THOSE worried about rising energy costs could be given a helping hand by Gloucestershire County Council.

With energy firms announcing further price rises for 2013, the council is giving the opportunity for residents to band together and get a better deal by launching Collective Energy Switch.

Collective Energy Switching is bulk buying – if a large number of people want to change supplier together they are likely to get a better deal than just one person shopping around and switching on their own.

The more households that register their interest in switching, the more attractive it becomes for an energy supplier to offer a competitive price and the more likely consumers are to achieve significant savings.

A company called iChoosr will carry out an online auction on January 29 with UK energy providers, offering the business of all those who have registered.

The energy suppliers will be invited to bid for your custom by offering their cheapest energy deal, something known as a “reverse auction”.

Although this is likely to be lower than their current bills, there is no guarantee of this, but there is also no obligation to accept the offer and switch supplier.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Fuel poverty can be a real concern for people, particularly during the winter months. We want to do all we can to help people afford to heat their homes properly.

“That’s why we’ve signed up to this scheme and we hope as many people as possible will take part. All you need is a recent energy bill and we will do the rest of the work and hopefully get you a better deal.”

People need to provide basic information at this stage: name, address, contact details, an indication of energy consumption and whether they wish to consider switching for both gas and electricity or electricity only.

To take part in the scheme, you must register with the council by 11.59pm on Monday, January 28. You can also sign up at Dursley library on Friday, January 25 between 2 and 5pm.