Have you signed up to The Big Switch? As it’s a UK first, we’ve invited our sister organisation – Consumentenbond from the Netherlands – to come and explain how it worked for them.
Nowadays it’s easy to send meter readings to my energy supplier – and even to switch companies – I can do it via the internet which saves a lot of paperwork.
I keep telling consumers it’s really simple, but just as it leaks at the plumber’s house, this advisor often forgets to do what he advises…
My energy bill went up by €200
In the Netherlands you pay the same monthly amount for your energy throughout the year. This prevents low bills in summertime and – more importantly – high bills in wintertime.
At the end of the year the supplier sends the costs statement and bill for the whole year, based on your stated fuel consumption. This could mean that money is returned or that an additional amount has to be paid. We always hope it’s the former, but with current energy prices we usually have to pay a surplus.
Despite the energy saving measures, such as additional insulation, we installed in our home last year, I ended up paying an extra €200. And to my not so pleasant surprise I saw my monthly payment go up by €25!
How is this possible? The answer should be in my annual statement, but unfortunately this appears to be a jumble of information. After some detective work, I gave up and decided to just pay the €200 – but I still felt robbed. Perhaps I’d be better off with another energy supplier?
So I started my investigation: there are plenty of suppliers and websites that give all sorts of useful information. But it all seems a bit confusing. It takes a lot of time and effort to compare various suppliers with complex schedules, rates, contract types. And after a few hours studying, I still had no clue what the best offer would be for me.
The Big Switch in the Netherlands
So, could this be done more easily? The answer is yes. For people like me who don’t want to spend time comparing different energy rates, there is a convenient solution: the Energy Collective. This is our Netherlands equivalent of The Big Switch, based on the joint purchase of energy.
With our Energy Collective, you can register for free and then the auction begins. I could follow the auction online to see what companies were offering, and then I was given a personal offer after the auction, tailored to my energy consumption. If I decided to switch, the new supplier would guide this process. The Energy Collective is therefore directed at a low price and the ease of switching.
It’s my kind of switch. Easy, no hassle, transparent and therefore convenient. Let the bidding begin. If the offer is good enough, I’ll make my switch!
At Consumentenbond we’ve run this scheme twice now. In May, 23,000 people switched, making an average saving of €287. Because it was so popular we ran it again in November, getting 35,000 people an average saving of €323.
In the UK, Which?’s Big Switch has had over 200,000 people sign up, and there are still a few weeks left to go. It’s exciting to think that so many people have joined. People power worked for us – I hope it can also work for you.
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Alexy Markides, marketing manager for Consumentenbond, the Dutch Consumers Association.