Consumers are increasingly switching to small and medium sized energy providers and shunning the “Big Six”, according to new figures.
One in five customers switched their energy provider in 2018 – an increase of 6% on the previous year.
Data from industry association Energy UK found that 5.8 million changed their supplier last year, or an average of just under half a million each month.
It continues a trend of year-on-year increases in energy switching, Energy UK said, with around 30% – or 1.7 million customers – moving to a small or mid-tier supplier.
Recent research by consumer watchdog Which? found that five small energy suppliers topped the rankings for customer satisfaction.
Octopus Energy came top with a satisfaction score of 80%, closely followed by Robin Hood Energy and So Energy in joint second place with 78% and Ebico and Tonik Energy in joint fourth position on 76%.
But bucking the trend was small supplier Solarplicity – it was the worst energy firm according to its customers, with an overall score of just 44%.
Which? also noted that three small firms – Spark Energy, Extra Energy and Economy Energy – have ceased trading since the survey was carried out, although Spark still operates as a brand name after being taken over by Ovo.
Their results aren’t included but all performed poorly, Which? said.
The Big Six – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – were relegated to the bottom third of the rankings.
None received an overall customer score higher than 58%.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of Home Products and Services, said: “Our survey shows the importance of value for money and good customer service – energy suppliers delivering both to their customers tend to be thriving, while the Big Six and other poorly-ranked firms are paying the price for not giving customers what they want.”
Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The Which? survey highlights once again that the Big Six are miserably failing their customers.
She added: “Customers should continue to shop around because they cannot rely on energy suppliers giving consumers a good deal or delivering the quality customer service which they deserve.”
The figures come at the start of “Big Energy Saving Week” – an initiative run by Citizens Advice and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
A spokesman for Citizens Advice said despite the introduction of a price cap on energy bills last year, households could save more than £150 each year by switching supplier.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “These figures show that there are still large numbers of people paying over the odds on their energy bills.
“While the price cap will mean people paying a fairer price, there are still substantial savings to be made.”