2.8 million change untility supplier

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More than 2.8 million households switched gas or electricity supplier in the first seven months of 2007, energy regulator Ofgem has said. For the same period in 2006, the figure was 2.68 million.

According to Ofgem, nearly half of UK homes have changed energy supplier at least once since the market was opened up in 1998. The majority of consumers still to switch could be missing out on average annual savings of between £60 and £90. People on pre-payment energy meters – who are statistically the least likely to change supplier – could save £100 a year, said Ofgem.

Consumers can also save by paying by direct debit, rather than through quarterly billing.

"With 2.8 million households switching in the first half of the year, the heat is on suppliers to offer customers the best deal," said Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem's chief executive. "With winter drawing in, now is a good time for all households to check if they are getting a good deal for their energy."

Energy bills have been on the decrease after peaking in 2006. But in the past few days there have been renewed fears of a fresh round of hikes as oil prices have approached a record high.