26/02/2015 | Energy Saving Trust | Green strategy and politics | Department of Energy and Climate Change, DECC, Amber Rudd, Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation, ECO, Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, energy saving, energy bills, saving money on energy bills, smart meters, switching energy suppliers
Amber Rudd MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), talks exclusively to EST about finding a cheaper energy deal, and why there has never been a better time to switch suppliers.
EST: How will the Power to Switch campaign encourage householders to think more about the energy they use in order to reduce their bills?
AR: Today millions of households are missing out on the best deals, despite the fact that there has never been a better time to switch. There are now more energy suppliers than ever to choose from with 27 competing for customers. So we have reformed the market to make it simpler, clearer and quicker to switch supplier - many households could actually save about £200 or more.
This campaign is about helping people to save money on their bills by switching their tariff or energy supplier. If people want to reduce their bills by making their homes more energy efficient, there are government schemes to help them do this, such as the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). With another release of funding for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund coming soon, even more people are set to enjoy a warmer, cheaper, greener home for years to come.
EST: Why is switching important for consumers?
AR: It is important because the market is more competitive and prices are coming down. Whether you switch to a better deal, to a renewable supplier or would like a better customer experience, now is a great time to shop around, switch and save. There are plenty of customers who have seen their bills fall.
EST: What steps have been taken to improve the consumer energy market in recent years, and why have these been important?
AR: We have introduced a series of reforms to help consumers to quickly and easily compare tariffs. We’ve halved the time it takes to switch and 10 per cent of the market is now made up of independent suppliers, whereas five years ago it was just one per cent.
EST: Many older and vulnerable customers could be missing out on a fair deal because they prefer to stay loyal to their supplier. What is the government doing to make sure everybody can enjoy the benefits from the messages in this campaign?
AR: We don’t want anyone to miss out. We have created the Big Energy Saving Network – a government funded outreach project to help elderly and vulnerable people struggling with their bills. The inaugural 2013/14 Big Energy Saving Network reached over 90,000 consumers.
Next winter two million low-income and vulnerable households will get £140 off their energy bills, thanks to the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme. Recent changes to the scheme will mean an additional 70,000 struggling families, disabled customers and other vulnerable people are eligible to apply. This rebate will help people heat their homes for less, giving them the help they need and money off their bills next winter.
EST: What other aspects of energy saving are important for consumers to understand?
AR: We encourage people to think about energy saving on a day-to-day basis because small changes have the potential to make a big difference. Here are just a few simple steps you can take:
EST: After switching, what can the savviest shoppers among us do next to reduce our bills?
AR: When buying household goods, savvy shoppers can look at the energy rating of an appliance to choose a more energy efficient product and save money. Since bringing in legislation, all household appliances now meet a minimum energy efficiency standard, which has helped to keep more money in the pockets of consumers. And we’re going even further by making sure that energy efficiency standards are upgraded on a regular basis for different product categories.
EST: It’s hoped 24 hour switching will be supported by the roll-out of smart meters. How close is the market to implementing 24 hour switching and what else needs to happen before we get there?
AR: We want to have 24 hour switching in place as soon as possible. Ofgem has published its proposals for moving to 24 hour switching in 2018/19. This is dependent on the roll-out of smart meters, the majority of which are expected to be installed by energy suppliers between 2015 and 2020.
To find out more, visit www.BeAnEnergyShopper.com.
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