 day 'cooling off' period. Compare this to three years ago when it took around five weeks to switch supplier.
Despite rising switching rates, however, around two-thirds of customers still remain on standard variable tariffs and are spending more than they need to on their energy bills.
Ofgem's CEO Dermot Nolan comments:
"This welcome increase in switching should serve as a warning to supply companies. If they fail to keep prices under control or do not provide a good service, they risk being punished as customers vote with their feet.
"While today's figures show good progress, the market is not as competitive as we would like. That is why we have put a temporary price cap in place to protect people on prepayment meters who have the least access to competitive deals and why we are pursuing a raft of reforms which will make this market fairer, smarter and more competitive for consumers."
"Big savings of around £230 are available and switching has never been easier, so we would urge everyone to shop around for a better deal, especially if their supplier announces a price rise."
Energylinx offer a free and impartial switching service. You can speak to one of our knowledgeable advisors by call 01259 22000 or by visiting www.energylinx.co.uk.
Posted on February 28, 2017 at 02:54 PM
February 21, 2017
2017 is off to an expensive start for consumers, with 3 of the UK biggest energy suppliers announcing price increases.
There was some good news for customers of British Gas. The supplier announced earlier this month that it's keeping its current gas and electricity prices the same until August 2017. The "Big Six" Energy Supplier claims it is able to freeze energy bills in the face of higher wholesale prices by cutting costs.
So far, British Gas is the only supplier to announce a price freeze that will take customers through until the summer with SSE and E.ON saying that prices will remain the same for customers until April 1st 2017.
Customers with Scottish Power, Npower and EDF Energy can all expect higher than normal bills from March:
• Scottish Power's standard electricity prices will increase by an average of 10.8% and gas prices by 4.7%. About one third of its customers - 1.1 million people - will be affected by the change.
• Npower is raising its standard tariff electricity prices by 15% from 16 March, and gas prices by 4.8%.
• EDF Energy cut its gas prices by 5.2% in January, but its electricity prices are due to rise by 8.4% on 1 March.
Announcing the price increases, Colin McNeill, UK retail director for Scottish Power said: "This price change follows months of cost increases that have already led to significant rises in fixed price products that now unfortunately have to be reflected in standard prices."
In a statement, energy regulator Ofgem said: "We would urge consumers to take advantage of the deals available from the many different suppliers and to shop around for a better deal if their supplier puts up their prices. This will put pressure on all suppliers to ensure they run their businesses efficiently to keep any impact on bills as low as possible."
When Npower announced its price rises, Ofgem told the supplier to "justify" to its customers why it was introducing one of the largest increases for years.
Energy price rises are likely to fuel inflation concerns.
Rising air fares and food prices helped to push up UK inflation to 1.6% in December, its highest rate since July 2014.
The only way to stop the price hike is to shop around, see what you could save by comparing energy suppliers today. Energylinx offer a free and impartial online comparison and switching service. If you would rather speak to one of our advisors, our call centre is open Monday to Friday 09:00 - 08:00, Saturday 09:00 - 17:00 and Sunday 10:00 - 17:00.
Posted on February 21, 2017 at 03:21 PM
February 8, 2017
The temporary price cap is one of the Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) remedies resulting from its two year investigation of the energy market.
The cap will initially apply to over four million households who prepay for their energy, mostly with traditional prepayment meters, and are amongst those least able to benefit from competition.
The levels of the cap vary for electricity and gas, by meter type and region.
Ofgem estimates that many prepayment customers are likely to see reductions in their gas bill of around 10-15% from 1 April 2017 or around £80 a year based on a typical household's consumption.
Many prepayment customers who use electricity to heat their home such as those on Economy 7 meters will see their electricity bill fall, with reductions of around £80 a year based on a typical household's consumption.
The CMA found that prepayment meter customers face particularly high levels of detriment.
Competition among suppliers for prepayment customers is less developed than for those who pay by direct debit, cash or cheque. This means that there are fewer tariffs available to these customers and the tariffs that are available are generally more expensive.
Customers with prepayment meters are also more likely to be in vulnerable circumstances than those paying by other means.
The cap is due to expire at the end of 2020 when the roll out of smart meters is set to be completed, which will help prepayment meter customers in particular access better deals.
Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, said:
"We want all consumers to enjoy the benefits of a more competitive energy market, regardless of their circumstances. Customers who prepay for their energy are denied the best deals on the market available to those using other payment methods. They are also more likely to be in vulnerable circumstances, including fuel poverty. This temporary cap will protect these households as we work to deliver a more competitive, fairer and smarter market for all consumers."
Posted on February 8, 2017 at 03:25 PM
February 3, 2017
Npower becomes the First of the "Big Six" Energy Suppliers to Announce a Price Increase in 2017.
Npower has announced that, for the first time since October 2013, it is to increase a typical dual fuel annual energy bill by on average 9.8% or £109. This is made up of an average increase of 4.8% on gas and 15% on electricity and will affect the customers currently on the npower's standard tariff.
The new charges will come into effect on 16th March and will impact approximately 50% (1.4m) of npower's customers. Half (1.4m) will not receive a price increase. This is because npower has a higher percentage of fixed-rate tariff customers than most large suppliers, and because pre-payment customers are not affected. Npower is also launching an exclusive four year fixed term tariff for current standard customers, where the exit fee has been waived in recognition for their loyalty.
Today's increase includes a change to npower's standing charge of £55 for electricity.
Since npower last raised its prices three years ago, there have been increases in wholesale energy costs and rises in the cost of delivering government policies, such as smart metering, renewables obligation and the capacity market. This trend is set to continue, with network and policy costs representing an increasing share of domestic electricity bills.
To provide certainty around future energy bills, fixed tariffs can provide reassurance for existing and new customers. Npower offers a range of fixed products to suit varying customer needs. These range from short and medium term fixed tariffs to the longest fix on the market, which fixes energy prices until 2021, with Super Fix March 2021.
Simon Stacey, managing director domestic markets, said:
"This is a hugely difficult decision, and we've delayed the date this takes effect until after the coldest months of the year. We've also made sure that our most vulnerable customers won't see any impact until May. Npower has some of the most engaged customers of any major supplier - one million of our customers switched to another of our tariffs last year and around half of our customers aren't on a standard variable tariff (SVT). To encourage even more engagement, today we're launching a fixed tariff just for our existing customers who are still on an SVT, that will fix energy prices for the next four years with no exit fees."
"npower operates one of the broadest range of support schemes of any supplier, offering the widest and most diverse care programmes for vulnerable customers and those who are struggling with their energy bills. We're already delaying the impact of the increase for vulnerable customers, but anyone who is struggling with their energy bills should contact us straight away to discuss whether they're on the right tariff for their needs, energy saving help and bespoke payment plans."
The reaction to the prize hike has been negative with consumer groups and the government speaking out. A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government was concerned about npower's decision to raise prices.
"This government is committed to getting the best deal for households and is concerned by npower's plans to increase prices for customers who are already paying more than they need to. Suppliers are protected from recent fluctuations in the price of wholesale energy, which they buy up to two years in advance, and prices remain significantly lower than in 2014,"
"We expect energy companies to treat all their customers fairly and have been clear that, wherever markets are not working for consumers, we are prepared to act."
It is expected that the rest of the "Big Six" will follow suit, so don't wait around. Compare tariffs today and see what you could save. Energylinx offer a free and impartial energy comparison and switching service online or you can call one of our expert advisors on 01259 220000 and they will be able to talk you through your options.
Posted on February 3, 2017 at 01:59 PM