New research out this week shows that while Scots are keen bargain-hunters for many items, they don’t often apply their know-how to make sure they are getting a better deal from the energy market.
Scottish households shop around for everything in life, from holidays and insurance to gadgets and clothes – yet they don’t place the same level of importance on shopping for energy deals. In fact, 50 per cent of Scottish people admit they don’t prioritise shopping around for the best energy deal, despite the fact they could save around £200 a year by switching.
There are clear reasons why they don’t do this. In the past, they have been put off from comparing energy tariffs due to the sheer number and complexity of deals on offer. But it is now far easier to shop around as Ofgem has put in place reforms to make the energy market simpler, clearer and fairer. We are also working to make switching faster and more reliable.
Our reforms mean that since the start of 2014, each energy supplier can only offer up to four tariffs for gas, and four for electricity.
And from this month you will start to get much clearer information when you open the next bill, letter or e-mail from your supplier. On every bill you will get personalised information about the cheapest tariff your supplier can offer. You will also get an accurate projection of how much you will pay if you stay on your current tariff for the coming year, based on your own consumption. These changes make it much easier for you to compare and choose tariffs.
Ofgem has also improved consumer protection. All suppliers have to meet our enforceable standards of conduct so consumers are treated fairly. And there is now a ban on suppliers putting up their tariffs during fixed term deals – so “fixed means fixed”.
These are the biggest changes to the energy retail market since competition began in the late 1990s and we have set up www.goenergyshopping.co.uk which explains how the reforms will help you. It also tells you everything you need to know to compare deals, and be an energy shopper.
And, if the site helps you, why stop there? Tell your family and friends so they can make sure they are getting a better deal on their energy bills too.
• Rachel Fletcher is senior partner, markets, at Ofgem