A SCHEME that could help residents save up to £150 a year on their gas and electricity bills is being launched in Sedgefield this week.

Sedgefield Development Trust, a charity that funds beneficial projects for the town, is one of the first community groups in the UK to set up a collective switching scheme.

The trust has been working alongside the Belgian not-for-profit company iChoosr to introduce the initiative, which encourages residents to switch energy providers en-masse to secure a better deal.

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Collective switching works by compiling a list of people who feel their gas and electricity bills are too high.

This list is then put out to tender, with gas and electricity companies invited to bid for the contract.

The more people who sign up; the more attractive the contract is to energy companies, which then drop their prices further to secure the custom.

Collective switching has been taken on by local authorities elsewhere in the country but this is the first times iChoosr has worked with a community group.

Roger Clubley, chairman of Sedgefield Development Trust, said: “When we initially asked people if they wanted to save money on their gas and electricity bills they were quite guarded. They are sick of being hassled by sales people or may have had a bad experience switching in the past.

“However, once they learnt more about it, their interest grew. The great thing about this is there is nothing to lose and it’s really quite simple.”

The Sedgefield Energy Switch goes live tomorrow (Tuesday, August 5) and people in Sedgefield, Fishburn and nearby villages have until Monday, October 13 to register an interest.

Energy companies will bid for the tender the next day and the winning provider will then offer each individual a contract, typically one year in duration, which they can accept or reject.

To register visit sedgefieldweb.co.uk/energyswitch.html or bring copies of your electricity and gas bills for the last 12 months to one of the following drop in sessions: Sedgefield Town Council offices, tomorrow (Tuesday, August 5), 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 7.30pm; Sedgefield Show at West Park, Saturday, August 9, from 10am; Fishburn Community Centre, Tuesday, August 12, 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 7.30pm; Mordon Village Hall, Tuesday, August 19, 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 7.30pm.

For more information, contact 07980134594.