Could simpler energy bills help households to get a better energy deal?

How well do you understand your energy bill? A new report has highlighted how bill confusion is one of the biggest barriers to UK households switching their energy supplier.

We’ve got together with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) – an independent think tank – to dig deep into the energy market, looking at what works for consumers and what doesn’t. In particular, we asked the IPPR to look at what’s preventing UK households from taking advantage of competitive energy deals and switching their energy supplier. Could simplified billing be a step towards helping consumers get a better deal?

The results

The report highlights the current confusion around bills as the biggest barrier to consumers making the most of the very competitive energy deals currently available. Other reasons for not switching suppliers include:

  • A lack of trust in energy companies
  • Not having access to the internet
  • A lack of awareness that it’s actually possible to change suppliers.
  • Some consumers said they felt energy companies just ‘don’t speak the same language’. A comment many of us probably relate to…

The report also explores other issues within the energy market, including:

  • How the roll-out of smart meters will impact our homes
  • What can be learnt from overseas energy markets, to understand how our future energy bills and the whole billing process can be simplified and improved.

Simple Bills

On the back of this report, here at comparethemarket.com, we’ve decided to launch a Simple Bills campaign. We want Ofgem to ensure all energy providers simplify the information in their customers’ bills by following a standardised format and using easy-to-understand, jargon-free language.

We’ve produced an example of what we believe a simple bill could look like, based on what consumers told us they’d want to see on their bills.

Here’s what a simple bill could look like:

Simplied energy bills
Simplified energy bill
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Peter Earl

Head of Energy

comparethemarket.com

This report is a positive step in identifying where the issues in the energy market lie, and ways in which regulators and energy companies can improve the system to help reduce the financial burden on consumers. However, action needs to be taken to ensure that people are getting the information they need and, vitally, that it’s clear so they can understand it and act upon it. We need a bill jargon bonfire, and it’s time to light the match.

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