Come together to net cheaper energy bills
PEOPLE in Exeter are being urged to come together to back a ground-breaking collective purchasing scheme called Exeter Together. The scheme aims to give local people huge savings on their fuel bills by people coming together to drive down utility prices.
The same scheme ran in Cornwall last year and had huge success with those choosing to switch enjoying annual savings of around £135 off their utility bills.
Exeter Together has been brought to the region by Exeter City Council and it has been joined by delivery partners, community renewable energy platform, energyshare and uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, lead councillor for Sustainable Development and Transport, said: "We are really excited to have the scheme in Exeter as we will be the fourth 'lead' community in the UK to make the benefits of collective buying power a reality. This is an enormous opportunity as the more people that switch, the lower the unit price of our energy.
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"The good news is that it only takes around five minutes to sign up, either via the dedicated website or free phone number, so we are hoping it will appeal to the masses."
The straight-forward process consists of people calling or logging onto the website -help in person is also available- with their utility bill to hand, and going through the step-by-step process.
"People are under no obligation to switch and it is clearly explained whether the end user is better to stay with their current provider, or will benefit from a switching to the Exeter Together scheme," added Cllr Sutton. People will instantly receive a collectively purchased energy offer. Then, as more people sign up to the scheme, they can watch their savings increase.
"It takes about the same time to make a cup of tea as it does to complete the registration process, and when you consider participants saved, on average, over a hundred pounds through Cornwall Together, with some saving more, it could prove to be a very worthwhile time investment for many of Exeter's residents."
In Cornwall, the collective savings totalled £160,000 and it is hoped the people of Exeter will get behind this campaign and mirror Cornwall's success.
"There is only a four-week window to make the switch," said Cllr Sutton. "The scheme closes at midnight on Sunday, March 17 so people need to act fast. It is important for people to understand that as neighbours, community members and local businesses sign-up they will benefit from the same great saving on their utility bill, whether they registered on the first day or last."
Exeter City Council hopes more than 10,000 people may be able to reduce their energy bills by 26%, helping free up money increasingly swallowed by utility bills.
Exeter Together will be visiting communities on its tour around the region, and the Exeter Together team will be on-board to offer help and advice and the bus will enable residents to bring their energy bills along, ask questions and sign-up quickly for free.
Exeter Together hope to encourage communities around Exeter to go head-to-head for the chance to win a prize for their neighbours and friends.
"The community that manages to sign-up the most homes will enjoy an incredible tea party, complete with entertainment and refreshments and we are hoping this free to attend event will motivate a lot of people to find out more about Exeter Together and the savings it can offer households," said Cllr Sutton.
The campaign has attracted the support of numerous local personalities, MPs and VIPs inlcuding Ben Bradshaw MP and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Ben Bradshaw MP comments: "Exeter Together could potentially help so many local people save money off their utility bills and I would urge everyone to log on to the site or call the free phone number to see whether they could benefit from the collective buying scheme. I look forward to logging on on Monday when the campaign goes live to see how much I could save.
"It is really important people spread the word and encourage friends and family members to switch too as the more people that join, the greater the potential savings."
Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: "I believe collective purchasing and switching have huge potential to increase engagement in energy markets and ensure consumers get a fair deal. We want to make it easier for consumers to club together and use their collective purchasing power to reduce their gas and electricity bills and reduce the costs of other goods and services."
Join Exeter Together - what would you do if you saved £100 off your fuel bill?
To see if you can save money on your energy bill, join up at Exeter Together by visiting www.exetertogether.com