Author Archives: Claire Osborne

About Claire Osborne

Claire has worked in the energy industry for eight years in roles focused on bringing the best deals to consumers, both online and offline. Claire has developed her passion for data and applies her insight and analysis to modernising the energy industry - making the industry more dynamic, innovative and responsive to customer needs. This data-driven approach is combined with an unbeatable knowledge of the current energy market, tariffs and new suppliers.

uSwitch comments on Ofgem bi-annual survey on how suppliers handle complaints

idea-thought

Today Ofgem has published its bi-annual survey on how energy suppliers handle complaints. Commenting on the results, Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “It’s incredibly disappointing that consumers are becoming less satisfied with the way in which energy suppliers handle their complaints.

“The industry is slowly getting better at preventing complaints in the first place. But, when things go wrong, providers must put things right quickly and efficiently.

“It’s little surprise that more and more consumers are ditching suppliers that offer poor customer service and uncompetitive deals. Providers must up their game to stop customers leaving in droves.”

— ends —

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

1 in 4 households face energy bill shock from estimated meter readings

money-save-energy-monitor-graph-230x230
  • More than one in four (26%) households submit energy meter readings less than once a quarter, increasing the risk of receiving inaccurate estimated bills[1]
  • When estimated bills are too low, consumers unexpectedly find themselves owing an average of £125 to their energy supplier after getting a bill based on actual use[2]
  • When estimated bills are too high, customers are owed an average of £137 by their supplier – over 10% of the average annual energy spend[2]
  • Two thirds (64%) of households would consider installing a smart meter to put an end to estimated bills[3]
  • uSwitch.com is urging consumers to submit meter readings quarterly to ensure their bills are accurate. 

Over a quarter (26%) of households – equivalent to over seven million homes – face unexpected energy bill shock by not supplying regular meter readings, according to new analysis by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[1].

The data shows that nearly half (49%) of households suddenly find themselves in credit or debt to their energy supplier after submitting a meter reading after a period of receiving bills based on estimated energy use[2]. In cases where the estimates are too high, the average amount households are owed by suppliers is £137 – over ten per cent of the average annual energy bill[2]. At the other end of the scale, where estimates end up being too low, consumers suddenly find themselves in debt to their supplier by an average of £125[2].

When a consumer receives a series of bills based on estimated usage, significant amounts of credit or debt can build up over time. In fact, five percent of households who ended up in debt after submitting a meter reading, and three percent of households who ended up in credit, found their account balance suddenly changed by a staggering £500 or more[2].

Although energy suppliers are required to read customers’ meters at least once a year, Ofgem advises consumers to submit their own readings quarterly to reduce the risk of inaccurate bills. Worryingly, a quarter (25%) of consumers said they weren’t aware that they should read their meters this frequently while over a fifth (21%) felt meter readings should be the sole responsibility of their supplier[4]. In addition, less than half of all households submit readings after being prompted to by their supplier and nearly a fifth (16%) believe that sending in a reading won’t make any difference to their bill[4].

Smart meters will be offered to every home in Great Britain by 2020, putting an end to estimated bills which can leave consumers yo-yoing between credit and debt with energy providers. In fact, the research also revealed that two thirds (64%) would consider requesting a smart meter from their supplier to get accurate bills[3].

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Reading meters may seem like a chore, but regularly doing so will help you keep a grip on your energy use and spend. If you haven’t submitted a reading for some time, estimated bills could be painting a very misleading picture and put you at risk of being in significant credit or debt with your supplier.

“Smart meters, once offered to every home in Great Britain by 2020, will end the curse of estimated bills but until then consumers should send their supplier a meter reading once a quarter.

“As we move into autumn it’s wise to keep your account in some credit, to help pay for heating during the colder winter months. It’s important that all consumers, particularly those who haven’t submitted a reading in the last three months, understand the true balance of their account and don’t let estimates lead to bill shock down the line.”

Claire Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB – the voice of the smart meter rollout, says: “Smart meters will bring an end to estimated bills and provide accurate information about what we spend on gas and electricity in pounds and pence. They will help us to manage our energy use and mean we will no longer have to deal with the worry or the shock of an unknown bill.

“Sixty-nine per cent of people with smart meters said they feel more in control of their energy use and eight in ten would recommend them to others.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research was conducted online by Opinium between 26th August and 1st September 2016, among 2,026 UK adults who were responsible for paying the energy bill.

