Smaller energy firms have warned the market is at a “watershed moment” with customers “taking the power back”, as new figures reveal more than three million customers have switched supplier this year.
The figures published by Energy UK show 385,000 customers switched their electricity provider in July, a 16 per cent rise compared to the same month last year.
According to Energy UK, this brings the total number of people who have switched supplier this year to more than 3 million.
These latest switching figures come at a crunch time for the Big Six, particularly after British Gas’s controversial announcement that it will increase electricity prices by 12.5 per cent in mid-September.
Speaking to Utility Week, the co-founder of new entrants Bulb, Hayden Wood said it has seen the number of people switching to them almost double in the two weeks since the British Gas announcement, with around 21,000 new customers since the beginning of August.
“The thing that we have observed in the energy market over the last year is that there is a large number of consumers who have not switched or are not switching.
“I think consumers are fed up of having their prices increased a lot. British Gas were the last of the Big Six to do this, but all the other five did it this year as well. “I think people want a better deal,” added Wood. “It’s not like they are deliberately choosing not to get energy from the Big Six. They just want a better deal and the people who can do that for them are suppliers like ourselves.”
Wood added he expects to see more people start to switch in the autumn, which is traditionally a time when change providers.
While the co-founder of another supplier, Pure Planet, Steven Day, commented that the Big Six have “stirred their customers into action” by “consistently hiking their prices against the direction of the market”
“We’re at a watershed moment in the energy market where customers are literally taking the power back,” he added.
“So far, we’ve seen that customers are ready to embrace that kind of innovation with a smaller company, and we believe more will continue to do so.
“The challenge for new entrants into the energy industry is to dispel many of the myths which surround powering people’s homes,” said Day.
“We’ve been able to show people that switching is easy, cheaper tariffs are available and renewable energy doesn’t have to come at premium prices.”
While the energy expert at the consumer website uSwitch.com, Claire Osborne, said it was “incredibly encouraging” to see more than three million energy customers have switched supplier so far this year.
“This figure is made even more impressive when you consider that this time frame doesn’t include those consumers spurred into action by the recent British Gas price rise,” said Osborne.
“For any customers that have been affected by the British Gas price rise, or for customers that haven’t switched their energy tariff in over a year, I would urge them to check their bill and do an energy comparison – there are savings of up to £618 on offer.”