Major suppliers have offered energy packages that could help to reduce winter fuel bills to try and limit the impact of high fuel prices on struggling consumers.
Which? attended an energy summit with the major energy suppliers, government and other consumer groups on Monday. To coincide with the meeting, some of the major suppliers have announced measures that they think could help people spend less on energy.
Long road ahead
Which? is pleased that the companies are taking the first step to restore consumer trust, but there is still a long road ahead.
In anticipation of the summit, Richard Lloyd wrote on Which? Conversation: ‘The energy summit is just one of the first steps on the long road to a better energy market.’
He added: ‘We’re going to be there at every step – tackling confusing tariffs, exposing poor energy advice, and working with the government and Ofgem to instigate the change that you want to see.’
British Gas announced a pledge to freeze their prices this winter, via a ‘warmer winter package’ that also promises to give free loft and cavity wall insulation to all of their dual fuel customers.
They also said that they have the ‘broadest eligibility criteria’ for the warm home discount scheme – where vulnerable customers can apply for a discount of £120 off their energy.
Eon also pledged not to raise prices this winter and add signposting on people’s bills to signpost where they could save money such as switching to a different payment option.
They also said that an extra 75 energy assessors will be recruited to help vulnerable people. The assessors will carry out home visits and give advice on how vulnerable customers can reduce energy bills.
Npower has also frozen its prices, however this is only applicable to those on standard residential tariffs.
It has also joined other major suppliers in deciding to end doorstep selling – good news for consumers who have told us they do not like being sold energy products on the doorstep.
Scottish Power has also frozen prices, and says that they will not raise prices on standard tariffs until at least 1 April 2012. They will be writing to all customers who pay by cash or cheque to let them know how they could save with different payment options.
They will also be introducing flexible payment options, which means that vulnerable customers may be able to delay debt repayments until after winter.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
In a package announced last week, SSE promised to increase the number of customers who would receive the warm home discount, as well as new payment arrangements for customers who may have trouble paying bills.
Check, switch, insulate to save
After Monday’s summit the Department of Energy and Climate Change launched the ‘Check, switch, insulate to save’ campaign on Directgov.
The aim of the campaign is to help people save money by getting them on the cheapest payment option via their cheapest supplier and also encourage them to take energy-saving measures such as installing insulation before winter.