With January now upon us, it’s worth looking ahead to what we can expect from the energy industry throughout 2016.
- Wholesale energy prices are set to will remain low, but will we actually see decent price cuts passed on to the majority of us on standard tariffs?
- We are likely to see cheaper and cheaper fixed term deals.
Director of consumer policy at uSwitch, Ann Robinson, believes suppliers have run out of excuses for not passing on decent price cuts to the majority of consumers — many of which languish on expensive, standard variable tariffs. These consumers have seen price cuts of less than 3% in 2015. We should expect cuts of at least 10% by now, to better reflect the falls in wholesale prices.
2016 will be a game-changing year for the market, with the delayed publication of the CMA’s energy investigation.
There will be a focus on ways to get more of us to shop around for better energy deals, and to get competition working better.
More detail is expected from DECC on two elements from the Budget — the £30 reduction in bills from 2017 (the replacement for ECO which funds energy efficiency measures for vulnerable customers), and the replacement for the Green Deal.
The former will help give relief to bill payers and the latter is badly needed to address the major problem of poor energy efficiency in millions of cold homes across the country.
Seen as a way of engaging more people in energy, technology should play a large part for consumers in 2016. This includes the increasing popularity of smart meters, QR codes and smart thermostats.
The widespread rollout of smart meters will start next year. We may see some trials of time of use tariffs so if we can use less electricity at less busy times we will pay less. Smart meters help put people in control of their energy use, lower bills as well as reducing the need for future extra energy generation
In July, suppliers became required to include QR codes on their energy bills. This was with the aim to make switching easier for consumers as all their usage information and current plan could be held within the code; one scan can bring up all the necessary information to run a comparison.
The uSwitch iPhone app released in 2015 makes use of this technology to give consumers a quick and easy way to switch to a better plan,
A smart thermostat gives you full control over your home’s heating, and can often be controlled via an app; this means that you have control over your heating from wherever you are — and you won’t even have to get up off the couch to change the temperature of the home.