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
January 30, 2017
Steve Holliday, the man who ran the National Grid for 10 years, has said that news stories raising fears about blackouts should stop as the UK has enough energy capacity to meet demand - even on the coldest days when demand is highest.
His assurance is based on the government's latest auction of capacity for power generation, which starts later today.
In it, companies will bid for subsidies to provide back-up power where and when needed. The stand-by plants will run for a few days a year during extreme conditions.
Much of the back-up will be provided by old gas and coal plants that would otherwise be scrapped. Funded by the bill-payer, they will offer a sort of power insurance policy.
Mr Holliday told BBC News:
"It's time for the headline of Blackout Britain to end - it's simply wrong. We've been talking about blackouts for 15 years every time it gets cold, but it's a scare story.
"The lights haven't gone out yet and thanks to the measures the government is putting in place this week they definitely won't go out in future. The UK has one of the most stable supplies of electricity in Europe."
The head of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), which represents firms that use a lot of energy, Jeremy Nicholson, has previously spoken out of fears about energy security but agrees the capacity auctions will secure supplies.
He told BBC News:
"The power industry makes a lot of noise about tight generating margins but somehow manages to provide plenty of capacity when it's needed.
"The capacity issue is sorted now - frankly it should have happened 5-10 years ago. Our bigger concern now is the possibility that when margins are tight, the price will shoot through the roof."
A spokesman for Energy UK, the body that represents power generators, was also confident about security of supply, saying:
"We fully support the Capacity Market and we believe it will keep the lights on in Great Britain."
The capacity auctions were originally due to supply back-up from 2018, but the government brought the scheme forward to cover next winter.
Successful bidders in the auctions will receive a payment for keeping power stations available between November and February whether or not they are generating.
Mr Holliday, who was chief executive of National Grid until July 2016, forecasts that all future talk of blackouts will stop by a revolution in flexible electricity, with customers using power when it is cheapest.
One current weapon at National Grid's disposal is a contract for flexible supply with firms which don't manufacture continuously.
The firms get compensated if they are asked to stop consuming power for a while during, say, a windless spell.
Stories in the media have reported this as risky for UK Plc. But the EIUG disagrees.
Mr Nicholson told BBC News:
"Clearly firms can benefit from being incentivised to turn down their energy use if it doesn't affect their production. Firms needing continuous production don't turn off their power."
Posted on January 30, 2017 at 11:11 AM
January 18, 2017
Npower have launched a new fixed term tariff -protect and Fix November 2018.
With Protect and Fix November 2018 customers can fix your gas and electricity prices until the 30th November 2018 plus this tariff comes with 2 battery operated Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
• Prices are fixed at the rates you sign up to until 30th November 2018 when customers will revert to Npower's cheapest Standard variable tariff applicable to them.
• £1,141 * is the average annual cost for electricity & gas. Annual cost for individual customers will vary and maybe higher than our standard charges.
• This tariff comes with 2 battery operated Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
• Customers will need to be a dual fuel customer with both fuels on this tariff and pay by monthly or quarterly variable Direct Debit to be eligible.
• As with all npower tariffs a standing charge applies.
With Protect and Fix November 2018, customers will get a continuous discount in a lower daily standing charge when they pay by Direct Debit. The discount is worth £90 over each year if they pay for both electricity and gas by Direct Debit and comprises a discount of £40 on electricity charges and £50 on gas charges.
Customers need to manage their account online and receive bills and key communications via email
An early exit fee of £50 per fuel may apply if a customer changes their tariff or supplier before 13th October 2018.
To find out more about this tariff visit our free and easy-to-use energy comparison website or call one of our advisors on 01259 220000. Terms and conditions apply.
Posted on January 18, 2017 at 05:31 PM
January 13, 2017
Last year's switching numbers are in... nearly a million more households switched their energy supplier in 2016, compared to 2015.
The latest Energy UK electricity switching data, published today, reveals the overall number of electricity switches in 2016 reached 4.8 million. This is a record high since 2013 when Energy UK started publishing data, and up by a quarter (26%) on 2015.
This continues the trend of increasing overall switching figures for the past two years. The average number of monthly switches was over 400,000 in 2016.
In December, the number of switches reached 449,921, up by a third (33%) compared to December 2015. One in five (22% of those electricity switches in December were to a smaller supplier.
The introduction of the Energy Switch Guarantee last year also helped make switching easier and provided greater confidence for customers when switching supplier. New research for the Guarantee also reveals nine in ten (89%) people were satisfied with the overall switching process.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK said:
"It is fantastic that switching levels are continuing to soar with almost five million households changing supplier last year.
Across the industry, energy companies are doing more to engage with all of their customers, making it easier for people to be on the right tariff whether that's with their current supplier or by switching to one of the 40 plus suppliers active in the market.
The Energy Switch Guarantee also means it is simple, speedy and safe to switch so people should check to see if they are on the best deal for them and if not - switch."
The publicity around the CMA's report in to the energy industry would of also encouraged consumers to switch... let's hope the trend continues. Energylinx offer a free and impartial online energy comparison service. If you would rather discuss your options, you can call one of our knowledgeable energy advisors on 01259 220000.