  1. When asked how often they submit meter readings to their supplier: 24% said once a month, 35% said once a quarter, 8% said once every six months, 2% said once every year, 13% said only when asked by their supplier, 3% said they never have, 11% said they have a smart meter so don’t need to, and 4% said they didn’t know. Therefore 26% submit readings less frequently than once a quarter. There are 27 million households in the UK (source: ONS). Therefore 7.02 million households (26% of 27 million) submit readings less frequently than once a quarter. Average big six standard variable energy bill is £1,064.
  2. When asked if they have ever unexpectedly owed their energy supplier or been owed money from their energy supplier(s) after they received a meter reading, 49% of respondents said yes. Of those who have unexpectedly been owed money by their supplier, the average amount owed to them was £137.39. Of those who have unexpectedly owed their supplier money, the average amount they owed was £124.78. 5% of those who have unexpectedly owed their supplier money owed £500 or more. 3% of those who have unexpectedly been owed money by their supplier were owed £500 or more.
  3. When asked if they would consider installing a smart meter to ensure that they receive accurate energy bills, 64% said yes.
  4. When asked about reminders from their energy suppliers, 48% said they submit meter readings when they receive one, and 28% said they’ve never received a reminder. When those who provide meter readings less frequently than once a quarter were asked why they don’t do it more regularly, 25% said they didn’t know they were meant to send a reading more often, 21% said they think the suppliers should do it themselves, 16% said they don’t believe it will make a difference to their bill, 14% said they forget to do so, 11% said they can’t be bothered, 3% said they don’t know how and 1% said they don’t know where their meter is. 17% specified an individual other reason, and 8% said they didn’t know why.

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on launch of ScottishPower ‘PowerUp’ deal

radiator-energy-heating

Today ScottishPower has announced that its customers will be able to buy gas and electricity in bundles of days rather than signing up to standard or fixed price deals. Commenting on the news, Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “This innovative development from ScottishPower could help transform the way its customers understand and pay for their energy. Energy bills are notoriously difficult to understand and so this approach, similar to how we buy petrol, should help consumers use less, waste less and pay less for their gas and electricity.

“The fact that the deal has no standing charge will be attractive to many customers – particularly those with second homes which are unoccupied for part of the year – as there’s nothing to pay on days when no energy is used.

“Far too few consumers are engaged with the market and this is a great example of how to help people get in control of their energy use and spend. We’d encourage ScottishPower to look to offer this deal to new customers as well as existing ones.”

— ends —

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on proposals to cap prepayment meter warrant charges for consumers in debt

money-cash-economy

Ofgem has today published proposals to cap charges for installing prepayment meters under warrant. Commenting on the news, Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “Ofgem figures suggest energy customers could have been charged around £30 million for prepayment meters installed under warrant last year alone. Moves by the regulator to help the millions of consumers already struggling to keep warm by capping these costs are welcome.

“The most vulnerable customers have been forced deeper into debt because of sky-high installation costs. It’s only right that suppliers should be banned altogether from charging these consumers for installing prepayment meters under warrant.”

— ends —

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Parents to fork out £5.8 billion for Uni students this year

money-finance-economy-savings-save-bank-230x230
  • UK university students’ parents are set to dish out over £5,000 per child in financial support this academic year, collectively adding up to over £5.8 billion[1]
  • Almost nine out of ten (86%) parents will support their children through university[2], spending an average of £417 per month[1]
  • Parents can expect to contribute a total of £104 per month for household bills including £26 for energy, £22 for car insurance and £18 for broadband and TV[1]
  • They also shell out £101 per month towards rent and £71 towards tuition fees[1]
  • Parents estimate they could save over £650 per year in contributions to students’ household bills if they switched to better deals[3]
  • uSwitch.com is urging parents and students to shop around and switch suppliers to cut bills ahead of the new university term.

Parents are set to spend £417 per month, adding up to more than £5,000 over the year, supporting their child through university, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. With over 1.1 million full time undergraduate [4] or foundation degree students at universities across the UK, parents across the country will be collectively spending a staggering £5.8 billion per year[1].

