We all need gas and electricity to run our homes and to keep ourselves warm, yet some of us in Halton are paying more than others for the exact same product. The price of energy varies by region, and Merseyside, along with North Wales, have the highest average cost in the country.

The average default bill in our region is £1,197. As we also have one of the lowest average incomes in the country, people in Merseyside and North Wales are paying a whopping 7.7% of their average income on energy – the highest in Britain.

The reason given for the variation in price is the varying cost in transporting energy from the power station or gas rigs, to the home. So what can we do about it?

The main thing you can do is check your gas and electricity tariff to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to.

According to Ofgem, around 66% of households are on standard variable tariffs, which are typically more expensive than fixed deals. If you don’t switch regularly, you are likely to be moved on to your supplier’s standard tariff, and will therefore be paying more than you need to.

Merseyside’s local authorities are working with a local charity called Energy Projects Plus to help people switch to a cheaper tariff.

The Merseyside Collective Switch uses the collective buying power of those who register to take part, to negotiate exclusive tariffs from energy suppliers. The tariffs negotiated in previous rounds have often been the cheapest on the market and exclusive to the Collective Switch.

Lynne Melarangi from Runcorn switched through the Merseyside Collective Switch in November. She said, “The last time we switched was around 15 years ago, so we were probably overpaying. I saw the Collective Switch advertised in the local paper. It was really easy to switch and we should be saving around £425 a year on our energy bills”.

To date, the scheme has helped local people save in excess of £1million on their energy bills through switching to a cheaper energy tariff.

Previous rounds of the switch have attracted exclusive offers from both the large and smaller suppliers, including British Gas, E.on, EDF Energy and Ovo, and have included offers for prepayment meter (or pay as you go) customers as well as direct debit and pay on receipt of bill.

In addition to the Collective Switch offer, participants are welcome to switch to any tariff on the market to find the deal that’s right for them, with tariffs shown against each other for comparison. The service is free, and there’s no obligation to switch if you decide not to.

Registration is now open for the current round. By registering, you will add to the buying power of the group and you will have access to the exclusive offers.

Halton Borough Council Leader, Cllr Rob Polhill, said: “The Merseyside Collective Switch is a great scheme that is putting money back into the pockets of local people. If you’re not sure if you’re on your supplier’s best tariff, now is the time to check. I hope many more people join this round and see how much they can save on their energy bills.”

Registration closes at midnight on Monday 13 February.

To join the Collective Switch visit www.LCRenergyswitch.co.uk or call the local Save Energy Advice Line on freephone 0800 043 0151, where residents can also get free and impartial help and advice about saving energy at home.