A third of Brits don't have the energy to switch utilities

October 29, 2009

Winter is coming, the days are getting colder and the bills are getting higher… but new research from Mintel finds despite soaring energy bills, one in three Brits simply can’t be bothered to switch utility suppliers.
Last year, almost a quarter (23%) of British households switched their gas or electricity to a new supplier. However, today for as many as one in three of us (32%) making the switch is simply too much hassle. And while changing utilities is an inconvenience for much of the population, almost one in seven (15%) of us also believe there are not a lot of savings to be made by making the switch.
Richard Caines, senior retail analyst at Mintel said:
“Market competition has brought about a significant amount of movement between suppliers, with nearly one in four of us having made a switch for their supply of gas or electricity in 2008 alone. But while there is significant movement in the utilities market between suppliers, with consumers most likely to be changing both their gas and electricity to a new supplier, there is not a great deal of enthusiasm about making the switch. “
However, with little respite likely from high gas and electricity bills this winter – and one in ten consumers saying they struggle to pay energy bills – it seems more households will be shopping around to make sure they are getting the best deal on price from their home utility. Almost one in five (18%) Brits have switched suppliers as a result of a doorstep visit or phone call, while 14% have switched via the Internet using a switching or price comparison site, with 6% having done so on more than one occasion. Switching and price comparison sites have made it easier and quicker to compare gas and electricity prices between the various suppliers and these latest findings show those who had used such sites were generally satisfied with the experience and felt they were quick and easy to use.
“For those interested in switching energy suppliers to get the best price, the Internet is a key part of the process of researching the differences in price between suppliers. But although the Internet is a key element of the switching process, interestingly, more people have switched as a result of direct selling, even though there is hostility to this type of sales activity. ” comments Richard.
Aside from switching suppliers for a better deal, improving energy efficiency will be another way households look to better control domestic heating bills this winter. In fact Britons today show a great deal of enthusiasm for improving energy efficiency in the home, with more than a third of consumers (34%) having had their home insulated to cut energy bills, while one in ten (11%) would like more information on ways to save energy in the home.
In terms of type of account, three in ten (30%) have opted for dual fuel (same supplier for gas and electricity) to save money, while (15%) have chosen to fix their price tariff as they are concerned about rising prices. Meanwhile, one in ten (10%) consumers opt for online accounts to get a price discount, while 8% took this option for convenience and to reduce paper waste. Around the same number (11%) would be interested in getting solar panels for their home. In addition, three in ten (28%) would like to use a supplier that uses renewable energy, but only half this number (14%) would be willing to pay more.
“The general feeling seems to be that utility companies make enough money and it should be them and the government who make the investment in renewable energy, not consumers. The energy companies have increasingly been promoting their green credentials and part of this marketing has included giving customers more information on how to save energy, including insulation. The suppliers also have targets to meet on reducing carbon footprint and making more use of renewable energy, so marketing more added value energy related products and services for the home should be the way forward. “Richard concludes.

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