Despite university being an opportune time for young people to learn how to effectively manage their finances, parents are still set to pick up a large chunk of their children’s household bills – to the tune of £104 per month. Contributions to energy bills will eat up £26 per month while £22 will be spent on car insurance, £21 on mobile phone bills and phone insurance, and £18 on internet and TV packages, according to the new survey[1].

However, accommodation is set to be parents’ single most expensive outlay, with contributions to rent costing them an average of £101 a month. Meanwhile, contributions to tuition fees, which have risen significantly in recent years, will cost parents a further £71 each month, while food adds another £44[1].

Table 1: Student household bill breakdown

  Household bill Average monthly contribution by parents
1 Energy bills £26
2 Car insurance £22
3 Mobile phone (including insurance) £21
4 Internet/TV bill £18
5 Contents insurance £10
6 Water £7

Source: uSwitch.com survey, August 2016

Parents believe their contributions to students’ bills are higher than they should be – with only a third (31%) thinking their children are on the best deals available[5]. Across all household bills, parents anticipate they could be overpaying by over £54 per month, or £651 per year[3].

The biggest culprit for perceived overspending is the cost of mobile phone bills, with 17% feeling they pay more than they should. This is followed by car insurance (12%) and electricity bills (11%)[6]. By encouraging their children to shop around to find the best deal, parents could make significant savings. For example, switching to a different energy supplier can save the average household over £400 per year[7]. Comparison sites are the easiest way to secure a better deal but fewer than one in five of those surveyed (19%) say they use them for every household bill[8].

 

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research was conducted online by Opinium between 27th July and 1st August 2016, among 1,003 nationally representative UK parents (with children in 2nd year of University up to children who have just graduated in the summer of 2016).

  1. When asked how much they spend per month on their child’s university expenses, respondents said the following:
    • Tuition fees: average monthly spend of £71.49
    • Energy bills (electric, gas or dual fuel): average monthly spend of £25.86
    • Water bill: average monthly spend of £6.53
    • Mobile phone (bill and insurance): average monthly spend of £21.17
    • Contents insurance: average monthly spend of £9.78
    • Car insurance: average monthly spend of £22.35
    • Internet/landline/TV bill: average monthly spend of £17.60
    • Rent: average monthly spend of £101.39
    • Food: average monthly spend of £44.19
    • Travel: average monthly spend of £26.59
    • Subsistence (adhoc spend): average monthly spend of £40.76
    • Emergency money: average monthly spend of £29.50

Therefore, the total average monthly expenditure is £417.22, and the average annual cost is £417.22 x 12 = £5006.64. Therefore, the total cost across the country is £5006.64 x 1,176,795 students = £5,891,788,918. Averages include parents who do not contribute financially.

  1. When asked ‘Do you support your child financially at university?’, 86% of respondents said yes
  2. When asked if they feel like the pay more than they should for their child’s household bills, respondents said the following:
    • Energy bills (electric, gas or dual fuel): average monthly overspend of £14.16
    • Water bills: average monthly overspend of £4.40
    • Contents insurance: average monthly overspend of £4.55
    • Mobile phone (bill and insurance): average monthly overspend of £10.37
    • Car insurance: average monthly overspend of £8.27
    • Internet/landline/TV bill: average monthly overspend of £12.55

Therefore, the total average monthly overspend on household bills is £54.30, and the average annual overspend is £54.30 x 12 = £651.60. Therefore, the total overspend across the country is £651.60 x 1,176,795 students = £766,799,622

  1. There are 1,176,795 UK-based, Full-time undergraduate or foundation degree students (source: Higher Education Statistics Agency). This figure does not include post-grad students, part-time undergraduate students or any international students from outside the UK.
  2. When asked ‘Do you think your child/children have ensured they are on the best deal/tariff possible for the below bills?’ on average 31% say yes across the different bills asked (as listed in point 1).
  3. When asked if they feel like the pay more than they should for their child’s household bills, 17% said that they pay more than they should for mobile phone bills, 12% said that they pay more than they should for car insurance and 11% said that they pay more than they should for electricity bills
  4. Between 1 March 2016 and 31 May 2016, people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved an average of £403
  5. When asked if in general, they use comparison sites to compare the cost of bills, 19% answered yes – for all bills

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Fixed energy deal prices continue to rise as summer comes to a close

gas-cooker-kitchen-energy
  • 21 energy suppliers have replaced their cheapest deals with more expensive plans since June, according to new analysis by com[1]
  • 8 suppliers, including EDF, The Co-operative Energy, OVO Energy, Flow and Octopus have increased deal prices more than once over the summer[1]
  • Co-op Energy hikes prices the most, with a total increase of £219[1]
  • Soaring wholesale prices and market uncertainty following the EU referendum are fuelling the increases[3]
  • But good deals are still available, with the average price of the top 10 fixed deals £82 cheaper than it was a year ago[2]
  • com advises consumers who are worried about rising prices to shop around now to protect against further increases.

