Community Energy Plus News

Charity offers solution to £46 million Cornish energy bill rip-off

Cornish households could be paying almost £46 million[1] a year more on their energy bills than they need to because they are not shopping around for cheaper energy tariffs.

Last January Community Energy Plus launched a collective switching initiative to use group buying power to secure exclusive cheap energy tariffs with suppliers. It offers three collective energy switches a year as well as a year round price comparison and switching service. Over 1,000 households have saved an average of £247 on their energy bills and as a result Community Energy Switch has kept more than a quarter of a million pounds in the pockets of its deal savvy tariff switchers.

National figures show that around 70%[2] of customers are currently on ‘default’ standard variable tariffs despite cheaper fixed-rate deals being readily available. The Truro based charity Community Energy Plus says that this means within Cornwall, 186,000 households could be pushing up the profits of energy suppliers by paying more for their energy bills than they would from switching to more competitive tariffs with Community Energy Switch.

Dr Tim Jones, Chief Executive of Community Energy Plus, said: “It has been extremely frustrating to see regular announcements of energy suppliers making huge profits while we’re working with so many families who are struggling with their energy bills and can’t afford to heat their homes. People lead busy lives and many put off switching energy tariffs because they think that it is complicated or not worth the hassle but it’s actually a simple process which can make a big difference to your household finances.

Community Energy Switch’s winter collective energy switch is open now for registrations and householders have until 14th February to register their interest in switching at www.communityenergyswitch.org.uk or by calling Freephone 0800 804 7247.

The winning exclusive tariffs will be available after 14th February, but only to those who have registered their interest before this date. Householders will be able to see how much they could save and how it compares to other tariffs on the market so that they have peace of mind that they’re getting a good deal.

Vicky Cloete from Truro took part in Community Energy Switch’s first collective last year and saved £258. She said: “I feel a bit stupid that I hadn’t switched sooner. Previous online comparison sites never showed much of a saving so I didn’t think it was worth the hassle, however with the collective my direct debit was instantly reduced, and after just 6 weeks my first meter reading put me £25 in credit so I’m very grateful to Community Energy Switch for getting a good deal for me.”

Tim Jones continued: “Cornwall’s collective energy switch links into the group buying power of other collectives taking place across the country at the same time but we need as many people as possible to register their interest to boost our buying power so that we can once again secure some excellent cheap energy deals.”

Community Energy Switch is open to everyone – whether they live in or outside Cornwall. This includes people who own their own homes, rent from a private landlord or social housing provider, as well as if they pay their energy bills by direct debit, cheque, cash or a pre-payment meter.

Community Energy Switch is being endorsed and promoted by Cornwall Council, NHS Kernow, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and the Winter Wellbeing Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

[1] Calculation based on Community Energy Switch’s current average switch saving of £246.67, multiplied by 70% of homes in Cornwall which are thought to be on a standard variable tariff (265,570 homes in Cornwall – 70% = 185,889)
[2] Competition and Markets Authority – Energy market investigation Provisional findings report (July 2015) – pg.20