Some background facts on UK domestic energy supply

1)      About 60% of UK householders say that they have never switched suppliers. 2)      The number of switchers is tending to fall. 22% of electricity customers switched in 2006, falling to 17% last year. The gas numbers were similar.

3)      Only 13% say that they have recently checked prices.

4)      Ofgem research suggests that ‘5-10%’ of householders ‘proactively’ search for better prices. Up to 90% of people were shown by their consumer research to be ‘disengaged’ or ‘passive’.

5)      The last check by Ofgem indicated that there were about 320 different tariffs available in the UK domestic market (January 2011). This is up from about 170 four years before.

6)      In the last thirty days (to 17.10.11) there have been 18 different tariff changes, of which 15 were initiated by the Big Six domestic energy suppliers. None of these changes affected the standard tariff rates. They were all changes to the hugely complex online rate cards as the suppliers withdrew their most attractive online offers. We can only presume that the main reason for these changes was concern that press comment would pick up on the huge differentials between the best online rates and the standard tariffs still taken by approximately 65% of all UK households.

7)      But even today customers in the Southern Electric supply area would save an average of £251 by switching from the standard tariffs of the Big Six to the cheapest online supplier. As of 17.10.11, the cheapest tariff is provided by small supplier First Utility and its cost for a household using 3,300 kWh of electricity and 16,000 kWh of gas would be about 1,025 compared to about £1,275 for the average standard rate card from the Big Six. The First Utility tariff has no cancellation charge but cannot be used by customers unlucky enough to be on independent gas distribution networks.