Is the UK a nation of switchers when it comes to energy supply?
You would think with so much choice and the constant bombardment of TV & Radio advertising by big energy brands that switching would be more common.
We surveyed our exclusive consumer panel, OpinionHive, to ask them about their energy costs, ease of switching suppliers, and how recently they had switched.
According to Ofgem research, comparing and switching suppliers or energy tariffs can make a big difference to your gas and electricity bills. They said that people who don’t switch energy suppliers pay up to £300 more every year — the cost of an average television or almost 6 times the average weekly shop.
In our survey, 77% of people believe that their energy supplier is charging them too much, leaving just 14% of people feeling happy with their energy charges. It is easy to switch your energy supplier to save money, so what might be stopping consumers from switching?
Switching energy suppliers can be a daunting and unfamiliar process. Despite today’s high energy prices, many consumers are yet to change their suppliers, meaning that they could be missing out on big savings. Energy prices are painfully high, so what’s stopping people from taking steps to cut their bills?
Those most unlikely to switch are in the households with the lowest income, with just 29% switching in those households with less than 10k a year. According to Citizen’s Advice, those on lower incomes are more likely to be on pre-payment meters and switching energy suppliers for pre-payment is not that easy and may not be a top priority or even an option for them.
Of the people that we asked, 78% pay for their electricity on with Direct Debit whilst 18% are on a higher rate pre-payment tariff and meter.
How many are switching?
Despite high prices and savings available, only 43% have changed the electricity supplier in the past two years. Switching, if you do it, does appear to be a relatively easy process, with 82% of people thinking that making a change to their energy suppliers was easy.
Another reason for lack of change may be consumer confusion with so many more suppliers to choose from than ever before. Since 2014, the number of new suppliers established each year has increased almost five-fold.
People in the UK can now choose from over 400 energy tariffs from over 70 energy suppliers — so if you’re not comfortable making choices about energy, choosing the best option can be tough. People can struggle to prioritise switching when it’s difficult or time-consuming.
Who is trying to scrimp to save money on the energy that they use?
Over half (52%) of people that we asked had tried to limit the energy they use in their homes. The number of women (55%) who try to save on their bills is slightly higher compared to men (49%).
Half of the households do try to save on energy in some way with the most common method being the old tried and tested method of simply putting on a woolly jumper, followed by more DIY interventions such as bleeding the radiators and draft excluders. Smart meters are becoming more and more popular with 31%; other fuel-saving choices are rugs, blankets and other soft furnishings are also popular at 26%.
Gas & Electricity
42% of respondents have switched their gas suppliers in the past two years. There is a large overlap with 94% of people switching their gas supplier, having also changed their electricity supply in the last 24 months.
We found that over half of the people questioned in our survey could be in a position to save money by switching their gas supplier, with only 8% of those who did switch thinking the process was difficult, this should encourage more people to change and save if they can.
So what does it mean if you live ‘off the grid’ in rural areas? Rural communities in the UK are heavily dependent upon oil for heating and domestic hot water. We asked the 6% of respondents who use heating oil their reasons and they listed: rural living; supply already being installed when they moved in; and low cost as factors for use.
How satisfied are we?
Not everyone is happy with the level of service they receive from their energy supplier, and of the 23% of people who have made a complaint to their energy supplier, just 38% were satisfied with how their complaint was resolved.
It is no wonder that British Gas is the market leader in this sector: of the Big Six energy suppliers they received some of the fewest complaints (20%) and are the only supplier to give more satisfactory resolutions than unsatisfactory – although EDF Energy is very close.
SSE received the fewest complaints (18%), while Scottish Power received both the most complaints (27%) and the least satisfactory resolutions; 57% were unsatisfied with how their complaint was resolved.
Who comes out on top?
Although renewable energy suppliers like Octopus and Bulb are thought popular, British Gas is the clear market leader, providing energy for 23% of UK households. EDF Energy, E.ON, SSE, and Scottish Power are fighting for the number 2 spot, all supplying close to 10% of households each. 10% of customers have more than one energy supplier. These figures do not include energy suppliers used for businesses, so they may differ from official counts of customers.
In early 2020, Ovo Energy will acquire SSE’s retail customers, replacing SSE in the Big Six energy suppliers who, as of Q1 2019, had a combined market share of 73% and 72% of electricity and gas supply respectively in Great Britain.
Find out more:
You can download the energy suppliers FREE fact sheet here.