Ditch the Big Six – Small suppliers offering the best deals

Households are being urged to think outside of the 'big six' suppliers as smaller energy companies offer better deals.

fire placeLooking to save on your energy bill but think all suppliers are the same?

npower’s decision to remove its cheapest plan means the five cheapest plans on the market all come from smaller suppliers, leaving many customers with the difficult decision of moving away from the six biggest energy suppliers.

Of the ‘big six’ supplier EDF Energy is the cheapest, but while its Blue + Price Promise costs £1,182 a year, Sainsbury’s Energy has the cheapest deal on the market at £1,123 a year – £59 a year cheaper. Sainsbury’s is closely followed by First Utility, at £1,150 a year, and Co-operative Energy at £1,157 a year:

Supplier

Plan Name

Price

Sainsburys

Price Check January 2014

£1,123

First Utility

iSave v14

£1,150

Co-operative Energy

Pioneer

£1,157

First Utility

iSave Fixed v6

£1,170

Ovo

New Energy Fixed

£1,172

EDF Energy

Blue + Price Promise June 2014

£1,182

npower

Energy Online August 2014

£1,183

British Gas

Online Variable Feb 2014

£1,193

Scottish Power

Online Fixed Price Energy September 2014

£1,195

Spark Energy

Standard

£1,197

Is bigger better?

But while new suppliers are competing hard there is a reluctance among householders to try one out. uSwitch research shows that, despite widespread disillusionment, just 52% of energy customers would switch to a supplier outside of the big six.

However, over three quarters would consider moving to a smaller supplier for cheaper energy, 32% for better customer service and 28% for clearer bills.

The biggest fear factor stopping consumers from moving to a smaller supplier is the worry that it could go out of business – over a third of consumers say that this concern would stop them from switching. Almost three in ten (28%) would be frightened of losing their supply if something went wrong with the company, while over two in ten (22%) wouldn’t trust a supplier they hadn’t heard of.

Size shouldn’t matter

In the event that any energy supplier went out of business Ofgem, the regulator, would ensure that its customers are automatically transferred to another supplier (the supplier of last resort) so that they do not lose their supply. This safeguard is in place regardless of the size of the energy company.

Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch, says: “This is the year for consumers to ‘think outside of the big six box’ and to really consider moving to a small or new supplier to meet their energy needs.

“There is now a real mix of suppliers from the genuinely small and independent, to well-known retailers that are taking their first steps into the energy market. Some are offering a genuine alternative to the big six, while a couple are being backed by one of the big six. But the fact is that consumers now have a bigger, better and more competitive choice than ever before.

“With prices having just increased and with winter fuel bills on the way, I would urge consumers to take advantage of this situation and to shop around for a better deal today.”

Fixed or variable?

Besides supplier, the other factor to consider is whether the plan is fixed or variable.

First Utility’s iSave Fixed v6 offers price protection until the end of March 2014 and costs £1,170 a year, while Ovo Energy’s New Energy Fixed at £1,172 offers 12 months protection, however both have exit fees.

EDF Energy’s plan offers fixed prices until June 2014 with no cancellation fees if you choose to leave early.

Learn more…

Suppliers – Read about all energy suppliers in the UK, from the biggest to the smallest.
Fixed plans – Learn all about fixed price energy plans and whether they’re right for you.

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