UK energy regulator Ofgem has expedited the energy switching process making it quicker for consumers to move between utility companies to allow them to take advantage of smart meter benefits.

From the end of 2014, Ofgem has reduced the amount of time its takes to switch energy supplier – from five weeks including a statutory 14-day cooling off period – to two and half weeks, meaning the switching time is just three days.

Ofgem has also published this week new proposals to make the switching process more reliable and put next day switching in place by the end of 2018, where the cooling off period would remain but would take place after the switch.

Dermot Nolan, CEO at Ofgem, said: “Consumers can change their bank in seven days, their mobile phone in just a couple, but have to wait significantly longer to switch their energy supplier.

“We know that consumers want a reliable and efficient switching process, and that concerns about it going wrong can put them off shopping around for a better deal.

He added: “So now that we have taken steps to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching.”

Faster switching times will be made possible by replacing IT systems that were originally developed in the 1990s.

The changes represent a significant modernisation of infrastructure which will help consumers take full advantage of the benefits of smart meters, said Ofgem.

From August 2014, new Ofgem rules come into force meaning suppliers could face investigation and fines if they cannot meet the timescales.

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