Energy switching should take just one day
Customers wanting to switch energy suppliers to get a better deal should be able to do so in just a day, according to energy company First Utility.
The independent supplier is calling on the industry to ditch the antiquated process, which is "stuck in the past and limiting competition" and currently takes up to five weeks.
The company said "of the five week existing switching time, only several hours are spent actioning a switch, the rest of the time is spent waiting for antiquated industry processes to run their course".
Instead, First Utility wants the industry to work with energy regulator Ofgem and the government to improve the current switching system by updating IT systems to share customer data more quickly; and cut down the amount of time suppliers have to object to the transfer.
The slow and complicated switching process is putting off 35% of energy customers moving to a cheaper supplier, according to a survey by the company. First Utility said that if those customers were to move to a better deal, UK consumers could save £1.5 billion as a result.
The company has launched a petition - which can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/53270 - and is aiming to get 100,000 signatures so the issue can be debated in Parliament.
Ian McCaig, First Utility's chief executive, said: "The energy industry needs to follow the example set by the telecoms and banking sectors. It takes just four hours to switch mobile phone providers and you can change banks in a week. It is less complicated to change energy provider, yet we are stuck with antiquated processes that suit no-one other than the incumbents."
In a further bid to shake up competition in the energy market, Britain's first green energy company Ecotricity is to undercut the standard electricity tariffs of the Big Six by supplying green electricity for less than the price of their standard tariffs from Tuesday 1 October.
Ecotricity has price-matched the standard tariffs of the Big Six up until now, but from the beginning of next month it will set its prices independently. While the savings are only likely to amount to "a few pounds" in the short term, the company hopes to be able to cut prices further as it becomes able to supply more of its own energy.
Five things you can do quicker than switching energy providers
1. Travel to the moon and back (approx. 7 days)
2. Rewire a three bedroom house (7 days)
3. Drive the full length of the famous Route 66 (2 weeks)
4. Exchange contracts on a house (4 weeks)
5. Recover from a hip operation (4 weeks)