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Online money saving advice launched

6 April 2011
  • Over 60,000 people have benefited from Energy Best Deal - putting the campaign online will help even more
  • Campaign provides advice on keeping energy bills as low as possible and on consumers’ energy rights
  • Impartial advice is vital for consumers as Ofgem’s research shows only 1 in 5 consumers say they are active in the energy market
  • Consumers who have not switched pay around £170 more on average for their energy*

Citizens Advice and energy regulator Ofgem today launch their Energy Best Deal campaign online. Consumers are now just clicks away from getting impartial advice from Citizens Advice and Ofgem on how to keep the cost of energy as low as possible through energy efficiency and getting a better deal in the energy market.

The videos ensure consumers know their energy rights when it comes to dealing with energy companies. They cover dealing with doorstep sales people, debt and disconnection, and getting help for consumers struggling to pay their energy bills.

John Rhodes, Head of Financial Capability at Citizens Advice said

“We are very excited to launch Energy Best Deal online with Ofgem. This will help giveeven more people the confidence to gettheright deal. At a time when utility prices are once again rising,it isparticularly important that hard pressed consumers don't spend more than they need to.”

Last month, Ofgem’s Retail Market Review showed that energy companies make higher profits from consumers who do not switch. This is important as Ofgem’s research also shows that only one in five consumers say that they are actively engaged in the market. This means four out of five consumers are at risk of paying more for their energy than they need to. On average consumers who have not switched pay around £170 more for their energy.*

Ofgem has proposed a radical overhaul of the industry to address the lack of effective competition by sweeping away complex and unfair pricing and breaking the stranglehold of the Big Six over the electricity market. However, there is still plenty that consumers can do to save money on their energy bills before Ofgem’s reforms come into effect.

Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s Senior Partner for Sustainable Development, said

“Our latest research shows that consumers who are not active in the market are paying on average around £170 a year more than they have to. Energy Best Deal is here to help the four out of five consumers who say they not taking part in the energy market shop around to get a better deal.”

While Ofgem is working to bring in reforms to make comparing energy deals even easier, consumers should still take advantage of recent improvements like annual statements and the advice in these videos to help reduce the cost of their energy.”

The established Energy Best Deal face-to-face advice scheme has already reached over 60,000 ordinary consumers since it was launched by Citizens Advice and Ofgem in 2008. Now, its key messages have been distilled into seven short videos that explain, in an easy to understand way, actions that that everyone can take to keep their energy bills as low as possible.

Watch the videos online: www.ofgem.gov.uk/Consumers/smebd/Pages/smebd.aspx

Outline of each video

Shopping around for the best energy deal: this section guides the consumer through the simple steps to take if they want to look for a better energy deal. It also ensures that it’s the right deal for them and, if they want, how to go about switching supplier.

How to be energy efficient: presents a range of handy hints on how to save money by using less energy in the home. This film also points householders to further sources of energy saving advice.

Getting help with your energy bills: there is help and advice available to people who might find paying their bills difficult. Most energy suppliers can offer help to customers on low incomes or who have special requirements. There are also a range of government benefits. Watch this section to find out about entitlement.

Dealing with sales people: Ofgem sets energy suppliers rules they must follow when it comes to the conduct of their sales staff.  This films tells domestic consumers what they should expect from energy sales people who might knock at their door or call them on the phone, and what they need to know to be confident they are getting a good and appropriate deal for them.

How to make a complaint: sometimes disputes arise between customers and their energy suppliers. This clip gives a useful guide on what customers can expect if they make a complaint to their supplier and what to do if they are not happy with their suppliers’ response.

Avoiding debt and disconnection: advice for those who get into debt about what their supplier can do to help, and what steps they can take to avoid the possibility of disconnection.

More money in your pocket: a case study featuring consumers who have received help from Energy Best Deal from Citizens Advice.

A final film gives an outline of how Energy Best Deal works and some consumers give feedback on how they were helped to save money.

*This is for an offline Dual Fuel Direct Debit customer switching to the best deal available.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.