Electricity switching figures for 2018 have hit a “new record”, with more than half a million customers moving to a new supplier in September.

The figures from Energy UK, which take the total figure to 4.2 million, represent the highest number of switches in a month so far this year.

September’s figure is a 12 per cent increase on the previous month’s switching numbers (494,839 in August 2018).

With more than 70 suppliers operating on the market, increasing numbers of customers appear to be taking advantage of the deals on offer.

In September, for example, 31 per cent (172,193) of all electricity switches were to small and mid-tier suppliers.

Of all switches during the month 42 per cent were from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers, 11 per cent were from small and mid-tier to larger suppliers, 26 per cent were between larger suppliers and 21 per cent were between small and mid-tier suppliers.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “It is great that switching reaches a new high in 2018 – with over half a million customers making a move last month reaping the benefits of increasing competition and innovative services.

“With the proposed price cap expected to be in place by the end of the year it is crucial that switching doesn’t suffer, with Ofgem’s own impact assessment suggesting there could be significant impact on switching levels.

“Our hope is that consumers will continue to take advantage of the ever-growing competition and choice and significant savings that are available by either contacting their existing supplier or shopping around for the right deal for them whether that’s a green tariff, cheaper deal or better customer service.”

In response to the latest figures, energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry, said: “These latest figures show the level of competition in the market. With around 70 companies to choose from, consumers can make big savings if they vote with their feet and shop around.

“There are still over 11 million households on the most expensive energy tariffs. That’s why the government is taking action through the energy price cap to protect consumers from poor value deals from this winter.”

Meanwhile Amanda Cumine, of recently launched automatic switching service Weflip, said while it is encouraging to see the annual high figures, the majority of UK households are still “overpaying for their energy”.

She added: “While September saw more than half a million households make the switch, Ofgem’s latest State of the Energy Market report found that there were more than 15 million (54 per cent) British households on poor value default tariffs, who could be overpaying by an average of £352 each year, a collective £5.3 billion wasted. This shows that inertia and customer confusion is still a paramount issue in the energy market that needs to be tackled.

“Tackling the issue of disengagement is particularly important in the face of the upcoming energy price cap, which could potentially act as an inertia comfort blanket for the millions of households that are overpaying the most.”

Stephen Murray, of MoneySuperMarket, added:“Energy UK’s figures today (25 October) show that many consumers are making this choice to switch and fix their prices and this remains the only way to ensure that energy bills are kept as low as possible.

“None of us can influence market prices (and they are going up) but what we can do is make sure we are paying the lowest prices at any given time.”

The price cap, due to take effect at the end of the year, has received a mixed reception within the industry.

Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead warned higher bills for the most hard-up customers could be a “perverse outcome” of the market-wide cap on standard variable tariffs (SVTs).

Meanwhile Eon UK chief executive Michael Lewis said he had concerns that market intervention “brings the danger” of reducing customer engagement and could “ultimately be counterproductive” to driving forward the new energy agenda for customers.