Switching on the heating may still be far from consumers’ minds, but the price of fixed energy deals has continued to rise over the summer, with some increasing by as much as £219, according to new analysis by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[1].

21 energy suppliers have replaced their cheapest fixed price deal with more expensive plans since June, increasing prices by an average of £23. The largest increase is with Co-operative Energy, whose ‘Co-op Fix for Longer September 2017’ tariff, costing £770 at the start of June, has since been replaced twice. Its equivalent deal, ‘Co-op Online October 2017’, now costs £989, an increase of £219. Co-operative Energy is one of eight suppliers, also including EDF, Avro Energy, Flow, GnERGY, OVO Energy and So Energy, who have hiked their prices twice over the summer. Octopus has increased the price of its cheapest fixed deal three times since the start of July[1].

The rising price of energy deals is linked to the wholesale cost of energy, which is climbing at its fastest rate in years, according to independent price reporting agency ICIS[3]. Several factors, including upward pressure on the cost of energy imports from the falling value of sterling following the EU referendum, future energy supply concerns, higher transmission costs and the temporary closure of the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea, are contributing to the price rises.

However, consumers can still find and take advantage of the best deals on the market. First Utility and npower are among several suppliers who have made price reductions since the start of August[1], and the current top ten best value fixed energy deals cost an average of £787, which is £82 less than at this time last year[2]. The best value fixed deal, Avro Energy’s ‘Simple and Select’, currently costs £770 per year, which is £292 less than the average big six fixed deal.

Consumers who are concerned about the rising cost of energy should shop around now and consider switching to a better deal to protect themselves against any more price increases as we move into the colder months.

Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “Many suppliers are increasing the price of their cheapest energy deals amid concerns about rising wholesale energy costs and uncertainty in the market following the EU referendum. It remains to be seen whether this is just a blip – and wholesale prices still remain well below their high levels in 2013.

“The good news for consumers is that, despite these rises, the market’s most competitive plans are still hundreds of pounds less than the average big six standard tariff. Those who are concerned about their energy bills going up, especially as we head towards the autumn, should look around to see whether they can switch to a better tariff and consider fixed deals that can provide protection against further potential price rises.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

— ends —

Notes to editors

  1. Cheapest fixed energy tariff price changes since 10th June, 2016 (source: uSwitch.com)

The 21 suppliers who have increased the price of their fixed energy deals are: Affect Energy, Avro Energy, British Gas, Co-operative Energy, EDF, Extra Energy, First Utility, Flow, GB Energy, GnEnergy, Go Effortless Energy, Green Star Energy, iSupply, LoCO2, npower, Octopus, OVO, Places for People, Sainsbury’s Energy, ScottishPower and So Energy.

