Dragon’s Den star Sarah Willingham has turned up the heat on energy firms after figures showed that Huddersfield residents are paying hundreds of pounds more than necessary for their gas and electricity.

Sarah, co-founder of consumer champion website Letssavemoney.com, said overspending on energy bills had become a chronic problem – with people in Huddersfield spending a total of £11.9m more than they would be doing if they switched from the “big six” suppliers.

Across Yorkshire, households are “overspending” by £335m this year, she said.

Dragons' Den star Sarah Willingham
Dragons' Den star Sarah Willingham

More than 85% of UK households are supplied by the big six suppliers – Npower, EDF, SSE, Scottish Power, E.ON and British Gas – with about 70% of customers on the most expensive tariff.

In total, British households supplied by the major energy companies are paying £4bn more for their energy needs in 2016 than they need to, according to figures compiled by First Utility from energy industry trade body Energy UK and the Office of National Statistics.

VIDEO: Advice from Ed Kamm, of First Utility

Video thumbnail, Ed Kamm, MD of First Utility
Video Loading

Sarah, who has joined forces with UK independent energy provider First Utility to alert people to the savings they can make by switching, said households in the region could save £327 a year by switching from the most expensive energy deal – the standard variable tariff (SVT) – which typically stands at £1,083 a year.

Speaking during a tour of Yorkshire to raise the issue with consumers, First Utility managing director Ed Kamm said Yorkshire was the worst region in terms of overspend and that energy companies were failing to tell their most loyal customers about the better deals they have on offer.

First Utility managing director Ed Kamm
First Utility managing director Ed Kamm

He said: “We want to help customers to realise that loyalty isn’t valued by these big firms. We’re encouraging people to take back control, stand up to their provider and switch away.”

Mr Kamm said: “You have two different markets. You have an engaged market which is about 30% of consumers who do look to switch or get a better deal from their current supplier and you have a market of 70% of consumers who are overspending in the local region by more than £300m. We don’t think energy companies have their best interest at heart.”

Sarah said: “It’s outrageous that for so many people in Huddersfield and across Yorkshire, loyalty doesn’t pay. Switching only takes a few minutes and people could save hundreds of pounds a year. Imagine what you could be spending that money on instead.”

She said recent data showing that 40% of households in Yorkshire have not switched energy supplier in the last three years was a cause for concern.

Little was being done to help people on the most expensive tariffs switch to better value fixed price plans – while in some cases the cheapest deals were reserved for new customers.