Energy Saving Club
If you are part of a big enough group you improve your buying and negotiating power to get a better energy deal. Energy saving clubs such as the Money Saving Expert Energy Club, the Big Switch, the Big Community Switch and the Big Energy Switch are some of the collective bargaining groups that you can join.
How does an Energy Saving Club Work?
An organisation firstly advertises the fact they want people to join in order to switch. It can be a commercial entity organising this, a charity or community group.
There will be an initial sign up period in order to gain enough members at which point you can sign up. There is not usually any obligation for you to switch but you are registering your interest or intent to switch.
It does not usually cost you anything to sign up to one of these groups.
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Once the sign up period is over and enough members have joined the club the organisers approach energy suppliers and ask to bid. It essentially means the energy company offering a discounted rate to attract the new business.
The organiser of the club will also negotiate a fee with the energy company which they will receive based on the number of customers that actually make the switch.
Do Energy Saving Clubs Work?
Consumers can often get a good deal due to the power of the group buy. However before you go ahead it is prudent to make sure you are getting the cheapest energy deal by doing a comparison as energy prices fluctuate and you might be able to get a great fixed price deal.
Ofgem's own collective switch trial in 2018 resulted in an average saving of around £300.
Overall, 22.4% of customers in the trial switched. Customers who switched to a new tariff averaged savings of around £300*. Of these, approximately half chose the collective switch tariff. Just under a quarter moved to other cheaper deals through Energyhelpline, and the remainder chose another tariff without using the price comparison service. Almost a quarter of customers who switched either to the collective switch tariff or to other deals listed by Energyhelpline were over 75 years old.
Who does Collective Energy Switching?
There doesn't seem to be a set schedule for collective switches to occur. Several organisations have managed switches in the past including:
- Ofgem Collective Switch
- MSE Big Energy Switch
- Radio Times Big Energy Switch
- Telegraph's Big Energy Switch
The Energyhelpline manages many of the collective group switches partnering with well known household entities in the UK and combines the groups to acquire greater bargaining power.
Are there any Downsides?
When you sign up for a Big Switch it can take time for the switch to actually occur as there will be a period of time to allow for large numbers of people to sign up. If you are on a bad deal rather than looking for a new cheaper deal to switch to because your fixed term tariff is coming to an end then you my be better off doing a gas and electric comparison to get a better deal.
What other ways can I Switch and Save?
For the engaged consumer using an energy comparison service is the best way to find the cheapest energy supplier. Energyhelpline who partnered with Ofgem for the collective trial is able to compare 20,000 energy tariffs from the 70 or so energy companies in the UK so you can be sure you are getting the cheapest energy deal for your circumstances.
If you don't like the idea of having to compare energy tariffs there are the auto switch energy services. These are similar to the energy comparison sites except they do the comparisons for you and offer to switch you if they find a cheaper deal.