Electricity switches down in March compared to last year

24 April 2020   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Number of customers switching their electricity supplier in March 2020 was down 4.3% on same month a year ago.

Almost 600,000 customers switched to another electricity supplier in March 2020 with over 200,000 of these switching from large to small or mid-tier suppliers.

While March 2020's figures are 4.3% lower than March 2019, trade association Energy UK notes that switching is up by 10% compared to this time last year.

Energy switches can still take place during the coronavirus outbreak as home visits are not required, although it may be that Covid-19 is putting customers off switching.

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Switching still high

In total, 589,297 households switched their electricity supplier in March 2020. This down on the 615,503 who switched in March 2019.

The figures for the first three months of 2020 show more than 1.59 million households have switched so far this year, compared to the 1.45 million at this point in 2019.

A high number of switches in January (446,750 compared to 382,655 in January 2019) and February (558,836 compared to 452,977) had set 2020 on track to be another record breaking year, but the slowdown in March may be the beginning of a downward trend due to the uncertainty around coronavirus.

There were a record number of electricity switches in 2019 with 6.4 million customers switching supplier. This was an increase on the 5.8 million who switched in 2018.

More customers are still switching from large suppliers to small and mid-tier ones, although the last major spike for this kind of switch was in April 2019 when 316,456 customers switched from a large supplier to a smaller one in the wake of the default energy price cap alteration.

Still possible to switch

Only when the figures for April and perhaps May are released will we see whether there's a distinctive downward trend which could be connected to the Covid-19 outbreak.

However, energy switches are still taking place during the coronavirus crisis as all the work is done behind the scenes and doesn't require a home visit. While we've seen some broadband operators suspend home visits, this isn't applicable to energy switching.

Regulator Ofgem set out their expectations for energy suppliers during Covid-19 earlier this month, and there's an unsurprising emphasis on protecting the vulnerable and treating all customers fairly during the outbreak.

Essential home visits for vital or emergency repairs must still take place, but smart meter installations fall into the category of low-priority and so there won't be many of those until lockdown ends.

Ofgem also stated they wouldn't be penalising suppliers for failing to meet switching standards including the new ones on switching times due to come into force on 1 May, although they warned them to meet the guidance as much as possible.

Save money by switching

With more people working from home during the coronavirus crisis or even just staying home with the children, it's inevitable that home energy usage is going to rise.

Although the weather is broadly nice and that should limit extra heating costs during the day, electricity usage for study and entertainment devices is likely to increase dramatically.

Customers should check their meter readings and compare them to recent bills to see if their usage is increasing dramatically during the lockdown then they should compare cheap energy deals to find cheaper energy options.

Switching remains one of the best ways to lower energy bills, although don't forget to improve a property's energy efficiency wherever possible and consider using low energy lighting and other home devices.

To learn more about switching from one energy supplier to another, read this in-depth guide.


How much could you save on your energy bill?

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