Notts County Council set to save us £200 per household on energy bills
By sarahlnewall | Wednesday, January 09, 2013, 15:39
HOUSEHOLDERS fed up with spiralling gas and electricity prices and confused by numerous differering tariffs could be given a simple way to save money on their energy bills.
Nottinghamshire County Council is set to launch a collective energy switching scheme which will negotiate cheaper energy bills on behalf of all of its members, subject to Committee approval next week.
By joining the scheme, it's estimated that householders could save up to £200 a year on their bills as energy suppliers are more inclined to offer bigger discounts to a large group of people, rather than to single households acting alone when looking for the best deal.
The Council's Policy Committee will consider launching the collective energy switching scheme at its meeting on Wednesday 16 January.
If the scheme is given the go ahead, any household anywhere in the country would be eligible to join, although it is likely that the vast majority of members would come from Nottinghamshire where it will be promoted by the County Council.
The County Council will particularly target older and vulnerable people to be part of the scheme as statistically they are the group least likely to switch suppliers and therefore most likely to be currently paying the highest rates for their gas and electricity.
Support would be provided to make the scheme accessible to everyone and people wouldn't need to have internet access to sign-up.
Councillor Reg Adair, Chairman of the Finance and Property Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, "After the mortgage or rent, energy bills are now the second largest monthly outgoing for many households so it is really important that everyone is getting the best possible deal. Even if only 1,000 residents switched, with predicted average savings of £200 per household that's £200,000 that remains in Nottinghamshire and out of the clutches of the energy providers.
"As we've seen with other similar schemes elsewhere in the country, by joining forces and paying for their gas and electricity as a collective residents can get much cheaper prices. Teaming up means that householders are likely to pay even less than the lowest tariffs currently available to individual households.
"It's of particular concern to us that the people who are least likely to shop around for the best energy deals tend to be older people, who are often the worst off financially and in the most need of a warm home. By simplifying the process and negotiating a good price on their behalf, we hope more older people will get involved.
"Alongside getting cheaper energy prices, we will also look to work more closely with partner organisations, such as district councils, to provide a more holistic home energy service to the people of Nottinghamshire, including measures to keep vulnerable people warm and provide energy efficiency advice and measures such as low cost cavity wall and loft insulation."
If the scheme is approved, the County Council would appoint a switching partner to manage the sign up of householders and negotiate the best deal with energy firms on behalf of residents. Nottinghamshire County Council may join forces with Derbyshire County Council to create a bigger pool of households, increasing the chances of achieving larger savings on bills for residents.
Consumer group, Which? launched the first major UK collective energy switch in June last year, with an average saving of £223 per customer being achieved for the 37,000 people who went ahead with the switch after registering.
Since then, the Government has written to all local authorities to encourage them to launch their own schemes.
It is proposed that the County Council sets aside £50,000 from savings in an existing energy efficiency scheme budget to set up and run the scheme.