New research has surfaced this weekend which sheds light, not only on our consumer habits, but on the energy marketplace as a whole. It seems that the competition between the big six companies is at an all time low - to the point where they basically have a monopoly hold on consumers. The worrying thing is, none of us seem to be doing much about it.
In the past seven years the number of households who regularly switch energy suppliers has more than halved, giving way to ‘cartel’ style price hikes with energy companies increasing their margins incrementally and without challenge. The market for gas and electricity has become stale, and with consumers so unwilling (or unsure how) to switch, things are only getting worse. All of the major developed economies in the world have a very healthy and competitive energy marketplace and Britain, until recently, ranked highly as a country where people ‘shopped around’ and switched suppliers frequently. This kept the market on its toes and forced companies to drive down prices in order to attract a market share - that spirit has since left the British consumer, making it all too easy for prices to creep up and the market to grind to a halt.
Including December, only 11.5% of households have changed their energy suppliers in 2013. In 2006, this figure was as high as 22%. So why have consumers stopped switching suppliers? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to really have been a conscious consumer choice. The rate of switching slowed down considerably in 2011 when energy companies were forced to stop door-to-door sales pitching after it was revealed that customers where feeling harassed and being misled. This means that consumers are perhaps slightly more apathetic to who supplies their electricity than previously thought, and that the ‘culture’ of energy shopping needs to change. The Prime Minister and various other Cabinet officials have spoken out and asked people to shop around, encouraging them to switch their suppliers and add some colour to the market, but a recent survey by Which? found that many people feel the process of switching suppliers is too time consuming or difficult.
See our tips on switching energy suppliers here - at Electric Radiators Direct we strongly recommend you shop around for the best possible tariff, particularly during these winter months where prices for the big six have shot up considerably.
If you’re looking to switch your energy supplier and you’re not sure where to begin, why not check out uSwitch? It’s their mission to find you a better deal and to encourage competition in the marketplace. Director of consumer policy, Ann Robinson, pointed out, “This is a major concern and it just shows how far off we are from having a competitive market that works. Competition promotes fairer prices, better customer service and increased efficiency.” We agree, and would encourage all of our customers to stimulate the market buy shopping around for a better deal - there are countless independent energy companies with competitive prices and tariffs that get overshadowed by the big six. Seek them out and see if they could save YOU money.