BRITISH Gas is giving customers in Huddersfield a chance to do away with their bills.

A new internet-based service means customers need never receive a British Gas bill through the letterbox again.

The company predicts that 1m of its customers will have opted to go paperless by 2005 - paying by direct debit and checking on their bills online instead.

The new scheme will also mean the end of estimated bills.

Online customers will be able to correct any errors in their estimated bills by emailing back their current meter reading to receive a new, updated bill by email.

The online service allows customers to view past and current bills, pay bills online, update an estimated bill with a current meter reading, review past consumption and carry out an energy efficiency audit to help cut usage.

British Gas, the UK's largest domestic energy supplier, sends out more than 70m paper bills every year.

Now it is the first energy supplier to offer discounted paperless billing backed up with 24-hour customer service.

Online customers will also have access to a dedicated call centre open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The website technology will mean callers go straight through to an adviser rather than waiting in an automated queue.

The new service has been introduced after a survey showed customers are keen to deal with their utilities online.

About half of people regularly use the internet and 40% of them would consider making their energy accounts paperless.

Nick Smith, British Gas marketing director, said: "We would all love to consign our bills to the dustbin and no one likes coming home to final demands on the doormat.

"Going paperless lets our customers save money and gives them better control over the management of their accounts."

Customers can sign up now on the British Gas website and will stop receiving paper bills from autumn this year.