Households join forces to slash their energy bills
Thousands of householders are in line for discounts on their electricity bills after they joined a campaign that has secured a deal with a state-owned energy company.
The One Big Switch campaign got 45,000 people to band together.
Now Bord Gais is to offer the members of the group a discount on their electricity bills and cashback after a year.
Consumers can still join One Big Switch until April 17, at which point the number of households is expected to exceed 50,000.
Members who signed up will get a 10pc discount in year one on their electricity from Bord Gais, and €80 cash back after 12 months.
One Big Switch claimed a family in a three-bed home in an urban area would save more than €200 in a year on the deal.
The discount will be 5pc in year two.
Energy expert Simon Moynihan, of the independent price comparison site Bonkers.ie, said the new deal would be the cheapest in the market once the cash-back offered is claimed by householders.
He said an average household on the One Big Switch plan would end up paying €1,094 a year.
If the customer stays for a year and receives the €80 incentive, the annual cost will be €1,014.
This compares with other discounted offers in the market. The next best is €1,058 from Electric Ireland (ESB), and then €1,075 from new entrant Energia.
SSE Airtricity's best deal is €1,102 a year for electricity for average users.
To avail of the Bord Gais offer through One Big Switch, householders must first register with onebigswitch.ie, and sign up for a direct debit.
They must also accept a monthly "level pay" arrangement, which means that a monthly amount to cover the cost of electricity is taken from their bank account.
Mr Moynihan said this has a "tolerance of up to 20pc" – which means that an amount more than is normally spent on electricity will be taken out each month to allow for unusually high useage in any particular month.
The Bonkers.ie expert said the monthly payment may be as much as €109 – an annual outlay of €1,313.
Co-founder of One Big Switch Oliver Tattan said: "This campaign was always an experiment in people power.
"That experiment worked, and group-discounted electricity is finally available in Ireland for the first time.
"That is a big win for consumers who joined the campaign, but hopefully it will also help drive competition across the whole energy market in Ireland.
"The rising cost of electricity in Ireland is hurting many families, hopefully this discount will bring some relief."
Mr Tattan would not reveal what commission it was getting from Bord Gais for every customer who takes up the offer.
One Big Switch is a joint venture with a similar Australian company and also offers discount rates for energy, health insurance and even mortgages.