Are we paying too much for our gas and electricity?
PUBLISHED: 15:58 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:42 28 February 2013
Adam Aiken reports on how many of us are still paying too much for our gas and electricity...
Millions of households are still paying over the odds for domestic fuel.
Data produced recently by consumer champions Which? suggested that two in three consumers in the region have switched suppliers but everyone else remains with their original suppliers, and those people are likely to be paying well over the odds for their gas and electricity.
The Christmas and New Year period traditionally results in some of the biggest bills of the year, so experts are advising people to think about changing energy providers now.
Alison Morrison, of Which?, said people who had used the organisations switching service had saved a small fortune.
Uswitch.com another service that helps householders look for the best energy deals has also highlighted the massive savings to be made from moving to better deals.
It says the annual cost of energy is typically 1,239 for a standard customer paying quarterly by cash or cheque, but only 974 a year for someone on an online plan. To cut the bill by that average of 265 a year, you need to move to dual fuel (in other words, get both gas and electricity from the same supplier), pay by direct debit and sign up to an online plan.
Uswitch has also broken down the savings that can be made. For example, customers on standard energy tariffs are paying more than 100 a year extra for their heating than those on online plans. Hot water costs 235 a year on average, but this figure drops to 185 a year for online customers. And the annual cost of lighting falls from 99 to 78.
But with only 5pc of households thought to be on online plans, and the take-up of these tariffs particularly low amongst vulnerable groups such as the elderly and low income families, the scope to cut the cost of bills remains huge.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at Uswitch, said: These figures demonstrate the real impact moving to a cheaper online energy plan can have on the cost of heating your home.
Heating your home and enjoying hot water will automatically cost 160 a year less if you move to an online plan. With so many families and elderly people worried about these costs, this simple step could make a real difference to quality of life.