Supplier

Previous tariff Previous price New tariff New price Launch date

Difference

Affect Energy Fixed Saver July 2017 £785 Fixed Saver August 2017 £784 1st Aug -£1
Affect Energy Fixed Saver June 2017 £778 Fixed Saver July 2017 £785 30th June £7
Avro Energy Simple and Fuel £758 Simple and Select £770 1st Aug £11
Avro Energy Simple and Summer £747 Simple and Fuel £758 14th July £11
British Gas HomeEnergy Fixed Sep 2018 £1,019 HomeEnergy Fixed Nov 2018 £1,044 1st July £25
Bulb Vari-Fair £845 Vari-Fair £840 14th July -£5
Co-operative Energy Co-op Fix for Longer October 2017 £824 Co-op Online October 2017 £989 4th Aug £165
Co-operative Energy Co-op Fix for Longer September 2017 £770 Co-op Fix for Longer October 2017 £824 18th July £54
EDF Energy Blue+Price Protection Aug17 £909 Blue+Price Protection Sep17 £942 22nd Aug £33
EDF Energy Blue+Price Protection Jul17v2 £875 Blue+Price Protection Aug17 £909 29th July £33
EDF Energy Blue+Price Protection Jul17 £878 Blue+Price Protection Jul17v2 £875 12th July -£3
EDF Energy Blue+Price Promise July 2017v2 £835 Blue+Price Protection July 2017 £878 28th June £43
Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Aug 2017 v1 £875 Fresh Fixed Price Sep 2017 v1 £843 18th Aug -£31
Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Oct 2017 v1 £770 Fresh Fixed Price Aug 2017 v1 £875 8th July £105
First Utility First Fixed August 2017 v4 Online Only £823 First Fixed September 2017 Online Only £817 23rd Aug -£6
First Utility First Fixed August 2017 v6 Online Only £778 16th Aug
First Utility First Fixed July 2017 v7 Online Only £832 First Fixed August 2017 v4 Online Only £823 10th Aug -£9
First Utility First Fixed July 2017 v140 Online Only £784 First Fixed July 2017 v7 Online Only £832 30th June £48
Flow Connect 8 £792 Connect 9 £841 30th Aug £49
Flow Connect 7 £752 Connect 8 £792 6th July £40
GB Energy Fixed 12 Topaz £735 Fixed 12 Crystal £780 24th June £45
GnERGY GnERGY Fixed July 2017 £786 GnERGY Fixed September 2017 £831 22nd Aug £45
GnERGY GnERGY Fixed June 2017 £751 GnERGY Fixed July 2017 £786 15th June £35
Go Effortless Energy June 2016 v3 £880 July 2016 v1 £875 20th July -£5
Go Effortless Energy June 2016 v2 £845 June 2016 v3 £880 30th June £35
Go Effortless Energy June 2016 v1 £830 June 2016 v2 £845 15th June £14
Green Star Energy Rate Saver 12m Fixed 2605 £830 Rate Saver 12m Fixed 1607 £874 22nd July £44
iSupply iFix 201708 v2 £776 iFix 201709 £831 5th Aug £55
iSupply iFix 201706 v2 £785 iFix 201708 v2 £776 7th July -£9
LoCO2 Pocket Fixed Spring16 £838 Pocket Fixed Summer £876 9th Aug £38
npower Online Price Fix September 2017 £806 Online Fix September 2017 £801 22nd Aug -£5
npower Fixed Energy Online August 2017 £807 Online Price Fix September 2017 £806 10th Aug -£1
npower Online Price Fix August 2017 £786 Fixed Energy Online August 2017 £807 28th July £21
npower Online Price Fix July 2017 £788 Online Price Fix August 2017 £786 11th July -£2
npower n/a n/a Online Price Fix July 2017 £788 4th July
Octopus Octopus 12M Fixed £777 Octopus 12M Fixed £790 15th July £14
Octopus Octopus 12M Fixed £790 Octopus 12M Fixed £796 5th Aug £6
Octopus Octopus Fixed £763 Octopus 12M Fixed £777 8th July £13
OVO Energy Better Energy (all Online) £886 Better Energy (all Online) £917 23rd Aug £32
OVO Energy Better Energy (all Online) £823 Better Energy (all Online) £886 10th June £63
Places For People Together – September 2017 – fixed 34 £771 Together – September 2017 – fixed 35 £792 28th July £21
Sainsbury’s Energy SE Fixed Price August 2017 £875 SE Fixed Price September 2017 £813 31st Aug -£62
Sainsbury’s Energy SE Fixed Price July 2017 £844 SE Price Freeze August 2017 £875 29th July £31
Sainsbury’s Energy SE Fixed Price June 2017 £750 SE Fixed Price July 2017 £844 1st July £94
ScottishPower Online Fixed Price Energy September 2017 £872 Online Fixed Price Energy September 2017 v2 £845 -£27
ScottishPower Online Fixed Price Energy July 2017 £843 Online Fixed Price Energy September 2017 £872 1st Aug £29
ScottishPower Online Fixed Price Energy June 2017 £812 Online Fixed Price Energy July 2017 £843 27th June £31
So Energy So Emu £766 So Falcon £779 11th July £13
So Energy So Elephant £765 So Emu £766 30th June £1
Utilita Premium Energy £1,167 Premium Energy £1,136 4th July -£31
Average price increase £23
  1. Top 10 energy deals on the market as of 31st August, 2016 (source: uSwitch.com)

