Fri, 13 Apr 2012
Inside this week former BBC journalist James Fox looks at coalitions
Cutting energy bills – saving the planet
Nick Clegg announced this week that agreements have been secured with the big six energy companies that could cut energy bills for millions of people.
The commitments will mean that EDF, E.On, British Gas, Southern, Scottish Power and Npower - who supply 99 per cent of British homes with energy - will now write to customers every year to specifically tell them what the best tariff is for them and how to get it. Many people are currently paying far more than they have to.
Some vulnerable customers – those assisted by the Warm Home Discount scheme - will be contacted twice a year. Customers will also be offered the best tariff if their contract comes to an end and if they contact their supplier at any time to ask.
There are more than 120 different tariffs. Currently, seven out of 10 people aren’t on the best tariff for them. The average customer tends to stay on theirs for years, despite the amount of energy they use varying over time. In 2010, 75 per cent of people did not change their tariff.
The government wants people to save money on their bills whilst also becoming more switched on to the idea of saving energy through green measures to make further savings and protecting the environment.
At a speech at ‘Canary Wharf’s greenest building’, the KPMG headquarters, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “We need to get bills as low as possible. I know that many families are struggling with rising energy bills. We can’t control volatile world energy prices. But we can still help people get their bills down. As of this Autumn, your supplier will have to contact you with the best tariff for your needs. And if you call them, they’ll have to offer you the best deal too.
“As we learn to live within our economic means we can learn to live within our environmental means too. To do that, we have to stop treating the environment like an add on; an afterthought. We must show that, in so many ways, consumer interests, business interests and green interests are the same,” stressed Nick. “We have to give people the practical help to make more sustainable choices. We must do everything we can to ensure that the benefits and opportunities created by going green are clear.”(photo: Crown copyright)
“We’re also working with energy companies to put special barcodes on energy bills. You’ll be able to scan them with your smartphone to get quotes and switch tariff or supplier in a matter of minutes.
“Plus we’re working with consumer groups to make it easier for people to club together and switch supplier. Consumers will be able to use their collective purchasing power to bring down bills.
“We want to see consumers saving money and engage with the energy they use,” explained Nick. “Precisely the kind of thrift that is good for pockets as well as the planet.”