A survey of over 9,000 households found just 6% are receiving electricity discounts of more than 10%, even though reductions of up to 30% are widely available.
The finding emerged in the wake of three of Ireland’s biggest electricity and gas retailers announcing upcoming price rises.
The study, published yesterday, is part of the Big Cost of Living Switch campaign to unlock group-discounted energy and insurance offers.
It found many of the 9,000-plus households who joined the campaign are only receiving minimal discounts when discounts more than 20%, and even 30% are widely available.
Also, two out of three are not receiving any discounts or even not know if they are. Six out of 10 did not feel confident enough to be able to compare electricity plans easily. Only 10% had used a comparison site.
At the end of last month, Bord Gáis Energy and Airtricity announced energy price increases that could see consumers worse off by as much as €83 over the next 12 months. The increases are in addition to an increased compulsory public service obligation levy, adding about €25 to every bill.
One Big Switch director of campaigns, David Liston said deregulated utility markets were great for consumers, but only when they actively engaged in them.
“The fact that two in three Irish households aren’t receiving a discount — or aren’t even sure they are — is quite disappointing, especially considering there are big discounts widely available,” he said.
There were many options available for people to compare prices easily and there were campaigns like the Big Cost of Living Switch.
“We plan to unlock big discounts using people power that would be otherwise unavailable to the individual. I’d encourage anyone to join us at OneBigSwitch.ie today,” he said.
Policy and council advisory with the Consumer Association of Ireland, Dermott Jewell, said he was not surprised by the survey and was glad the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, formerly the Commission for Energy Regulation, was encouraging consumers to shop around for the best deal. He pointed out that energy suppliers were obliged to advise customers when their contract is up, even if they have no plans to move to a new supplier.
There are two independent price comparison websites accredited by CRU —switcher.ie and bonkers.ie where consumers can look at offers from other suppliers.
The websites can switch suppliers for consumers for free. Consumers can choose the best offer that suits their needs; confirm it with the new supplier who will inform their current supplier.
“We recommend that consumers go to the regulator’s accredited websites and see who is offering the best deal,” said Mr Jewell.
“Consumers can save around €300 to €400 a year just by switching, but too few consumers are making the move.
“There is nothing to be lost by trying the websites out. You don’t have to switch if you don’t want to save money but that would be a bit foolish I would argue.”
Mr Jewell said he could understand that some people were reluctant online to look for the best deal but he believed attitudes were changing. “I know a phenomenal number of so-called elderly people who are very comfortable and very efficient online.”
One Big Switch, meanwhile, is a consumer network with 100,000 members. Joining is both cost-free and obligation-free.
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