Rank

Supplier Plan name Average bill size Tariff type

Cancellation fees

1 Avro Energy Simple and Select £770 fixed
2 First Utility First Fixed August 2017 v6 Online Only £778 fixed £30.00 per fuel
3 So Energy So Falcon £779 fixed £5.00 per fuel
4 GB Energy Fixed 12 Crystal £780 fixed
5 SSE SSE 1 Year Fixed v8 £782 fixed £30.00 per fuel
6 Affect Energy Fixed Saver August 2017 £784 fixed £25.00 per fuel
7 Places For People Together – September 2017 – fixed 35 £792 fixed £30.00 per fuel
8 Octopus Energy Octopus 12M Fixed £796 fixed
9 npower Online Fix September 2017 £801 fixed £20.00 per fuel
10 Sainsbury’s Energy SE Fixed Price September 2017 £813 fixed £20.00 per fuel

The cost of the average fixed deal in the top ten on 1st August 2015 was £869 (£82 difference)

  1. Source: ICIS Power Index (http://www.icis.com/energy/power/icis-power-index/)
  2. All prices quoted are based on average dual fuel energy use, as defined by Ofgem, paying by Direct Debit.

 

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Warning bell as Co-op Energy announces 3% price hike

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  • The Co-operative Energy is to raise its standard energy prices by 3% from 1st October[1]
  • Average household bill for a Co-op Energy dual fuel customer on a standard plan will increase from £1,152 to £1,184 a year[1]
  • But customers on prepayment meters will see bills rise by 6% from £1,115 to £1,184 per year[1]
  • New prices make Co-op Energy’s standard rates more expensive than the Big Six[2]
  • Co-op Energy is the first major energy supplier to raise its standard tariff prices since 2014 – although it has already increased the cost of its fixed deals by £219 this summer[3].

The Co-operative Energy has today announced that it is putting its prices up by 3% for gas and electricity[1]. The increase comes into effect on the 1st October[1]. It will add an extra £32 to Co-op Energy’s average standard dual fuel bill, which will increase from £1,152 to £1,184 as a result[1].

Today’s news is a blow to consumers as it brings to an end a period of standard price reductions, and could be a signal that smaller suppliers are feeling the impact of rising wholesale prices.

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Consumers have had some respite from price rises over the last two years. But adding £32 to an already expensive deal will leave some buckling under the pressure.

“This is a worrying warning bell that the wholesale price honeymoon may be drawing to a close. Wholesale prices are now climbing at the fastest rate in years, driven by upward pressure on the cost of energy imports from the falling value of sterling following the EU referendum, future supply concerns and higher transmission costs. Unfortunately, it’s the smaller suppliers who are less able to cope as they cannot buy their energy as far ahead as the Big Six. The danger is that other small suppliers could now follow suit and raise their prices – just in time for winter.

“Co-op Energy’s price rise means its standard rates will be £46 a year more than the average Big Six standard tariff. We strongly urge consumers not to take this on the chin, but to fight back. You don’t have to watch your energy costs soar. Consumers concerned about rising energy costs should shop around and consider switching to a fixed rate tariff, to get protection against any potential future price hikes.”

Table 1: Average household energy bills:

Supplier Plan names Pay on Receipt of Bill Monthly Direct Debit Prepayment
British Gas Standard £1,102 £1,044 £1,102
EDF Energy Standard (Variable) £1,139 £1,069 £1,139
E.ON E.ON Energy Plan £1,117 £1,047 £1,117
Npower Standard SC £1,172 £1,077 £1,172
ScottishPower Standard £1,161 £1,081 £1,142
SSE Standard £1,136 £1,056 £1,148
Average £1,138 £1,062 £1,137
Co-op Energy Pioneer £1,184 £1,121 £1,184

 Based on a medium user consuming 3,200 kWh of electricity and 12,500 kWh of gas on a standard dual fuel tariff, paying quarterly by cash and cheque, with bill sizes averaged across all regions.

