RiDC has carried out research into the accessibility of energy price comparison and switching websites, including a survey, interviews and accessibility evaluations completed by members of our Consumer Panel.
This research identified key accessibility and other important website features to look out for. Below we tell you what these features are, and which of the 16 popular sites (identified from our survey) has them.
Accessibility features - what to look for
In order for users with digital accessibility needs to successfully navigate through the energy comparison process, it’s crucial that a price comparison and switching website supports the following accessibility features:
- Clear instructions and support
- Support for screen-readers
- Support for screen magnification software and changes made to text size or colour on a device or web browser
- Keyboard access
- Readable text size
- Good colour contrast
- Plain and understandable language
- Easily understood details of energy deals
Here we list which of the 16 most popular energy price comparison and switching websites has the above accessibility features and which ones we found to be most user-friendly for different assistive technologies and impairment groups.
Additional important website features - what to look for
Is the website Ofgem accredited?
Ofgem is the government regulator for energy. There are currently 11 price comparison websites and switching services that are Ofgem accredited. These websites have the logo below displayed on their homepage. This means that they meet Ofgem’s Confidence Code – a code of practice that ensures that energy quotes on price comparison and switching websites are calculated in a completely fair and unbiased way.
Does the website have a telephone helpline or live chat service?
88% of respondents who completed our survey felt that a price comparison website should have a telephone helpline, while 75% felt that it should have a chat service.
Does the website require an email address to view energy deals or quotes?
83.7% of survey respondents felt that the requirement to provide an email address is off-putting when using a price comparison website, with 60% reporting that they would be more likely to trust price comparison websites that do not require an email address to view energy deals or quotes.
Does the website allow you to tailor your results according to your energy requirements?
A price comparison website should have a wide range of filtering tools available on their results page so that users are provided with energy deals that are most relevant to their energy needs. The website should allow users to apply the following filters:
- Supplier rating – to display energy deals that score highly in terms of customer service
- Green energy deals – to display energy deals generated by natural and renewable sources
- No exit fees – to display energy deals that do not require paying a fee to leave
- Warm Home Discount (WHD) – to display energy deals that are part of the government initiative provided by certain energy suppliers that gives low-income households a one-off discount of £140 off their gas and/or electricity bill between October and March.
- Paper billing – to display energy deals that also provide bills in paper format.
Does the website have an accessibility statement?
It is important for a price comparison website to communicate to consumers what measures they are taking to ensure their website is accessible, what issues exist and/or provide practical guidance on how to make their website more user-friendly (e.g. changing the text size, screen colour via your web browser). Such statements should be well sign-posted and located at the bottom of every webpage.
What information is important to have to hand when providing details about your current energy supplier?
- Your postcode
- Name of your current energy supplier
- Name of your current energy tariff
- Your annual energy usage or spend – we would advise entering your actual gas and electricity usage (in kWh) rather than spend to get the most accurate quotes. If possible, try not to rely on estimates as these can present you with less accurate quotes.
All of this information can be retrieved from a recent energy bill – on paper or displayed online via your account on your energy provider’s website.