Tag Archives: Energy Prices

Door Step Energy Salesmen Must Provide A Written Quote From Today

The move is in response to growing concerns over doorstep selling and particularly the fact that many consumers end up on a worse deal after speaking to an energy company salesman. According to uSwitch.com research almost 7 million UK households have taken out an energy plan through a direct salesman, but less than a quarter of these (22%) believe they got a good deal.

Door Step Energy Salesmen Must Provide A Written Quote From Today

The new system of providing written quotes means that consumers will have proof of the deal they have been offered. But, importantly, the onus will still be on consumers to check for themselves whether it is the best plan they could be on.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “This new rule is not about making sure consumers get the best deal, or even a better deal. It’s about making sure they have written proof of what they’ve been offered. It is then down to them to take this information and check for themselves whether they will be better off or not.

“The key thing is that consumers understand that the quote is not a guarantee that they will be saving money. Direct salesmen are not obliged to tell people about their company’s most competitive plans. These tend to be online and are around GBP300 a year cheaper than standard plans so consumers signing up with a salesman without comparing first could still lose out.

“Over a third of people (37%) think that energy salesmen don’t present them with enough information to make an informed decision while almost half (45%) don’t like the fact that the seller only represents one energy supplier. The new quotation system doesn’t tackle these issues, but it does mean consumers can protect themselves by taking the quotes and comparing prices before signing on the dotted line.”

As well as the requirement for written quotes, Ofgem is also increasing the threshold for debt blocking for prepayment meter (PPM) customers from GBP100 to GBP200. This means that those with a debt on their meter of up to GBP200 could now switch to a better deal opening up the opportunity for them to save money. The regulator has also brought in new rules on SME energy, but has backed off banning suppliers from rolling SME contracts over.

Via EPR Network
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New Small Business Energy Rules ‘Confusing’

Ofgem’s new rules for the small business energy market come into play yesterday – Monday 18th January, 2010. While designed to give greater protection to Britain’s SMEs, according to uSwitchforbusiness.com, the dedicated SME price comparison and switching service, the rules are in danger of confusing business owners and put too much onus on them to take action.

Jake Ridge, small business expert at uSwitchforbusiness.com, says:”Ofgem is doing the right thing in offering Britain’s SMEs greater protection in the energy market. However, these new rules have fallen far short of the simple blanket ban on evergreen or rollover contracts that was initially proposed and, as a result, are in danger of confusing busy SME owners.

“Small businesses need to understand the rules quickly to ensure that they benefit from the additional protection being offered. The key thing is that the rules only apply if you are a micro-business so check whether you qualify and let your energy company know straight away if you do. This means that when you come to renew your contract your supplier must provide you with clear written details of the full terms and conditions plus ensure you get suitable notice so that you can shop around for a new deal. Check with your supplier if you are unsure when your current contract will end.

“You also now have the right to opt out of being rolled-over – as soon as you sign a new energy deal let the supplier know you are opting out and this means that you can only be put onto a 28 day notice rollover plan at the end of your contract leaving you free to move to a better deal.

“The rules are complicated and unfortunately put too much onus on SME owners. But it’s a step in the right direction and should hopefully see more small businesses avoid the expensive trap of ‘evergreen’ energy contracts.”

The new rules only apply to micro-businesses, which Ofgem defines as a company that meets any one of the following criteria:
•Consumes less than 200,000 kWh of gas per annum
•Consumes less than 55,000 kWh of electricity a year
•Has less than ten employees (or the full-time equivalent) and an annual turnover or annual balance sheet total of Euro 2 million or less.

Via EPR Network
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Cold Snap Will Push Up Energy Bills But Not Household Energy Prices

Households could see their winter fuel bills increase by GBP60 if the cold snap continues into February, but reports that energy prices could go up are a red herring says uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.

It costs £3 a day on average to heat a home, but uSwitch.com estimates that this could increase by GBP1 a day as consumers contend with the current freezing conditions. If the cold snap lasts a fortnight it will add GBP14 on to household winter fuel bills. But if it lasts two months it could cost households an extra £60.

However, reports that household energy prices could go up as a result of increased demand are misleading – energy suppliers buy their energy around a year in advance and can meet the current short-term increase in demand by topping up on the daily spot market. This means that consumers do not need to worry about their prices going up in the short to medium term.

Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “If the cold snap continues through February it could add £60 on to household energy bills, but the cold snap would have to continue for far longer to have an impact on energy prices. Higher demand because of sub zero temperatures and the current rationing of energy to certain businesses does not mean suppliers will need to increase household energy prices. Hopefully this will reassure consumers, but our advice would be to think now about budgeting for an extra £60 for when the winter fuel bill drops through your letter box.”

