IT’S an odd fact of consumer life that most of us, when buying food, clothes or certainly a car, will shop around but when it comes to our energy supplier many of us stick with the devil we know.

We’ll even block our ears to research repeatedly suggesting we could save hundreds of pounds a year. Several reasons may be adduced for this. There’s the supposed hassle, for instance. But it can take 10 minutes to change energy supplier. True, you may want to do some research first, and might find yourself increasingly bewildered by conflicting claims on discussion forums. But, usually, it doesn’t take long to find a suitable supplier well attested by consensus.

Indeed, the same websites facilitating your switch will often do the research for you, including into aspects such as environmental performance or exit fees.

People reluctant to switch might worry about a smaller supplier going out of business, or might just mistrust an unfamiliar brand. Granted, all change in life involves some risk. But it’s all relative. There are people who would dive under traffic to pick up £400 lying in the road but wouldn’t risk switching energy supplier.

In excess of that sum might be saved annually in some parts of Scotland, according to new research, with the average across the country being £360.

That the research comes from one of the smaller suppliers challenging the so-called Big Six no doubt suggests a vested interest in such results. But that needn’t invalidate the figures, which are presented as an analysis of reality. Bulb’s figures may pertain to its own offers but are broadly in line with previous research by Ofgem which, across the board, found savings of around £300 available.

Since the Government regulator has no reason to be other than truthful with the economies, why don’t more people switch energy supplier? Only four in ten have ever done so, usually because of misconceptions about difficulty, according to price comparison service uSwitch, which points out the unlikelihood of supply disruption: it’s the same energy coming down the same pipes. Perhaps there’s even loyalty, usually an admirable trait, but possibly foolhardy when applied to concerns that know you only as a number on a direct debit form.

Besides, switching or the threat of same is good for the health of such concerns: it keeps them competitive; stops them getting flabby and complacent and taking you for granted.

While switching may not be right for all the people all of the time, there are times when consumers will be doing themselves a big favour by it. Not only that but they’ll be doing the industry a favour – and, through that, doing us all a favour.