MILLIONS of people will be overpaying for their energy while using more of it than ever this winter, it is claimed.

More than half of domestic users remain on the energy companies’ standard tariffs rather than switching to cheaper alternatives.

With millions working from home or staying indoors more because of the pandemic, Bournemouth-based start-up Switchboo says the consequences will be especially costly.

Switchboo founder and director Luke Chapman said more than half of UK consumers would see their bills rise if they did not act.

“According to Ofgem energy market reports, 53 per cent of domestic consumers are on expensive standard default tariffs and can save £260 on average by switching to a cheaper tariff,” he said.

“Due to coronavirus, default energy tariffs are on the rise and over half of the UK are at risk and will see their bills rise if they don’t act now.”

Ofgem, the industry regulator, is considering raising the limit on how much suppliers can charge customers on standard variable tariffs. Many customers are expected to fall behind with their bills as the recession bites, while lifting the cap would help suppliers to recoup losses by charging more to those who can pay.

Mr Chapman founded Switchboo as a way of automating the switching process, so customers do not have to shop around again when their initial energy deal comes to an end. Instead, Switchboo automatically changes supplier if the customer will save more than £50.

“If you go onto a price comparison website, you’ll find a good deal, switch over and get it all sorted, but when that deal ends you’ve got to deal with it all over again,” he said.

“Fifty-three per cent are not doing it again because they’re forgetting to do it. We built a model that automatically switches customers to a cheaper deal when their energy deal ends.”

Switchboo’s developers used the national database of suppliers’ rates and built their own algorithm.

“My gran was with British Gas for 45 years and she didn’t know she needed to switch. She was on the standard plan for her energy for 45 years and overpaying by £600 a year. She was just disgusted by it,” said Mr Chapman.