You should be able to switch energy company in just one day, according to a new campaign from supplier First Utility, which says faster switching will give households a better chance of getting the best tariffs.
First Utility says suppliers should follow the lead of the banking and telecoms industries by speeding up the switching process (see our Cheap Gas and Electricity guide and join our free Cheap Energy Club to cut costs).
But despite launching the Fix The Switch drive, the firm has stopped short of saying it will take action on its own to make the change.
First Utility says the length of time it takes to switch – up to five weeks – deters people from changing suppliers.
The firm says it only takes suppliers a few hours to switch customers over. It says the rest of the time is spent waiting for "antiquated industry processes to run their course".
Prices are rising – switch now
First Utility wants the industry, regulator Ofgem and the Government to commit to simplifying the process to make it faster, more accurate and more efficient.
It's asking consumers to sign an online petition in support of one-day switching. If the petition receives 100,000 signatures, there will be a parliamentary debate on the issue.
MoneySavingExpert.com energy analyst Archna Luthra says: "It absolutely takes too long to switch energy provider, even after the 7-14 day cooling-off period, especially considering nothing really changes – your pipes and meter stay the same.
"Ofgem really needs to take charge on this, it's hurting people's chances of finding a good deal and slashing ever increasing bills.
"In the meantime, people should act now to sort their bill out. Price rises are coming and as switching takes a few weeks, at least get a cheap deal now and you should be on it by the time the weather turns and hikes kick in."
Quicker switching welcomed
Ofgem chief executive Andrew Wright says: "Ofgem is determined to speed up the switching process and we are working closely with suppliers to ensure that this happens.
"We welcome the fact that First Utility shares our goal and we want other suppliers to show the same ambition.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says: "We welcome any moves by companies to make switching energy supplier quicker and easier, so it's encouraging to see First Utility's proposal."
Additional reporting by Tim Heap.