Energy suppliers. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly a scintillating topic is it? Or so I thought.
Like an awful lot of people, I didn't really give my gas and electricity suppliers much thought. I groaned each quarter when the bill came through the door. The groans began to get louder and louder in line with my bills getting larger and larger until eventually I decided I should do something about it.
Until then I was paralysed with apathy. It just wasn't high on my agenda. I thought that switching suppliers was going to be a nightmare task, taking hours and hours trawling through websites trying to make sense of a baffling array of tariffs. I assumed the process of transferring would take ages and result in many frustrating on-hold calls to various telephone call centres. I thought that it would probably all go horribly wrong and I'd get some ridiculously incorrect bill through with lots of noughts on the end.
It turned out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Since we moved into our home about 4 years ago, we'd been with one of the 'Big Six' on a duel fuel tariff. Last year I was lucky enough to win a competition, the prize was a year's supply of green electricity (you can't get more money-saving than that!). This was the impetus to change our gas supply since we obviously needed to leave our current company providing electricity to take up the prize, and since we no longer qualified for a duel fuel rate, I thought we may as well shop around.
Well, literally 10 minutes on a comparison website, and I'd found a brand new gas company who could offer me a saving of over £70 per quarter! All I had to do was type in my postcode and some figures from my latest bill and the comparison site did the rest for me.
I was staggered at the saving, but still fairly reticent about changing. The instructions were straightforward though so I continued. It really was as easy as ABC. We had to provide a couple of meter readings and that was pretty much it. We got a letter from the old supplier to confirm our final reading, then a letter from the new supplier welcoming us and that was that.
The money we've saved over the year on our gas bills has paid for a family half-term holiday, and I know what I'd rather spend our cash on!
Simple. Honestly. Really simple.
I've been banging on about it ever since.
And in fact, since I moved company, it's become even faster with switching times down to just 17 days. Which means in just that short space of time you could be saving money on your bills every month - many households could save around £200 by switching.
There's 27 companies now supplying energy. This has really shaken up the market, with the main firms no longer holding a monopoly. The savings are being passed on to you the consumer, so it's time to get out there and claim them.
My top tips for switching supplier
- Visit www.BeAnEnergyShopper.com for links to Ofgem approved comparison sites.
- Decide what's important to you - is it just about saving money, or do you want great customer service, do you want green energy?
- Have your latest bills handy so you can input the figures.
- Keep all email correspondence about the switch in a separate folder.
- Keep a record of your final meter readings, or better still take a photo of it.
- If customer service is important to you, many comparison sites have a review section where you can read how customers rate the service.
- Use the opportunity to take up more money-saving incentives like paperless billing, free smart meters and direct debit payment if you don't already.
- After your switch, remember to contact your old supplier and ask for a refund if you have any credit with them.
- Even if you have termination clauses, it's still worth comparing your tariff - you may find the savings outweigh the fee you have to pay to exit.
- Do you know anyone who's not as internet-savvy that you could offer to help with this process? Many older people are missing out on savings because they don't use the internet.
- Finally, you've got nothing to lose by checking even if you decide not to switch.
I'm working with BritMums and DECC alongside the #PowertoSwitch campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit www.BeAnEnergyShopper.com for more information about switching energy suppliers.