Research by MakeItCheaper.com shows that eight-out-of-10 people who have switched energy suppliers would do the same for an elderly relative or neighbour if the process was made easier for them.
This army of would-be volunteers has been identified in a survey of 1,015 people, all of whom have switched their own home energy supplier in wake of the recent wave of price rises. A total of 800 respondents (78.8%) said they would be prepared to switch on behalf of someone they know who is unable or hesitant to do it themselves – eg the elderly or those not online. However many of those willing said they were unsure how to go about it – or even whether it is legal – and wanted clear guidance from the government.
As a result, MakeItCheaper.com has launched a 'Consented Switching Hotline' to help those who are willing to find the best energy tariffs for others. This service is available online or via a free-to-use helpline, whose advisors can even arrange a 3-way call to include the person whose tariff is being switched.
This means that more people, particularly those without internet access or an email address, can now be protected from energy price rises and pay less for their heating this winter. The annual saving to be made by first-time switchers currently stands at an average of £253 per household (ranging from £212 in the North West to £294 in Yorkshire).
Jonathan Elliott, founder and CEO of MakeItCheaper.com, commented:
"Those who are daunted by the whole idea of switching are often those who'd benefit most from having lower bills. If you know people in that situation, do something thoughtful and stretch their heating budget further this winter. All it costs is a quarter-of-an-hour of your time but, if you're particularly worried about them, there's nothing stopping you from setting up a direct debit in your name to pay for their energy as well."
According to DECC, 3.3 million people in the UK switched energy companies in 2012. If eight in 10 of those had also switched on behalf of someone else, the UK's elderly would have had half a billion pounds more to spend on heating their homes during a Winter which claimed 31,000 lives because of freezing temperatures. More recent figures from Energy UK, show the number of people switching is at its highest since 2010, with 614,000 people having switched in November.
Judith Tate in Stockport: "If this had been available when I was my mother's carer, I would have used it."
David Holden in Reading: "We have elderly neighbours who feel they cannot switch because they do not know how to use computers and are not online."
Gerald Ashfield in Leamington Spa: "My parents who, like 90 per cent of 70-plus year olds do not have internet access, are left in the cold. They should be on the cheapest tariff by right and not being fleeced."
Peter Haynes in Rotherham: "My supplier had a cheaper tariff and had not told me. That just made me more determined to change. I will now be doing it for my mother too."
The Consented Switching Hotline is available weekdays 9am – 5.30pm on 0800 140 4661 or, for further information, visit www.MakeItCheaper.com/consent.