Electricity and gas costs up €200 in past year

Electricity and gas customers have reported large increases in their energy bills in 2013 with average annual household expenditure on both utilities costing almost €200 more than last year.

Electricity and gas costs up  €200 in past year

A survey carried out on behalf of the Commission of Energy Regulation demonstrates the impact of price-increases by electricity and gas suppliers over the past year.

The survey shows the average monthly electricity bill in winter has increased from €87 in 2012 to €96 this year. The average electricity bill in summer has also gone up by €4 to €63 per month. It means the average annual household electricity bill is now €954 compared with €876 last year — an increase of €78, or 8.9%.

The average monthly gas bill also jumped by €13 to €126 in winter and by €7 in summer to €59 per month.

As a result, the average household gas bill in 2013 is estimated to be €1,110 compared with €990 last year — an annual rise of €120, or 12.1%.

The survey of more than 1,000 consumers shows overall satisfaction with electricity suppliers is 83% — the lowest level in several years, and a 5% reduction on 2011 satisfaction rates.

Airtricity had the lowest satisfaction rate at 77%, with Electric Ireland the highest at 85%.

The overall satisfaction rate with gas suppliers was marginally higher at 85% ranging from 82% with Electric Ireland to 87% for Bord Gáis.

Just 17% of people surveyed were able to provide an estimate of the unit cost of electricity and only 24% could indicate the cost of their standing charge.

Meanwhile, 1.2% of electricity customers said they had been disconnected last year. In addition, 1% of gas customers said they were in arrears while another 2% said they have been in arrears.

The survey also highlighted a poor level of awareness of deregulation in the electricity market, with only 26% correctly knowing that all electricity suppliers are allowed to set their own prices. However, only 42% believed deregulation had led to lower electricity prices.

Just 38% of gas customers correctly identified that the gas market is not deregulated as Bord Gáis prices must be approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation.

Switching rates by utility customer have also decreased, with just 12% of electricity customers changing supplier last year — down four percentage points from 2012 and by 17 percentage points since 2011.

In the gas market, 16% of those surveyed changed supplier in 2012.

Only 60% of consumers say their gas and electricity bill is “easy to understand”.

About 4% of gas and electricity customers were offered pre-payment meters, but only 1% took up the offer.

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