Article | March 22, 2021
Despite rising energy costs and dwindling customer ratings of the ‘Big Six’, over 37% of Brits still believe they are getting a good deal when it comes to gas and electricity.
Here, Keith Bastian, CEO of rising independent Outfox the Market, challenges those age-old perceptions that are damaging consumer bank balances…
I have never quite understood the notion of pay more for the same service. Except that last part, is really where the difference lies.
As I have made my way through the energy market, it seems clear to me that we are facing a common notion.
Age-old dinosaurs, that have relied on name status and brand power to retain customer loyalty, despite not providing anything different or any value-added service, give the impression that customers are somehow safer with them. That is the biggest misconception.
We at Outfox the Market would like to challenge that.
Of course, when I speak in such a way, I am referring to the ‘Big Six’, those long-established brands whose share in the energy market whilst substantial, is increasingly coming at the cost to its customers.
For example, in the latest independent customer rankings from Which, it was determined that the traditional big energy companies had some of the lowest scores for customer service and value for money, yet some customers still feel secure with them.
On the contrary, rising independents, such as ourselves, were scoring highly in these areas and this is where I feel the difference lies.
Regardless of your opinion on fossil fuels and/or renewables, it is more the value of looking after your customers, understanding their concerns and dealing with them efficiently that has become somewhat lost for the ‘Big Six’.
It is true that they have a larger proportion of customers to serve with a larger workforce, but that should not be to the detriment to the service they provide.
What were are seeing now, as evidenced by the recent Ofgem price hikes, is the ‘Big Six’ once again failing consumers in these areas, with most of the top names putting costs up by £96 a year on average as of April.
I am not one to not acknowledge that energy firms are tongue-tied in some respects in passing regulated costs on; there are times when we must. However, customers could also benefit from a little research.
Even with growing numbers of consumers switching, nearly 60% of all households in the UK are still on standard variable rate tariffs, those that are subject to the incoming Ofgem hikes.
So, the real question is why aren’t more customers switching? Heritage, loyalty and brand association. These facets really should not come at cost of paying more for energy.
I really believe it is down to time-sensitivity and a misunderstanding around the barriers to switching, with cost somewhere in the middle.
According to MoneySuperMarket, 75% of us would switch if we could save £149.99. A hefty figure, but why not the £96 highlighted earlier? That is still pretty good, and something that would add up nicely over the years.
I understand we are time-poor as a nation, it’s well publicised, but we’re all well averse in switching phone contracts and insurance deals, so why not where our energy comes from?
Truth be told, I believe it’s an age-old notion that energy is ‘just something that comes with the house, not worth the hours or hassle to change.’
But in all honesty, it takes a matter of seconds to switch. Firms such as ourselves offer this and more via a quick and easy quote online. Best of all, many energy providers will help manage the switching process for you, contacting your current provider and notifying them of your intentions.
I would also like to challenge this notion that once an energy firm ‘gets you’, you are ‘locked in’ for years upon end in ever rising contract costs.
If you are on a standard variable tariff, you can switch to a new provider at any time. What’s more, even if you are in a fixed term energy deal, which can be subject to exit fees, sometimes the cost involved outweighs the savings you can make with your new provider.
Customers must do their best to ask more of energy firms, check the service they are being given and hold it up against national bill averages. Compare what your neighbours, friends and family are paying under similar living circumstances, and weigh up if you are being given a fair deal.
Living costs and regulated price hikes are always going to be an ever present worry, so I call on both customers and energy firms to do their due diligence in these respects.
Age-old energy firms relying on their reputation must take a serious inward look at their lessening market share to understand why they are failing customers.
It’s time to make a change now, both from business attitude and a consumer standpoint; switching is quick, easy and a vital notion to bear in mind, as both retaining custom and saving money becomes an ever-growing sticking point in the energy market.
Article | March 22, 2021
Many discussions abound on how Australia can reach renewable energy targets of 50 per cent and much more. Many experts believe achieving this goal will depend on the availability of a low cost, bulk energy storage infrastructure. Pumped hydro has received much attention in this regard. While technically feasible, bulk storage still requires transmission and distribution infrastructure that is not only costly but will take considerable time to implement. A far simpler and cost effective route is the bottom-up approach of turning each house into an autonomous energy unit. The use of solar panels in homes and small industry has proven to be remarkably successful.
Article | March 22, 2021
SA Water’s electricity supply is about to become greener and cheaper again with the addition of another major solar power system, and an even bigger installation to soon follow.
The utility says more 7,300 solar panels installed at the second pump station on its pipeline between Swan Reach and Stockwell are now connected and ready to go.
“The Swan Reach to Stockwell Pipeline spans across more than 50 kilometres inland from the mighty Murray across to the northern Barossa area, and therefore requires significant energy to pump clean, safe drinking water across such large distances,” said SA Water’s Nicola Murphy
While the total capacity of this new solar farm wasn’t provided, Ms. Murphy said it will generate approximately 5,224 megawatt hours of clean, green energy annually. There’s more solar energy to come for this section of pipeline, with a further 16,000 panels currently being connected at the first pump station.
Article | March 22, 2021
Human pollution such as burning fossil fuels has been causing global environmental change for decades. Climate change impacts leave us no time to hesitate before taking urgent actions towards a more sustainable life. Going solar can be one of these actions. Luckily, scientists all over the world work on new materials that are going to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient. Australian and Chinese engineers experiment with a crystalline structure perovskite. Though being rather promising, this material is also very fragile. That is why it is planned to be used in tandem with silicon panels, which are more durable.