Energy bill postcode lottery revealed
Consumers could be paying £189 more per year on their energy bills because of where they live, according to new research.
This postcode lottery, revealed by price comparison site uSwitch.com, shows that householders on the same energy plan, using the same amount of gas and electricity and the same payment method are paying more based on where they live.
The average regional variation – across all providers – is £100, but Scottish Power was shown to have the largest regional variation, with a difference of £189 between its cheapest and most expensive regions.
This difference sees Scottish Power Online Reward energy customers in Cardiff paying £1,031, while those in Nottingham pay £842.
Regional pricing has always been common in suppliers’ standard energy plans, but online customers have tended to avoid such stark variations.
Now the regional variations are also hitting customers on the cheapest online energy plans, although these plans remain the most competitive overall.
The research from uSwitch reveals suppliers often charge higher prices to customers in their incumbent regions – the region the supplier was initially based before companies were allowed to compete in an open market.
EDF Energy came out as the worst offender of this, charging its highest prices to customers living in its three incumbent regions – London, Brighton and Bristol.
The cheapest region in the country is the East Midlands, with customers paying an average of £855 per year. Meanwhile, those living in the Swalec region of South Wales are not so lucky, with average bills of £949 a year.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Regional pricing is a key part of the competitive battlefield – the important thing is for consumers to avoid becoming a casualty. Consumers cannot assume their local supplier will automatically be better – very often they are not.
“Even though all suppliers offer their cheapest prices online, these can vary by as much as £155 within one area, customers should make sure they move to the most competitive plan with the most competitive supplier in their region,” she adds.
The figures used by uSwitch were based on an online dual fuel customer using 3,300kWh of electricity and 20,500 kWh of gas per year and paying by direct debit.
Check out Moneywise TV’s, Nathalie Bonney, as she finds more ways to cut the cost of your utilities bill.