Posted on January 13, 2017 at 12:59 PM
January 4, 2017
It's winter and whilst (so far) it's been a relatively mild one, a recent survey for Which? Consumer Insights Tracker found that 64% of the 2000 people said they were worried about energy prices - a rise of 8% since September.
Bad news for energy suppliers as they were voted more distrusted than banks and mobile networks as distrust in them rose from 6% to 35% over 4 months. Only car dealers fared worse at 55%.
Trust in the energy sector dropped by 3% to 32%. Out of the 13 sectors examined by the survey just three scored lower - train companies, car dealers and long-term financial products.
Towards the end of last year British Gas, EDF, SSE, Good Energy and Utilitia all announced price freezes for the 2016/17 winter season.
Which? managing director for home and legal services Alex Neill said:
"With price hikes due later this year, temporary fixes from suppliers are just not enough to help people stuck on the most expensive deals. Energy companies will have no one else to blame but themselves if the government and the regulator have to step in and intervene."
As part of Which? Fair Energy Prices campaign, the consumer group has invited suppliers to submit plans on how they could help their customers to switch from expensive standard variable tariffs to cheaper offers. There is now less than a month to go until the deadline but not a single supplier has published a plan yet.
"The clock is ticking for energy companies," added Neill. "With... trust in the industry falling, more needs to be done to move people onto better deals."
Why not use our energy bill calculator and see if you could save money on your energy bills? Energylinx offer a free and impartial service online or by calling one of our advisors on 01259 220000.
Posted on January 4, 2017 at 12:24 PM
December 14, 2016
There has been over four million customers switching electricity supplier in 2016, eclipsing the past three years of switching data produced by Energy UK.
November saw switching stay above 400,000 with more consumers looking to take advantage of the variety of deals available. This similarly is the highest figure seen since November 2013.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK said:
"A record number of people have switched electricity supplier in 2016. This is fantastic progress, but more needs to be done.
"Over forty companies across the industry, big and small, are working hard to win customers. With the Energy Switch Guarantee now in place, customers can be more confident to switch supplier. I'd encourage everyone to look at the best deal for them, whether that is one that offers a lower price or better customer service, there are choices for everyone.
"Let's make 2017 even better and make sure every family is benefitting from the best possible deal."
Energylinx make switching energy suppliers easy. Find out what you could save here or call one of our advisors on 01259 220000.
Posted on December 14, 2016 at 01:52 PM
December 9, 2016
More than 5,000 residents of park homes are set to benefit from £700,000 worth of energy bill rebates following a successful Warm Home Discount (WHD) pilot initiative.
The WHD is a government scheme, administered by Ofgem E-Serve, which may provide a £140 annual rebate on energy bills to those in or at risk of fuel poverty in Great Britain.
Up until now most people living in park homes did not qualify for WHD rebates because their energy suppliers' contract is often with the site owner, not the individual residents.
This has now changed following a successful pilot scheme in 2015-16, developed by Ofgem E-Serve, energy suppliers and Charis Grants, which provided a total of £233,520 in rebates to 1,668 residents. This was an increase in the initial target as more energy suppliers joined the scheme recognising it as an effective way to support vulnerable consumers.
This year more than 5,000 rebates, worth over £700,000, are expected to be paid out to eligible consumers who will also benefit from advice on making their homes more energy efficient.
Chris Poulton, Managing Director of Ofgem E-Serve, said: "We're pleased that more than 5,000 park home residents are able to benefit from £700,000 of extra support to help stay warm this winter. This is an important contribution to helping tackle fuel poverty for those vulnerable consumers in park homes.
"We thank the obligated suppliers and Charis Grants for working with us to develop the scheme, and hope to continue to pursue innovative ways to ensure that the WHD helps those who need it most."
Minister for Energy and Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: "It's great news that this scheme is now accessible to a broader range of people, which is an important part of our work to support low income and vulnerable households. The government's Warm Home Discount scheme is worth £320m per year and will ensure that over 2 million households receive £140 off their energy bills this winter.
"Ofgem's extension of the scheme to park homes shows government and industry working together to solve problems for hard pressed consumers."
Protecting and empowering consumers in vulnerable situations is a priority for Ofgem.
Next year, in a separate initiative, for the first time Ofgem will set a cap on prices for households with prepayment meters, which is estimated will save customers £75 a year on average.
As the WHD is designed to support vulnerable consumers, recipients must meet one of the eligibility criteria set out below.
To qualify for a payment, park home residents are required to meet one of the following criteria, in addition to paying council tax at the property:
♦ They or their partner is in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee & Savings or Pension Credit Savings
♦ They are in receipt of one of a number of means tested eligible benefits*
♦ They have a gross annual household income of less than £16,190 and the account holder is living with mental or physical disability or illness, or there is vulnerability within the home (children living in the house aged 5 or under or those of pensionable age)
♦ They have a gross annual household income of less than £16,190 and spend 10% or more of household income on energy bills to heat the property.
How to apply for the rebate
Park home residents can apply for the rebate at http://www.charisgrants.com/park-homes-warm-home-discount-scheme/ or by calling the Charis Park Homes hotline on 0330 380 1040.
Successful applicants will then be sent a cheque totalling £140 to help with energy costs.
Posted on December 9, 2016 at 11:45 AM