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Money & Rights

Switch and Save

Worried about switching energy suppliers? A new breed of companies can do it for you, as Jo Cooper reports

January saw the introduction of a price cap on all standard and default energy tariffs, resulting in energy customers on these tariffs saving an average £76 a year, based on typical usage

What many people fail to realise, however, is that they could save significantly more than this simply by shopping around and switching their energy supplier.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, says: “The price cap is supposed to help consumers, so it is a real cause for concern that some of the best-value deals seem to have disappeared from the market just as it is introduced.

“This demonstrates why the cap can only be a temporary fix – what is now needed is real reform to promote competition, innovation and improved customer service in the broken energy market. If you are unhappy with your energy provider, you should look to switch now to save large amounts of money.”

It’s a view echoed by others. Amanda Cumine from energy auto-switching service weflip says: “While a price cap has good intentions and could save some of the most vulnerable households who are already on the most expensive energy deals a small amount of money, it could act as an inertia comfort blanket for millions of households.

“The only sure-fire way to make sure you’re not being ripped off is to keep switching.” Sadly, too few of us choose to switch energy suppliers, perhaps seeing it as too much hassle or too daunting.

A report by Ofgem last year revealed that only one in 10 over 65s has switched their energy supplier in the past 12 months – compared with one in five for the under 65s – and that 15 per cent of older consumers required help with switching suppliers.

Mark Gutteridge, managing director of Flipper, the UK’s first auto-switching service, says: “We are seeing a polarisation in the energy market where young tech-savvy people are getting good deals and older people are staying with their energy supplier year after year. Young people need to help ensure older relatives are not paying more than necessary.

“Ensuring a person is on the cheapest energy deal is now easier than ever as you can register them with an energy auto-flipping site, and that person will get a message when a cheaper tariff has been found and the switch can be made for them.”

Auto-switching certainly sounds a lot simpler than going through endless comparison sites, looking at all the different tariffs to work out the best deal.

Ten years ago, price comparison websites revolutionised how people obtained their energy. Today, auto-switching or flipping services are taking the hassle out of switching.

How auto-switching works

There are several auto-switching or ‘flipping’ sites, including Flipper (www.flipper.co.uk), Labrador (www.thelabrador.co.uk), weflip (www.weflip.com), Lookaftermybills (www.look aftermybills.com) and Migrate (www,migrate.co.uk/)

By giving them your postcode, current energy supplier, tariff and normal energy consumption, they work out (using computer algorithms) which company and tariff would save you the most money. Most are free to use as they take a cut from suppliers, but Flipper charges an annual subscription of £25 which you only pay if you can save by switching.

Flipper’s Mr Gutteridge says they find a better deal for 97 per cent of people who sign up with them, typically within 48 hours. “On average members are flipped every nine months and are only flipped if a saving of more than £50 is found (that’s a saving of £50 after exit fees are taken into account).”

Since Flipper was launched in 2016 it has completed more than 34,000 flips for 24,000 customers, with a typical customer saving £385 per year.

“Flipper manages the whole switching process for the customer,” he says. “We don’t just look at tariff rates but also consider exit fees, the time left on the current deal, and supplier switching times to ensure you are moved to the right deal at the right time to maximise your savings.”

“I’ve saved over £700”

Retiree Richard Lewis first signed up to auto-switching website Flipper two years ago after a recommendation from his daughter . Since then he has been ‘flipped’ three times, saving £735.40 in total.

He says the savings have helped him and his wife to enjoy their retirement, spending money on holidays, meals out and indulging their love of the arts with theatre trips.

Richard, who in the past kept a careful eye on what he paid for energy by trawling through comparison websites, said: “Flipper seemed to be a better way of doing things.

“It means somebody else can do the research and shopping around for better deals – a lot better than I could if I was doing it myself – removing the effort of going through the whole switching process.”

He added: “It would have been difficult for me to have achieved these savings to the same level if I had done it myself. Flipper is looking at this all the time and, if something is wrong with my bill, they let me know. I think all of this is tremendous value.”

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