  1. Table 2: The Co-operative Energy price changes:

 

   Direct Debit  Pay on receipt of bill  Prepayment
Current rate 1/9/16 £1,089 £1,152 £1,115
Rate from 1/10/16 £1,121 £1,184 £1,184
Difference £32 £32 £69

 See Table 1.

  1. The Co-op Fix for Longer September 2017’ tariff, costing £770 at the start of June, has since been replaced twice. Its equivalent deal, ‘Co-op Online October 2017’, now costs £989, an increase of £219.

— ends —

Notes to editors

  1. Table 2: The Co-operative Energy price changes:

 

 Direct Debit  Pay on receipt of bill  Prepayment
Current rate 1/9/16 £1,089 £1,152 £1,115
Rate from 1/10/16 £1,121 £1,184 £1,184
Difference £32 £32 £69

 See Table 1.

  1. The Co-op Fix for Longer September 2017’ tariff, costing £770 at the start of June, has since been replaced twice. Its equivalent deal, ‘Co-op Online October 2017’, now costs £989, an increase of £219.

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on Citizens Advice energy complaints league table

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Responding to Citizens’ Advice’s latest energy complaints league table, which shows the widest ever gap between the best and worst providers, Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Energy bills are stressful enough, so customers need to know that their issue will be dealt with quickly and efficiently if things ever go wrong. Chasing complaints costs both time and money and consumers should not have to pay the price for suppliers’ mistakes.

“It’s encouraging to see some suppliers stepping up their efforts to improve their processes, but it’s clear that others still have some work to do if trust in the energy industry is to be restored.

“Inaccurate bills, one of the main causes for complaints, are unfortunately much more common than we would like. Our own research found that almost four million customers have been overcharged due to billing errors over the last year – leaving them £270 million out of pocket[1].

“Providing regular meter readings goes a long way towards ensuring that bills are as accurate as possible – but consumers should always check their bills carefully and speak immediately to their supplier if they think they have been short-changed.

“This data shows that there is more to choosing an energy supplier than price alone, so it’s important to do your research before choosing a provider. Many price comparison sites have supplier customer satisfaction ratings or reviews which give a good indication of the level of service you can expect to receive.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

  1. Energy billing blunders leave consumers £270 million out of pocket, uSwitch.com: https://www.uswitch.com/media-centre/2016/06/energy-billing-blunders-leave-consumers-270-million-out-of-pocket/

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on gas metering and billing issues

gas-cooker-kitchen-energy-230x230

Commenting on news of metering and billing issues affecting a small number of gas customers, Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s vital that Ofgem, Energy UK and suppliers sort these problems out quickly and ensure customers aren’t left out of pocket. The small number of customers affected will now be contacted by their supplier.”

— ends —

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Move over Dad – Brits now prefer to ask the internet for household help

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  • New research from uSwitch.com reveals that Brits are more likely to ask Google, YouTube or Siri for help with basic household tasks like bleeding radiators than Mum or Dad[1]
  • The equivalent of over 12 million people don’t know where their gas main valve is located and almost ten million can’t locate their water meter[2]
  • Some basic household tasks are neglected entirely – almost one in five (18%) have never bled a radiator and over one in ten (15%) have never rewired a plug[3]
  • Worryingly, over in one in ten (14%) admit they’ve never changed the batteries in their smoke alarm[3]
  • Young adults are the least confident when carrying out household tasks, with almost one in eight (12%) admitting they struggle to change a light bulb[4]. 

Brits would rather ask the Internet than their parents for help with key household tasks like bleeding the radiator and turning off the gas supply, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.

Almost one in three adults (28%) turn to Google, YouTube or virtual personal assistants like Apple’s Siri for help, compared to one in five (23%) who take the more traditional route of asking their Dad and one in ten (9%) who ask their Mum[1].

According to the findings, millions of consumers could also be putting themselves in danger by not being able to locate essential items in an emergency. Almost a quarter (24%) of adults – equivalent to 12 million people – don’t know where to find their gas main valve, while almost a fifth (19%) – equivalent to almost ten million people – can’t locate their water meter[2].