Via EPR Network
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Energy Price Cuts This Year – 12% For Online Customers But 4% For Everyone Else

•Energy price cuts in 2009: 4% or £54 for standard plan customers, but 12% or GBP133 for online customers

•At the beginning of the year, online plans were £170 cheaper than standard plans – today they are £249 a year cheaper

•Best kept secret: despite consistently lower prices only 1.3 million or 5% of households are on online energy plans

•Winter worry: two thirds (65%) of people are worried about the cost of their energy bills as we head into winter

•Affordability concerns: almost two in ten households (19%) are finding it difficult to afford their energy bills

•Cutting back: 57% of households are already cutting back on energy to make bills cheaper while a further 17% are planning to join them.

While the majority of households have seen energy prices drop by 4% or £54 this year, new research from uSwitch.com reveals that households who are on suppliers’ online plans have enjoyed cuts three times this size. Since the beginning of 2009 their prices have been reduced by a healthy 12% or £133, leaving online customers paying £249 less than standard customers.

While the debate about whether suppliers should be cutting prices again in light of lower wholesale costs rumbles on, households on online plans are sitting pretty. They have seen bills drop from £1,123 on the 1st January to £990 today. However, households on standard plans have not fared so well – their prices have dropped from GBP1,293 at the beginning of the year to £1,239 today, barely making a dent in the 42% or GBP381 increase in energy prices seen last year.

Via EPR Network
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E.ON Fires Latest Salvo in Online Price War

E.ON has launched a new fixed price online energy plan – FixOnline 3 – which allows consumers to fix their prices until 1st December, 2010. The plan is only available to those who will manage their account online and pay by monthly direct debit. In return, they will be paying the second lowest energy prices currently available in the market and will only be paying £1 more than if they were on the cheapest plan in the market.

E.ON’s new plan averages out at £984 a year, while EDF Energy’s average bill size comes in at £983. However, EDF Energy’s plan is only available in 10 out of 14 energy regions, which means that many households, including those in London, will not be able to benefit. E.ON, and British Gas which brought out a new competitive online plan only yesterday, will be able to target those areas missing out.

With suppliers cutting online prices, hopes are that it will encourage consumers to start paying by direct debit again. New uSwitch.com data revealed a 7.3% decline in the number of switchers opting to pay by direct debit. If the trend continues, it could result in 342,000 households ditching direct debits this year – and losing £33.5 million in discounts on their energy bills as a result.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “To see two of the big six suppliers launch competitive new energy plans in as many days is great news both for consumers and the market. The price war is injecting new life into the market and making consumers sit up and take note. If they take advantage of the lower prices now available it will help them to manage their energy costs going forward.

“If consumers want to benefit they need to ditch their expensive standard plans and move to one of the new online energy plans. The average standard plan is £1,239 a year while the average online plan is now £1,015 a year – this is an easy saving of £224 a year for the average household. With winter fast approaching, it’s a saving households should definitely be looking to make.”

Via EPR Network
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Household Energy Prices Are Set To Tumble Again As E.ON Launches A New Online Energy Plan

The new plan sees E.ON become Britain’s second cheapest energy supplier, coming just behind EDF Energy. E.ON’s energy plan averages out at £1,017 a year, while EDF Energy’s average bill size comes in at £983. However, EDF Energy’s plan is only available in 10 out of 14 energy regions, which means that many households will not be able to benefit.

British Gas has been forced into third place by today’s move, leading to mounting speculation that Britain’s biggest supplier could make a bid to regain its crown by bringing out a market beating new plan. This would be even better news for consumers as it would push the cost of online energy plans down even further.

The online price war is also proving very timely for consumers coming off fixed price energy plans this year. There are 4.6 million UK households currently on fixed or capped energy plans – many of these were savvy enough to fix their prices last year therefore avoiding much of last year’s price hikes.

However, many of these plans are coming to an end and households will be thrown back onto the market. If they don’t act they could be pushed back onto a standard energy plan, which would see their annual bill increase by just under £100. However, if they take advantage and move to the cheapest online energy plan they could actually see their energy bill fall by £62.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The online price war is hotting up and energy prices are coming down as a result. If consumers want to benefit they need to ditch their expensive standard plans and move to one of the new online energy plans. The average standard plan is £1,239 a year while the average online plan is now £1,025 a year – this is an easy saving of £214 a year for the average household.

It’s also good news for people coming off low price fixed rate deals. They managed to avoid much of the 42% hike in prices last year and are still sitting on a competitive plan today. Now, as this plan comes to an end, they have the option to move online and save a further £62 on the cost of their energy. This is a real lifeline to those who were worried about where they were going to go next and who could see that moving back to a standard energy plan was going to cost them dear.”

Via EPR Network
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