Switching energy supplier can save you hundreds of pounds

 

Personal finance editor

Have you switched energy supplier recently? Or are you one of the millions of people who have never moved electricity and gas to another company? If you’ve been with the same energy supplier for years it’s quite likely that you are paying about £200 more than you need to for your heating and lighting.

With such decent savings to be made, I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t switch. Industry experts tell me it is because of a number of reasons, not least because people presume that it is too difficult.

Let’s put that notion to bed right now. It literally takes just a few minutes to compare energy prices at the various online comparison websites, and just a few minutes longer to arrange to have your supplier changed.

Admittedly, the process can then take a bit longer and, in the past, people have had less-than happy experiences. But the industry has been forced to up its game and improve the switching process. Yesterday, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that energy suppliers had pledged to slash switching times by half by the end of the year. But the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, declared that this was still not enough.“My long-term ambition remains to get to 24-hour switching,” he said.

That is encouraging. But is it encouraging enough to get more of you to switch? The energy industry regulator Ofgem thinks not and so has today launched a new “Be An Energy Shopper” campaign.

The watchdog claims that recent reforms have led to a simpler energy market which should mean it is easier to find a better deal. And to counter worries that energy charges are confusing and that shopping around for energy is too much hassle, it has set up a guide which covers just about  all you need to know about switching – and saving – at www.goenergyshopping.co.uk.

Yesterday, I met up with Ian McCaig, chief executive of independent supplier First Utility, to discuss switching and saving money on energy costs.

He told me: “We all spend time shopping around to save pennies on everyday items like food or petrol, but we’re often missing the opportunity of saving hundreds of pounds by not considering our energy spend. And with prices as they are today, it’s a good time not just to switch, but to fix for longer and take advantage by locking in for two or three years.”

Good advice, I’d say.

s.read@independent.co.uk

Twitter: @simonnread

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