Charlie Weston: Which power provider should you go with?
CONSUMERS are set to benefit from greater competition in the electricity market in the new year. So which company should you pick?
Energia, which already offers electricity to businesses, is set to undercut existing players with a new offering for households in the coming weeks.
The firm has yet to outline its pricing structure but it is expected to be about €90 cheaper a year than the standard electricity from the ESB, which now brands itself as Electric Ireland.
The arrival of Energia will bring to four the number of electricity companies vying for consumer business in this market.
Energia is owned by the Northern Ireland-based Viridian group and operates two power stations near Dublin.
Consumer advocates hope the new entrant into the retail market will force prices down, as we have some of the highest prices for energy in Europe.
Currently, Bord Gais Energy's Level Pay offer is the cheapest for electricity.
With Level Pay you can pay the same amount every month for your energy. The company works out your annual bill, and then divides this into 12 monthly bills.
This means you build up credits during the summer and use these up during energy-intensive winter months.
You have to sign up for direct debit payments and electronic billing as part of the deal.
Simon Moynihan of price comparison site Bonkers.ie said the Bord Gais Level Pay offer was the cheapest and calculates that it costs an average family €1,069 a year.
But he warns that the company is due to put up its prices by around 2pc in February.
The best value for domestic gas is Flogas, which costs an average family €860 a year.
For those who bundle both gas and electricity together, Electric Ireland offers the cheapest deal at €2,000 a year, Mr Moynihan said.
"We are in the top five for electricity prices," Mr Moynihan added.
This meant it was important for consumers to keep switching energy provider to ensure they got the best value.
Those who have never switched are paying around €125 a year more for electricity than they need to be.