Monday 19 August 2019

Consumers urged to beat energy price hikes by switching suppliers

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Money stock
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

CONSUMERS have been urged to beat energy price hikes by switching suppliers.

New research from the energy regulator shows that householders that actively switched electricity provider over the last four years will have saved more than €1,000.

Seven suppliers announced energy price rises in the past few months, citing higher wholesale prices.

The hikes averaged 5pc for electricity and 13pc for gas, according to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

Those who do not want to move supplier should at least negotiate with their current provider to get a better deal.

A family that actively switched both its electricity and gas suppliers over the last four years will have saved €1,700.

The CRU said: “Savings made through switching suppliers or negotiating with a current supplier could help customers beat the recent prices increases.”

The regulator described switching rates by consumers last year as “robust”.

Some 14pc of electricity customers and 20pc of gas customers moved supplier during the year.

Last October saw an eight-year high in switching rates for gas, and November saw a seven-year high in switching rate for electricity, the CRU said.

Rules for energy suppliers were changed recently. These included measures that mean suppliers must notify a customer if they have been on the same energy tariff for three or more years.

Suppliers must now also give consumers 30 days’ notice before the end of a fixed-term contract.

Providers must also provide an estimated annual bill in their marketing and advertising to provide customers with a transparent metric so they can compare offers from different suppliers.

Commissioner with responsibility for the Retail Markets Aoife MacEvilly said the CRU wants to see customers paying reasonable prices.

The CRU does not regulate end-user prices, which means energy suppliers are free to set their own prices.

Last month Spanish electricity giant Iberdrola became the 11th supplier to enter the retail energy market here in a move that is set to put pressure on existing players.

According to the regulator, BEenergy offered the cheapest available standard electricity plan at the end of last year with an estimated annual bill of €965.

Energia offered the cheapest available discount plan for electricity at the end of 2018 with an estimated annual bill of €840.

For gas, Just Energy offered the cheapest available standard plan for gas with an estimated annual bill of €776.

Flogas offered the cheapest available discount plan for gas at the end of 2018 with an estimated annual bill of €699.

Last year Energia offered the cheapest discounted plan at €1,533.

Electric Ireland held the greatest domestic electricity market share with 48pc of total consumption. 

Bord Gáis Energy had the largest market share in the domestic gas market with 45pc of the market by customer numbers.

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