Consumers urged to switch from standard tariffs to save on energy bills
Three quarters of British Gas customers are stuck on the company’s most expensive tariff and could save £174 by switching to a cheaper supplier, new Ofgem figures show.
Some 74% of British Gas customers, or 6,639,056 households, are paying an average £1,044 a year for their energy, and could save £129 just by switching to a cheaper deal with the same company, the regulator’s first company league table shows.
The 91% of SSE’s customers on the most expensive deal – 3.8 million households – could save £198 by moving to a cheaper company, and 59% of npower’s customers – 1.7 million households – could pay £208 less a year by switching.
The 14% of Extra Energy’s customers still on its most expensive standard variable tariff, numbering 36,641, could save £260 a year by switching to one of the cheapest suppliers on the market, or £154 by opting for a better deal with Extra.
Among The Co-operative Energy’s customers, 42%, or 96,158, are on the most expensive deal and could save £252 by switching.
The league table compares the most expensive standard tariffs with the cheapest deals on the market to provide greater transparency to consumers.
Energy Secretary Greg Clark said the table will instantly show consumers where they can save money and increase transparency around the “millions” of
Britons who are overpaying for their energy by remaining on the most expensive deals.
The table compares the average energy bill paid by a household on a standard variable tariff with the larger companies with deals from the 10 cheapest suppliers.
The Government is also launching a call for evidence on allowing customers access to accurate electronic data on how much energy they use to enable them to share it securely with price comparison websites in return for individual quotes.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned in June that 70% of people were on the more expensive “default” standard variable tariff, costing consumers £1.4 billion more than a competitive market.
Ofgem said around 66% of all households remain on standard variable tariffs, which are “typically” more expensive than fixed deals.
Mr Clark said: “Millions of people across Britain continue to pay too much for their energy. The measures announced today are a positive step to help more people benefit from increased choice and competition.
“As the Government has made clear, where markets are not working for consumers – in energy or otherwise – we are prepared to act.”
Energyhelpline co-founder Mark Todd said: “If you want to be skint this Christmas there’s no better way of lightening your wallet than turning up the heating on a standard energy tariff.
“We hope this publication acts as a clarion call for consumers to ditch these horrible tariffs this Christmas. Standard energy tariffs offer almost no protection against price rises as well as very high prices. They are the worst of all worlds. Around two thirds of the population, about 40 million people, are blighted by their scourge and so considerably poorer as a result.
“The basic rule is never be on a standard variable energy tariff. They are a rip off.”
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “This league table will lift the lid on the price difference between standard tariffs and cheaper deals, helping those customers who are currently paying over the odds for their gas and electricity identify a better rate.
“We’d also like to see energy companies do more off their own back to help customers who are on a low income, like moving them to a cheaper deal.”
Energy UK figures released today show that more than four million customers switched electricity supplier this year, “eclipsing” the past three years, while more than 400,000 switched in November – the highest figure since November 2013.
British Gas said its tariffs had changed since Ofgem compiled the table, so the gap between its standard variable price and its cheapest deal had now narrowed to £43.
In a separate move today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said suppliers will be required to provide Ofgem with information to help households and microbusinesses on expensive tariffs switch to a better deal.
Ofgem will then give the information to competing energy suppliers “under strict controls” so they can offer cheaper deals direct to customers based on their actual usage.
The offers will only be made in writing and customers will be able to opt out of the scheme whenever they want to.
Roger Witcomb, chairman of the CMA’s energy market investigation, said: “These measures will reach the very customers who have been paying too much for too long.
“We know there are much cheaper deals out there and this will bring them directly to those customers, to make it as easy as possible for them to switch and save money.”