It’s been a worrying few weeks for those of us who balance the household budgets, with news of yet more price hikes from energy suppliers and dire warnings of what it will mean for our bills as we come into the high energy use months of winter.
But even though you may face higher utilities bills in the coming months, there are ways to ensure the increases are not as drastic as you have read about in recent weeks.
I spoke to Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications with comparison site bonkers.ie, who says consumers can take action now to reduce bills over the coming months.
“There are 14 energy suppliers in the Irish market right now and they all offer deep discounts, sometimes of up to 40%, to new customers for one year to entice people to switch to them,” he explains. “So even though energy prices are rising across the board, customers can still pay less than they otherwise would have by switching.
“At the moment, someone who’s currently paying standard rates and who switches could save over €500 a year on average.
“And given how expensive gas and electricity will be this winter, those savings will be badly needed.” But will we not be paying more regardless?
“Unfortunately, most people will pay more for their energy this winter compared to last year because prices have gone up so much,” Mr Cassidy acknowledges. “However, switching supplier can help people offset most of the price increases.
“If you stick with the same supplier this winter you’ll likely be on their most expensive tariff, or if you’re lucky, one that offers a 5% or 10% discount.
“If you switch, you could get a discount of up to 40% with someone else.
“It pays to switch and I can’t emphasise that enough.” Switching is one of those recommendations that financial advisers, and Ireland’s energy regulator the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), constantly make but which consumers can still be hesitant to do. There is a fear of endless paperwork or calls, or concerns about a break in supply.
But the CRU is adamant that switching energy supplier is free, easy to do and most importantly can save you money. The CRU understands that it can be difficult to work out what the best tariff available is so it recommends a number of accredited price comparison websites that you can trust to provide clear, independent and accurate information. The three sites it recommends are Mr Cassidy’s site bonkers.ie, www.switcher.ie, and www.powertoswitch.ie.
The regulator carry out on-going reviews and audits of these website and says ‘this means you can be confident that you are always getting clear, independent and accurate information’.
Mr Casidy emphasises the ease and speed of the switching process.
“It’s super quick and easy and it can all be done online on bonkers.ie in the space of a few minutes,” he says. “You don’t even need to let your existing supplier know that you’re leaving. Switching energy supplier is by far the easiest household bill to switch. And it can save you big money.
“To switch supplier you just need to have your MPRN for electricity and your GPRN for gas. Both these unique numbers help identify your home on the grid and will be on a recent bill.
“You also need to have a recent meter reading. If you need a key to open your box, we can send one out to you.
“It helps if you can give us a rough estimate of how much energy you use (either in euro or kWh). Then just head to our site, fill in the details, and we’ll show you all the deals available as well as what the estimated savings are.
“The switch usually then gets processed by your new supplier within three to five working days. When complete, your new supplier will write out to you, usually now by email, with details on your new account number etc. While your old supplier will send you out a final closing bill.
“You can sign up to single fuel deals, or dual fuel deals if you also have gas.”
Customers of SSE Airtricity can avail of a new offer to protect their homes with Phonewatch
The new partnership gives customers a full security system installed for just €149, reduced from the standard price of €299.
The PhoneWatch home safety system includes: motion sensors with built-in cameras, a smoke alarm featuring always-on response 24/7, a panic alarm for instant emergency services dispatch, contact sensors for doors to detect when they are opened, a smartphone app enabling you to arm/disarm your system remotely and to check the status of your system, a PhoneWatch bellbox fixed to an external wall of the home and personalised key tags for ease of use.
All alarm components are wireless, so installation is quick easy and hassle free. There is no need for a landline.