PEOPLE on the Isle of Wight could slash their energy bills by hundreds of pounds a year thanks to a new scheme
Community Action Isle of Wight is leading the Big Wight Switch to help households save money on energy bills, by negotiating cheaper energy tariffs on their behalf.
The project comes in the week new figures reveal 18 per cent of households on the Island have trouble paying to heat their homes — the highest figure in the south east.
Nearly one fifth or 12,000 households are in 'fuel poverty’, spending more than ten per cent of income on fuel bills.
It is hoped that, by speaking as a single, more powerful unit, thousands of Islanders may be able to reduce gas and electricity bills.
Similar collectives in other parts of the country have seen average annual savings of £202 per household, with some homes slashing as much as £2,253 from their bills.
Islanders are being encouraged to register their interest in Big Wight Switch before March 22, when the charity will approach the energy companies to broker similar savings.
Philippa Daley, rural services officer at Community Action Isle of Wight (previously the Isle of Wight Rural Community Council), said registering was free with no obligation to switch providers.
She said: "The more potential customers we can offer to energy companies, the more power we have to negotiate.
"Whether paying by direct debit, prepayment or on receipt of your bill, The Big Wight Switch aims to benefit everyone but it is said those who have never switched energy suppliers before may have the most to gain."
Community Action Isle of Wight will work with price comparison company, energyhelpline, to broker the deal.
The scheme is supported by the Isle of Wight Council, which helped to secure more than £440,000 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to fund energy projects to reduce fuel poverty, boost energy efficiency and encourage collective switching and group purchasing.
Around £90,000 of the DECC cash has been earmarked for the project, which is supported by organisations including The Footprint Trust and Ecoisland.
Council leader Cllr David Pugh said: "This scheme has the potential to benefit everyone whatever their circumstances — from families on low incomes to those who simply haven’t had the time to switch provider."
Residents can find out more and register at www.bigwightswitch.co.uk or by calling 01983 539371.