Some energy users have been with the same supplier for 54 years or more, exclusive Which? research reveals. In sickness and in health, through price rises and prompts to switch, these customers have remained loyal to their gas and electricity provider. If this sounds like you, does your relationship with your energy supplier predate that with your partner?
A quarter of energy customers have ‘always’ been with their energy supplier, according to our survey of more than 8,000 people.*
- A fifth (21%) of people aged 75 or older told us that they’ve been with their energy supplier ‘always’. If you’re in this group, you can celebrate a golden anniversary with your firm – as you could have been one of its customer for 54 years or more.
- Of those aged between 65 and 74, a quarter (25%) say they have always been with their energy firm – potentially making them a customer for 44 years or more.
- Aged 35 and above? A quarter (24%) of those aged 35 to 44 have been with their energy supplier for 14 years.
Meanwhile, the average marriage length is 11.9 years, according to the Office of National Statistics’ latest figures (of those divorcing in 2015).
Read on to find out which firm’s customers are most loyal, and if their reasons for staying with their supplier stand up to our scrutiny.
If you’ve never switched, you should be able to save the most by finding a cheaper energy deal. Compare gas and electricity prices with our independent energy comparison website Which? Switch to see how much you could save on energy. Or phone us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.
British Gas, EDF Energy, Npower: whose customers are most loyal?
The energy market in Great Britain was privatised in the 1990s and customers split between six energy suppliers: British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE. Today these are referred to as the ‘Big Six’ and the ‘incumbent’ suppliers.
If you have always been with the same energy firm, and started paying for energy before privatisation, you’ll be supplied by one of these firms.
British Gas has the greatest percentage of customers who told us they’ve ‘always’ been with the firm. Nearly half (47%) have never switched, compared with 15% of Scottish Power’s customers who told us they have ‘always’ been with the company.
Our reviews reveal what energy customers really think of the Big Six energy firms.
If you’ve taken no action at all on your energy bills, you’ll be on your energy firm’s standard variable tariff. This is also often its most expensive deal.
Npower customers on its standard tariff have the most to save by switching, out of customers with the Big Six suppliers. Its standard tariff costs £1,186 for a year – £353 more than the current cheapest deal on the market for an average user.
Top five reasons for staying loyal to your energy company
Nearly half (47%) of people have been with their energy supplier more than five years, and a further 21% have been with them for two to five years, according to our survey.
The top reason for staying with an energy firm is being happy with the current supplier (48%), followed by believing all suppliers are the same so there’s no point in switching (22%) and having checked the prices of other suppliers and being on a good deal already (22%).
But there are big differences between the best and worst energy suppliers, according to our survey of more than 8,000 of their customers. Results reveal a 34 percentage point gap between the highest and lowest-scoring suppliers.
Even if you’re on a good energy deal now, keep an eye on your bills. Fixed energy deals usually last for one or two years; after this, you’ll be automatically moved onto your supplier’s standard tariff if you take no action. This can cost you hundreds of pounds more over a year.
If your fixed deal is coming to an end, look for a new cheap deal. Your energy supplier cannot charge you an exit fee in the last 49 days of your deal.
*Online survey of 8,657 members of the general public in Great Britain who are responsible for paying their energy bills in October 2016. Our estimates of how long people could have been customers are based on becoming a customer at 21 years old.