omeowners who regularly check and are prepared to switch gas and electricity tariffs get the best deals. And those who don’t are stuck with paying more. That’s not just the view of Which? Switch, the consumer champion’s free to use online and phone-based tool – or any of the other switching services.
It’s also the opinion of the boss of one of Britain’s biggest gas and electricity suppliers. Eon UK chief executive Michael Lewis recently told MPs on the Business Select Committee that: “I think it is right that somebody who engages with the market and searches for a product that is right for them gets a better deal than the person who does not.” In other words, you can save loads of money if you can be bothered to make the effort to look. But if you don’t, tough.
About one in nine UK homes – around four million – are signed up to Eon, but about two thirds remain on its standard variable tariff, meaning average consumers pay £103 a year more than on Eon’s best tariff, even more, perhaps, switching to another supplier.
It’s not just Eon. The numbers are much the same at other big suppliers such as British Gas, Npower, SSE, EDF and Scottish Power. Although British Gas says it is ending the standard variable tariff, that only applies to new customers – according to evidence delivered to MPs – and it is unclear how it will prompt existing customers to change. Power companies make their best profits from customers on their most expensive deals.
For, unlike cars or computers or kettles where paying more can often ensure more features or better reliability, forking out more for gas and electricity is a waste of money. Whatever you pay and whatever company you use, what comes through the pipes and wires is exactly the same.
Switching to something better is easy and always worth checking out, especially if you have not changed before or your last switch was more than two years ago. To start the process with Which? Switch, all you need to do is to input your postcode, whether you are a buyer or a renter,