A third of consumers (33%) ignore the details of their energy bill and just look at the amount they need to pay****
Consumers consider washing up dishes and doing the laundry more important than paying bills****
18-34 year olds are the least confident in understanding their energy bills, with almost half (49%) admitting they would ask for help to make sense of them
Uswitch has launched a new iPhone app to help consumers decipher complicated bills and switch supplier.
A third of consumers (33%) only look at the amount they need to pay for energy rather than paying any attention to the detail of their bills, according to a study of 2,000 bill payers by Uswitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
Avoiding checking information like energy usage, or if the bill is based on an actual or estimated reading, means consumers run a greater risk of missing errors or getting into high amounts of credit or debt with suppliers.
The new findings also reveal that, despite the fact that customers could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a different tariff, fewer than one in ten (8%) use the information on their bill to compare prices or switch supplier.
The survey coincides with the launch of Uswitch’s ‘Compare, Switch, Save’ iPhone app which includes new QR (Quick Response) code scanning functionality, making it easier for people to switch suppliers or shop around for better deals at home or on the go. Following new Government rules, all major energy suppliers are now required to display QR codes on bills to help consumers get an instant cross-market comparison. Each code contains information about the customer’s current tariff, energy consumption, postcode and other information needed to easily search the market for the best deals.
Elsewhere in the new study, consumers consider washing up dishes (53%), going food shopping (43%) and doing the laundry (38%) as more important than paying bills (37%).
Those aged 55 and over read bills in most detail, studying them to understand their usage – with 47 per cent doing so compared to the average of 38%. In contrast, 18-34 year olds pay the least attention to their bills, with just 30% studying them in detail.
There is also a wide gap in understanding energy bills amongst age groups. 18-34 year olds are the most likely to call on help to understand their bills (49%) and the least likely to have the confidence to provide others with advice (14%).
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at Uswitch.com, says: “The number of people turning a blind eye to their bills is extremely concerning. There is a huge and very real risk that people are missing errors or racking up significant debt. And bills don’t always deliver bad news – those leaving bills unopened could find their provider actually owes them money. In fact, we recently found that 12 million homes could reclaim over £1 billion of credit from energy suppliers.
“Bills should be easy to understand and not create feelings of dread. QR codes could be a real game changer by breaking down consumer apathy, especially among younger people who are time-poor but tech savvy. Our new app is designed to equip people with clear information on current deals available to them. People should feel empowered to take the cost of their energy bills into their own hands using their mobile and switch more regularly.”
Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales; Energy and Climate Change, says: “The introduction of QR codes to bills will allow bill payers to compare energy deals more accurately and switch suppliers at the touch of a phone or tablet; it is great to see comparison sites like Uswitch embrace it.
“We will continue to work closely with energy suppliers and comparison websites to ensure the services they provide meet the needs of British bill payers, so they can get the best price that works for them.”
For more information visit http://www.uswitch.com/ or call 0800 093 06 07
Research was conducted online by Opinium between 7th July and 10th July 2015, amongst 2,000 UK adults. All responses were from those who were responsible for paying the energy bill.
*When asked ‘After opening your energy bill, what do you do?’ 33% of respondents answered ‘I only look at the total amount I owe’.
*When asked ‘After opening your energy bill, what do you do?’ 8% of respondents answered ‘I use it to compare prices and/or switch’
*When asked ‘Of the following, which three would you say are your most important daily chores?’ 53% of respondents answered ‘Washing Up’, 43% answered ‘Food Shopping’, 38% answered ‘Laundry’ and 37% answered ‘Paying Bills’
*When asked ‘After opening your energy bill, what do you do?’ 47% of the 55s and over answered ‘I read it in detail to check my energy usage’
*When asked ‘After opening your energy bill, what do you do?’ 30% of 18-34s answered ‘I read it in detail to check my energy usage’
*When asked ‘Would you ask anyone for help in understanding your energy bill?’ 49% of 18-34s answered ‘Yes’. This compares with 29% of 35-54 year olds and 23% of over 55s
*When asked ‘Have you ever helped someone else understand their energy bill?’ 14% of 18-34s answered ‘No, I do not have the confidence’. This compares with 12% of 35-54 year olds and 12% of over 55s.
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Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. Launched in September 2000, we help consumers save money on their gas, electricity, broadband, mobile, TV, and financial services products and get more of what matters to them. Last year we saved consumers over £373 million on their energy bills alone.
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