The Energy Advice Line, the UK's leading price comparison, switching and advice service for energy users, has welcomed figures showing consumers are drifting away from the Big Six suppliers.
The research shows that large suppliers now hold 92% of the market, down from 99.8% five years ago, which means that independents have increased their market share from less than 1% to 7.6% over the same period.
"It's fantastic to see that competition in the UK is starting to work and consumers are seeing some of the benefits, " said Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line.
"Increased competition will place downward pressure on energy prices and hopefully lead to lower energy bills.
"I urge all consumers who have not switched supplier recently to shop around and consider moving to one of these smaller companies.
"They might not be right for every household or business, but in our experience many energy users will save money by doing so."
The figures, compiled by independent research group Cornwall Energy, show that UK customers now hold 3.8 million accounts with smaller suppliers, and almost 50 million with the Big Six.
According to the figures, the largest independent, First Utility, has grown ten-fold in just three years, and now has more than 550,000 customers.
Mr Morgan said that smaller suppliers had been pro-active in courting customers from the larger firms and often offered better service and cheaper deals to win new business.
But he warned the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is investigating the Big Six suppliers, still needed to shake up the market to deliver further benefits to consumers.
"The trend is promising but there's no room for complacency, " Mr Morgan said.
"There are significantly more suppliers than there were five years ago but there's more to be done to make the market truly competitive and the Big Six still have a stranglehold.
"It is therefore still crucial for households and business energy users to shop around regularly, compare prices and switch accordingly. It's the only way in this market to avoid paying more than necessary for your energy."
The Energy Advice Line is one of the UK's leading price comparison and switching services for business and domestic energy customers. It is also an advocate for energy market reform and has campaigned for a better deal for energy users, including calling for a ban on cold calling and changes to regulations to make it easier for all consumers to switch suppliers.
The service is completely independent and free. Consumers can quickly and simply search the market for the best available energy deals from an extensive panel of small and large energy suppliers. The service also offers a free advice service for business energy customers throughout the to of their energy contracts.