People living in France could save up to €150 per year on energy bills by forming an alliance with other households to drive prices down, consumer organisation UFC-Que Choisir has said.
This could mean making up to 10% saving per year on average.
More than 120,000 households have already made savings using a group purchase method, the organisation said.
Households that use gas pay on average €1,200 per year while those who use electricity pay on average €1,500. Energy prices in France have been going up each year since 2007, when the monopoly held by EDF was opened to competition - contrary to what had been expected.
Regulated gas prices are set to end in 2023.
UFC-Que Choisir says that a solution to rising prices is to make group purchases, which would enable consumers to find better tariffs, by encouraging greater competition and sharing costs.
To do this, households can sign up to the website choisirensemble.fr by September 20. Then suppliers are invited to offer their best price. Participants are free to accept or refuse the eventual final quote, and change suppliers or not.
UFC-Choisir has said that already, 120,000 people have saved significantly on their energy bills - up to €154 per year - by using such a system. In Dordogne, for example, the organisation has 1,550 participants.
Arnaud Lajugie, president of UFC-Que Choisir in Dordogne, told France 3: “We noticed, basically, that the cost will always increase. The same for gas...so that’s where we noticed that there is some abuse [happening by energy suppliers].
“The more consumers there are, the more prices drop. So the solution is to form a federation, and effectively take part in a ‘reverse’ auction.”
Other group purchasing sites are also available, with consumers advised to check the advice of the national energy mediator, le Médiateur National de l'Énergie, on group energy packages before signing up.
- Checking that a reputable association or organisation is running the operation
- Checking that your details will not be reused by the organisation
- Making sure you check the small print and general conditions of the group purchase before buying