Table: Top five household items Brits struggle to find

  Item Percentage of adults who can’t locate Equivalent to
1 Gas main valve 24% 12.3 million people
2 Water meter 19% 9.8 million people
3 Cold water tank 18% 9.4 million people
4 Water stopcock 16% 8.4 million people
5 Immersion heater 14% 7.4 million people

Source: uSwitch survey, August 2016[2]

Being unaware of the location of essential household items can also negatively impact consumers’ pockets. The research found that over 2.6 million people don’t know where their electricity meter is and over three million can’t find their gas meter[2]. Providing up to date meter readings is the best way for customers to ensure they’re only charged for the energy they actually use. Not knowing the location of energy meters increases the risk of inaccurate bills and consumers finding themselves in significant debt or credit with their suppliers.

In addition, there are several essential basic household tasks that many Brits admit to having never attempted. Most worryingly, 14% say they’ve never changed the battery in their smoke alarm, despite Government fire safety advice recommending that batteries are changed every year. Almost one in three (27%) have never cleaned the gutters, almost one in five (18%) haven’t bled a radiator and over one in ten (15%) have never rewired a plug[3].

According to the findings, young adults – many of whom will be starting to live on their own for the first time – have the poorest knowledge of the home. The research found that almost half (47%) of 18-24 year olds don’t know how to turn off the water supply, almost a third (31%) struggle to set the central heating timer and almost a quarter (23%) are unsure how to read an energy meter. Young adults are also struggling with some of the most basic tasks – with almost one in eight (12%) admitting they don’t know how to change a light bulb[4].

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s important that Brits feel confident when managing their home. Today’s findings highlight just how many of us don’t know how to locate or shut off utilities, which can be dangerous in an emergency. We are often deterred from carrying out essential tasks because they seem complicated and tedious, but they are usually quick to do and there’s lots of help available to show you how.

“Being in full control of your household can not only make life easier, but it could also save you hundreds of pounds a year. It’s important to know the location of your energy meters and provide regular, up to date readings – it’s the only way to make sure you only pay for what you use and avoid the risk of falling into significant credit or debt.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research was conducted online by Opinium between 22nd – 26th July 2016, among 2,005 nationally representative UK adults (aged 18+). There are 51.339 million UK adults in the UK (source: ONS).

1. When asked ‘Who do you tend to turn to for help when you don’t know how to carry out essential housing tasks?’, 28% of respondents answered ‘Google’, ‘YouTube’ or ‘Siri/other virtual PA’, 23% said ‘Dad’ and 9% said ‘Mum’

 
2. When asked if they knew where the following household items were located:
a. 24% of respondents, equivalent to 12.3 million people, didn’t know where their gas main valve is
b. 19% of respondents, equivalent to 9.8 million people, didn’t know where their water meter is
c. 18% of respondents, equivalent to 9.4 million people, didn’t know where their cold water tank is
d. 16% of respondents, equivalent to over 8.4 million people, didn’t know where their water stopcock is
e. 14% of respondents, equivalent to 7.4 million people, didn’t know where their immersion heater is
f. 6% of respondents, equivalent to over 3 million people, didn’t know where their gas meter is
g. 5% of respondents, equivalent to over 2.6 million people, didn’t know where their electricity meter is
h. 4% of respondents, equivalent to over 2 million people, didn’t know where their electricity fuse box is
i. 3% of respondents, equivalent to over 1.4 million people, didn’t know where their wi-fi router is

 
3. When asked ‘How often, if ever, do you pay someone to do the following tasks?’:
a. In reference to bleeding a radiator, 18% of respondents said ‘my friends, family or I have never done this task or paid someone to do this task’
b. In reference to rewiring a plug, 15% of respondents said ‘my friends, family or I have never done this task or paid someone to do this task’
c. In reference to changing the batteries in the smoke alarm, 14% of respondents said ‘my friends, family or I have never done this task or paid someone to do this task’
d. In reference to cleaning the gutters, 27% of respondents said ‘my friends, family or I have never done this task or paid someone to do this task’
e. In reference to cleaning their bathroom, 10% of respondents said ‘my friends, family or I have never done this task or paid someone to do this task’

 
4. When asked ‘How confident are you at doing each of the following tasks?’
a. 12% of 18-24 year old respondents said they did not feel confident changing a lightbulb
b. 47% of 18-24 year old respondents said they did not feel confident turning off the water supply
c. 31% of 18-24 year old respondents said they did not feel confident putting the heating on a timer
d. 23% of 18-24 year old respondents said they did not feel confident reading their gas or electricity meter

About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.