As the government publishes its Energy Bill, Which? is calling for energy regulator Ofgem to introduce a set of minimum standards to put an end to the confusing array of gas and electricity tariffs available.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: ‘Millions of us spend more than we need to on energy, either from being on the wrong tariff or because our homes are poorly insulated. The Energy Bill is a golden opportunity to address this.’
The government is proposing that energy suppliers should have to include information about cheaper available tariffs on customers’ bills.
A recent study carried out by the European Commission shows that more than 60% of consumers would be better off if they switched to the lowest available tariff, saving an average of £84 per year.
But as previous Which? research shows, even with this information consumers may not end up on the rate they signed up to, with one in five who switch ending up on a more expensive tariff – turning the whole process into an energy tariff lottery.
Mr Vicary-Smith adds: ‘Telling people about cheaper tariffs on their bills is meaningless if they end up paying even more when they switch.’
Minimum standards and an itemised summary
Which? is calling for changes to the Ofgem’s licence conditions to ensure that suppliers include an itemised summary box for all tariff marketing materials, and adhere to a set of minimum standards.
These should include a one month grace period with no penalties, consumers being informed if a cheaper version of their tariff becomes available, and a 12-week price-fix guarantee – so that the price can’t go up during the time it takes for the switch to be completed.
Customers switching to a dual fuel tariff with Which? Switch between 24 March and 9 September 2010 saved an annual average of £270. If you’re unsure how to switch energy company, or are switching for the first time, read our guide on switching suppliers.
Cut your energy costs
We’ve put together some tips to minimise the effect of rising gas and electricity prices in our energy-saving guide.
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You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
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