Energy myths keep Brits from switching

An alarming number of people erroneously believe a switch would see them charged twice or even require them to have their pipes and cables changed

Education programme needed to get Brits switching

Research carried out by uSwitch has revealed that energy myths and misconceptions continue to prevent consumers from changing their energy suppliers.

Just under half of those surveyed believe that they would be responsible for handling a switch-over. In reality, once a consumer decides to change energy supplier, the new and old provider work together to facilitate the switch.

Another 15% thought that a switch could see them paying two suppliers at the same time, whereas 7% thought a switch would result in their energy being cut during the changeover.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey recently called for more consumers to start switching to better deals, as only 16% of households changed supplier between March 2012 and March 2013.

Three quarters found switching ‘easy’

Four out of ten consumers, who have not changed supplier, think switching will prove difficult, whereas a further 8% complained that the procedure was too complex. In stark contrast, 85% of those who went through with a switch found the process easy.

Interestingly, 3% of respondents were convinced that a switch would require the new energy supplier to dig up their garden to fit new pipes. Twice this number, 6%, thought a new provider meant installing a new meter.

‘Strong education programme’ needed to get Brits switching

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: “The evidence is clear – with only 16% switching their supplier last year, millions of consumers are missing out on sizeable savings of nearly £300 a year on their energy bill. With skyrocketing prices and the cold weather creeping in, these savings could be a lifeline for those struggling to keep their heads above water this winter.

“Misconceptions are standing in the way of consumers having the confidence to make the market work for them. To bridge the gap between perception and reality we need a strong education programme that lifts the lid on the myths that plague the industry and helps consumers to navigate this notoriously complex and baffling market.

“The good news is there are some positive signs that we’re heading in the right direction, with DECC having recently announced an initiative to train 500 volunteers to help consumers to compare, switch and save on their energy bills. This should help the most vulnerable to engage, but we have a long way to go before all consumers are making the market work for them.

“More also needs to be done to simplify the market as it’s clear consumers are crying out for a streamlined process with better guarantees. Ofgem has made bold statements that its retail market review will go far to make the market simpler, clearer and fairer for consumers but the proof will be in the pudding.”

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