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Small is Beautiful for Energy Supply

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I have recently changed my energy supplier after staying loyal to one of the 'big six' for years. It's not that the supplier needed changing because of a gross lack of quality but, at the same time, I didn't just stay with them because they were particularly great. No, the real reason I changed is because I realised there is an alternative.

We've all seen the news - ever since the 2008 credit crunch there have been countless stories about fuel poverty, rising prices, dangerous monopolies and an apparent total lack of compassion for the average Joe. Every winter sees pensioners being interviewed, telling a quietly nodding reporter that they have to choose between eating and heating.

It's a bit nauseating. And it's tempting to get all Che Guevara on the energy barons: forcing a redistribution of wealth so Deirdre can eat well AND sleep in comfort. But even red Ed Miliband and his trade union bankrollers aren't going to try taxing EDF or British Gas into a corner. They wouldn't dare.

But there's power in the hands of the consumer. Smaller energy suppliers offer a viable alternative to the usual suspects and they often work out at far better value. Research from price comparison site uSwitch found that 32% of consumers would consider moving to a smaller supplier for better customer service and 28% would change for clearer bills.

In fact, only 19% were found to be content to stick, with the big six.

Furthermore, Which? Released a customer satisfaction survey for energy suppliers that found the top five spots have been taken by smaller suppliers, with the big six languishing at the bottom. Good Energy - a 100% renewable energy provider- was top for the third year in a row.

So why aren't more people taking the plunge? Well, people fear change, right? And perhaps they think that smaller suppliers couldn't offer the same quality. Or that smaller suppliers might crumble, leaving them in the lurch. Or that smaller suppliers might not be trustworthy. Or perhaps that smaller suppliers are too, well, small?

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch said: "Unfortunately, when it comes to energy suppliers, many consumers are caught in a trap - they're unhappy with the big six, they like what smaller suppliers have to offer, but they're too frightened to try one out."

Fear not! Mrs Robinson continues that: "Their fears are completely unfounded and could be laid to rest with the right education and reassurance."

Remember, If an energy supplier, whatever the size, were to go put of business, Ofgem, the government energy industry regulator, would take control and ensure customers were automatically transferred to a different supplier.

Mrs Robinson again: "The fact is that smaller suppliers offer competitive prices and a genuine alternative to being with the big six."

In other words, if you're not happy with your supplier, or you're with a big supplier and fancy trying to help facilitate change away from the monopolies of the wealthy, then switch! Switch your supplier and help keep the big six on their toes.

It's been my mini-revolution. My way of sticking it to the man and taking the power back. Not only does my supplier favour green energy over brown, but it helps distribute money to a smaller company that might, just might, make the big six more competitive. And do you know what? My bills have never been this easy to understand.

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