14,000 sign up for scheme to save money on energy bills
DERBYSHIRE people who have signed up for an energy-switch scheme that could save them hundreds of pounds on their bills are soaring in numbers.
On March 1, the Derby Telegraph revealed nearly 3,500 had signed up to Derbyshire County Council's Big Deals scheme.
Since then, another 10,500 people have registered.
Big Deals is a bulk-buying scheme which works by bringing people together to get the best price on their gas and electricity bills.
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The county council is working with consumer watchdog Which? to negotiate with energy companies to strike the best deal for residents.
The more people who sign up, the better the deal is likely to be.
The Tory-led authority set up the scheme after learning that 60% of people have never switched their energy company, even though they could save an average of £217 a year if they did.
Council leader Andrew Lewer said that he was confident the scheme would save residents a considerable amount of money.
He said: "A huge thank-you to the thousands of local people who have put their names down for Derbyshire Big Deals.
"Big Deals is all about local people coming together to get a better deal on gas and electricity.
"The more people join, the greater our bargaining power. We are hoping that many households will save more than £200."
The deadline for people to sign up to the scheme is 6pm tomorrow.
A county council spokesman said that the scheme was open to all residents. He said: "All residents need to do is find their recent energy bill and either fill in a few simple questions online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/bigdeals or call the county council's Big Deals line on 01629 533365.
"Alternatively they can pop into a county council library, where staff can help fill in the form for them.
"Once they have signed up, there is no obligation for households to switch but, if they decide to do so, their new energy company will cancel the contract with their existing supplier for them."
Each household registering with the scheme will also be entered into a free prize draw for a chance to win free gas and electricity for a year, with three prizes up to a value of £1,500 up for grabs.
Big Deals is modelled on a successful scheme pioneered in Holland.
HOW DOES BIG DEALS WORK?
Step 1: People can register by filling in the online form by 6pm tomorrow.
Step 2: Which?, Derbyshire County Council's Big Deals partner, will then strike a deal with energy companies based on thousands of local people all switching together.
Step 3: At the end of March, the council will be in touch to let people who have signed up know how much money they could save. They then decide whether or not to switch – there is no obligation to do so.
If people do choose to change, Which? will work with their new energy company to take care of the switch and cancel the contract with their current supplier.