The next generation of switching services for your energy supply is on the horizon, bringing us new ways to find better deals and make timely switches in order to save money. These new ‘smart switching’ companies claim millions of UK consumers could save hundreds of pounds through using their service, but will they really work?
What is smart switching?
Smart switching services claim to be impartial energy saving experts that you can keep in your pocket. They work through an app on your mobile phone, or some can be used on your PC too. The idea is that these companies know enough about your energy consumption from your previous bills to be able to find you amazing deals.
Not only that, but when they find a cheaper deal, they let you know by text, push message and / or email, and give you the option to switch then and there. As we move towards a smart meter based energy supply, switching will be easier and faster than ever before, making these real time deal hunters a profitable option.
Do we really need it?
You might ask, what’s the issue with comparing offers and taking care of our switching needs ourselves? Indeed, if you’re one of the committed energy switchers who always takes advantage of the best deal, you might not see what the problem is. However, if you’re one of the 17 million households who don’t switch on a regular basis, or the 2.5 million who have never switched, you may be all too familiar with the apathy that seems to be stopping so many of us.
Switching suppliers has long been proven to be one of the best ways of getting household bills under control. Collectively we’re overspending around £1.7 billion every year by staying with the same supplier, and yet still some struggle to find the time to switch. By putting our bills in the hands of these experts, we remove the chance of forgetting, not bothering or simply missing the opportunity to save money at the right time.
Failing to switch at the end of a deal period can mean you end up stuck on one of the notoriously expensive Standard Variable Tariffs (SVT), particularly if you are a customer of one of the ‘big six’. SVT’s cost on average £330 more per year than new customer deals, proving once and for all that when it comes to gas and electricity, loyalty doesn’t pay.
Who is offering these services?
Right now, there are three main companies offering smart switching in the UK, although there will undoubtedly be more emerging over the forthcoming months as switching continues to be pushed as a great way to save money. These companies are:
Working through an app in your smartphone, Voltz tracks and compares available deals for your gas and electricity in real time. Upon registration, users are shown their current best deal, which they can switch to immediately with a click of a button. After that, Voltz monitors the market, alerting the users to any money saving deals available, which again they can switch to with a simple click. They also let you know if you’re still on the best deal, which is always good to know too.
Flipper takes things one step further, by offering a fully managed energy service concierge, leaving you with nothing to do except pay smaller bills. Taking into account any exit fees or charges, Flipper identifies cheaper deals for you and makes the switch on your behalf. They issue you with standardised energy bills rather than bills from the suppliers, so you can always understand what you’re spending. They’ll also act as a go-between for you and your energy supplier, so there’s always someone on your side. They do charge a fee of £25 per year, but will only charge this if they manage to save you £50 or more.
Onedox takes smart switching to another level, offering complete management of all your household energy bills and suppliers in one easy place. So far they support deal finding and simple switching for internet and landline, gas and electricity, mobile phone contracts and paid for TV services. They are working to include insurance services and other common expenses in the future too. As well as managing your bills in one centralised location through the app, Onedox checks the market for cheaper deals, and helps with simplified switching if you decide to save money.
Though it is still early days for all these services, so far they are all enjoying very positive reviews from their users, and report a rapidly expanding customer base. As other similar services join them, which we will no doubt see and hear a lot about over the coming months, smart switching could become the new way of doing things,
Of course, it's all the more important if you’re choosing an electric heating system such as electric radiators. What with night time economy tariffs, dual fuel tariffs and a wide range of pre-payment meters, it can become difficult to see at a glance which tariff will be most economical for you.
So perhaps Smart Switching holds the answer – finally tackling the inertia that keeps so many of us overpaying on our energy bills.