Winter Energy Bills : Consumers urged to check

24 November 2010

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has urged consumers in to check their energy bills and see if they can save money this winter.

His call comes as Consumer Focus Scotland launches a new campaign to save Scottish consumers money on energy bills by encouraging them to compare suppliers and switch if necessary.

The Energy Best Deal Scotland campaign, which is supported by Ofgem, was launched after research conducted by Consumer Focus Scotland showed that:

* around a million households in Scotland could be missing out on an average saving of 100 a year by switching, with many able to save much more.

* almost half (46 per cent) of people who switch energy supplier, save more than they expect to, while nearly a third (28 per cent) save in line with their expectations.


But nearly half of all Scots (48 per cent) have never switched their energy supplier and could be missing out on big savings this winter.

The campaign aims to encourage thousands of Scots - especially those on low incomes - to check they are getting the best energy deal.

Mr Peacock said:

"While many people are happy with the service their energy company provides, they may still be able to save by changing their tariff, or paying by direct debit.

"I'd encourage anyone who has never switched, or hasn't done so recently, to compare suppliers and check their bills.

"They are likely to find the biggest savings."

Marieke Dwarshuis, Director of Consumer Focus Scotland, commented:


"With winter fast approaching and energy prices set to go up again it's important that consumers know how they can save on their energy.

"People who haven't switched before can save an average of 100 a year on their fuel bills by switching supplier or tariff.

"We've approved several price comparison websites which make it easy for consumers to shop around for the best deal and if necessary, switch.

"However, people on low incomes are least likely to have switched suppliers according to our research, but they're
also the ones with most to gain.

"Because they are also less likely to have access to the internet and most likely to need extra help to switch, our campaign will aim to provide the advice, information and support that these consumers need to switch."

The Energy Best Deal Scotland campaign will provide information, advice and support about energy switching during the winter.

Information materials will be available through a wide range of outlets including Citizens Advice Bureaux, libraries, post offices, housing associations, health centres and local authorities.

Consumer Focus Scotland has therefore commissioned Money Advice Scotland (MAS) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to train frontline advisers so that they can advise consumers on switching.


Factbox: how to switch in five easy steps


1. Find out how much you pay now - get a copy of your most recent gas and electricity bill

2. Consumer Focus has accredited several price comparison websites through its Confidence Code.

You can find a list of these sites at www.consumerfocus.org.uk or call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06

3. Choose a deal that meets your needs and helps save you money

4. The new supplier will organise the changeover - they'll ask you for meter readings

5. Switching can take around six to eight weeks - your supply will continue as normal.


If you're over 60, on means-tested benefits or on a low income you might qualify for a social tariff.

Call your current supplier to find out.


 

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