Making Cents: May be time to switch your energy supplier

Making Cents: May be time to switch your energy supplier

It is hard to know where to start offering financial advice at a time when our economic future is so uncertain. 

Tens of thousands of Irish people have already lost their jobs and many more know their livelihoods are in danger. 

We can’t control the spread of Covid-19 and it is easy to slip into a mindset of helplessness, with no power to influence what the future will bring.

However, while we cannot control external forces, we can take ownership of our own actions and our own outgoings. 

And with us all likely to have extra time on our hands in the coming weeks and months, now is an excellent time to do all those jobs we have been meaning to get around to for months (or even years!) 

Whether the job is painting the spare bedroom or changing your energy supplier, getting things done will help pass the time and give us a much-needed mental boost.

In the coming weeks, I hope to speak to financial experts on what tasks they suggest people can complete from home during this period of self-distancing. 

However, for this column, I am going to look at a very simple one, mentioned above: switching your energy supplier.

According to one consumer switching adviser, Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at comparison and switching website bonkers.ie, now is an excellent time for energy customers to change supplier, as they will benefit from an ongoing price war.

Earlier this month, Bord Gáis Energy become the third energy supplier to cut prices in as many weeks. 

The supplier will decrease its residential electricity prices by 4.5% and its gas prices by 6.5% from May 1. 

It had previously decreased its gas prices by 4% and increased its electricity prices 2.5% in October.

The price decrease will save the average electricity customer around €37 a year while the average gas customer will save around €43 on their annual bill. 

However, those in poorly insulated homes or properties with more than three bedrooms are likely to save more.

The move follows recent price reductions by Electric Ireland and PrePayPower which both cut their electricity prices by 2.5% and gas prices by 11.5% in recent weeks.

The move comes on the back of falling energy prices on international wholesale markets, where prices have been falling steadily for around 15 months and are down around 50% yearly.

“For the past 15 months or so we’ve seen energy prices falling on wholesale markets so these decreases are long overdue,” Mr Cassidy said. 

“However from mid-2018 until early 2019 we saw cumulative price increases of around 20% to 30% from all the major suppliers, so more decreases can be expected by consumers.”

Making Cents: May be time to switch your energy supplier

However, even if your supplier is among those dropping prices, you are likely to still benefit from a switch.

“Far bigger discounts and savings are available to those who switch suppliers,” Mr Cassidy said. 

“Someone who switches energy supplier today could get discounts of up to 30% on their gas and electricity, saving the average customer over €380 a year. 

"It’s super quick and easy to switch and can all be done online in the space of a few minutes.”

The bonkers.ie website is quick and easy to use, all you need is a recent bill and answer some simple questions on whether you are an urban or rural customer, have a NightSaver meter and have a natural gas supply to your property. 

The site will then show you the best deals available and guide you through the switching process.

While a switch will save you money, this is also a good time to remember that there are ways we can reduce our energy costs and they will add up in the coming weeks as we all spend much more time than usual at home.

“There are lots of little things we can do around the home to use less energy and save, such as installing energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, not overfilling the kettle when we boil it, and choosing a 30C wash where possible,” Mr Cassidy said. 

“They might seem like small things but they can really add up to big savings.”

Deal of the week

If you are among the thousands looking for low-cost ways to pass the time at home, it is worth taking a look at what Alison.com has to offer.

This Irish-based online education provider has more than 1,000 high-quality courses available across nine distinct categories, all absolutely free to complete.

There are courses available in everything from languages to HR, food safety to GDPR.

All courses are self-paced and have been designed by subject matter experts.

Learners can choose from Certificate courses (average time: 2-3 hours), Diploma courses (average time: 8-10 hours) or Learning Paths (average time: 18-20 hours).

For younger people, there are numerous courses designed with Junior and Leaving Certificate in mind, including a number of very useful short courses tackling specific maths topics.

There are also courses designed for primary and third level learners.

Check out their full range of courses at Alison.com.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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