Energy switching gets faster
Energy regulator Ofgem introduced new regulations on July 18 which require energy suppliers to offer customers the opportunity to switch within five working days if they want to
New rules have been introduced which means it should take no longer than five days to switch energy suppliers, compared to as much as 21 days previously.
Here, we look at what the changes mean, whether you should lock into a fixed tariff now, even if it is more expensive than the amount you are currently paying, and you can what to do if you’ve got a complaint about your current supplier.
How do the new switching rules work?
Energy regulator Ofgem introduced new regulations on July 18 which require energy suppliers to offer customers the opportunity to switch within five working days if they want to, although you can choose a longer switching service than this if you want to.
But the big problem facing households now is finding a competitive deal to switch to, with the energy price cap set to increase to more than £3,000 in October for a typical household.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com, said: “The five-day switching requirement is a huge improvement on the 21 days it currently takes to move from one energy supplier to another.
“A faster and more reliable switching programme marks a big achievement for the industry to make switching simpler and quicker - giving consumers the chance to take control of their energy bills.
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“It is unfortunate that this initiative comes at a time when good deals are few and far between and switching is at record low. Customers will only be able to truly take advantage of this when the market becomes competitive again and better deals become available."
Should you switch energy supplier?
Unfortunately, currently there are no tariffs that are much lower than the current price cap. However, there are a few fixes which cost less than the likely price cap in October, although these are usually available to existing customers only. Deals are changing all the time too, so if you find one you like, you’ll need to act quickly.
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According to Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com, if your provider offers you a fixed tariff that is no more than 55% above your current price-capped tariff, it might be worth considering.
What to do if you have a complaint about your energy supplier
The current energy crisis means that millions of gas and electricity customers have seen their direct debits jump sharply in recent months. Between February and April alone, more than 7 million energy consumers on a standard variable energy tariff saw an increase in their direct debit, with costs rising by an average of 62%.
Earlier this month (July) Ofgem told a number of energy suppliers to take “immediate and urgent action”, after a review found a range of weaknesses or failings in the way they charge customers direct debits.
More than 500,000 customers on variable energy tariffs saw their direct debits increase by more than 100% between February and April this year, prompting Ofgem to question whether direct debits are set correctly based on all relevant information available.
The regulator has now instructed suppliers to review the accounts of those whose direct debits increased by more than 100%, to assess whether such large increases were appropriate. If any direct debits have been miscalculated, suppliers must correct these and consider whether they should give a goodwill payment.
If you think your energy supplier has increased your direct debit by too much, you should contact them and find out why they it has been raised by the amount they’ve chosen. If you’re not satisfied with their response, or think you’ve been unfairly treated, you can take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman using their Complain Now service.