A friend recently writes on Facebook: “Which is the cheapest green energy supplier? I am going to switch and it makes no sense for me to just switch to another big player”. A klaxon sounded in my head. The moment the green energy industry has been waiting for – people voluntarily discussing wanting to switch to a green tariff openly, on Facebook.
In a nutshell, he summed up the mood of the moment: Big Six, we’ve had it with you. Especially now we don’t need to pay a premium to go all out for a renewable supply. And we’re also happy to talk about wishing to go green openly, to our friends, rather than our concern for the environment being our own little secret, to be kept away from cynics and pragmatists.
A big turning point in the shift towards regular, domestic bill payers going green rather than sticking with the devil they know was when green tariffs started to feature on the top-rated lists of Which? the consumer group. Historically, Which?, always acting in the interests of consumers, had been a bit sniffy about green energy, blaming the subsidies that support it for making tariffs higher generally.
But now that the cost of producing renewable electricity has fallen, thanks in no small part to China producing the parts for a lot less, and the Government has basically scrapped subsidies for small scale onshore wind and solar, this argument can no longer be used. If the dirty stuff is expensive, we can no longer blame the clean stuff. Clean energy has become the consumer’s friend, rather than the enemy of keen budgeters everywhere.
I digress… the point is that now, it is routinely cheaper to switch to a 100% green energy supplier than it is to switch to AN Other tariff from a Big Six provider.
Some clever campaigners have cottoned on to this point and have introduced something called “the Big Clean Switch”. Today marks the launch of their first city-wide initiative, in Manchester. They’ve got the backing of all of the Manchester councils, as well as football clubs and universities, to promote the cost and environmental benefits to millions of Mancunians. Even Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, has reportedly switched his domestic tariff.
The average cost saving per household in the September pilot phase of the scheme was £290 a year.
The environmental benefits are local too. If one in 100 homes in Greater Manchester switches, it’s the equivalent of taking more than 10,000 cars off the road. Plus, for every home that switches, £10 – £15 will be raised to support environmental projects across Greater Manchester.
Don’t get me wrong, 100% renewable tariffs are not necessarily the very cheapest you will find on the market. But they really are not far off (the cheapest is apparently from a new supplier called Tonik and it’s only £8 more expensive a year than the rock-bottom tariff) – and they WAY undercut the Big Six’s standard variable rates that millions of still insist on being on.
Coincidentally, someone else recently asked: “if there is one thing I can do today, or tomorrow, to make my finances just that one bit greener, what is it?” The answer is to switch to a green energy tariff. Without a doubt.
Sometimes doing the “right thing” can seem daunting and being told to do it provokes a rebellious reaction – there are no greater turn-offs than the righteous telling you to be more righteous – I’ll be a better person in my own time, thanks.
But then, if you are switching anyway? As that Facebook friend astutely observed, to not go green feels like a big missed opportunity, but for oneself, not just our great big planet.