One of the best ways to discover how we fare on utility bills is to compare Ireland with the rest of Europe. Eurostat's latest independent research on gas and electricity pricing makes for shocking reading. Ireland had the third highest costs of all member states last year and showed the third highest utility increase, with a 5.4pc rise in electricity - the EU average was just 2.9pc.
One key reason is taxes and levies - cash our Government pockets and which comes in at over 16pc of the bill. Of course, the other is customer apathy. If suppliers think they can get away with a price they'll charge it, knowing many of us are too lazy to bother switching or think it's too much hassle. So, it's good to see a new player in the market. Panda Power are offering electricity contracts targeting, in particular, Energia, the market leader. It will be interesting to see how it aids competition.
I switched both my accounts to a new provider last summer and, with the contract up, I'll be looking at it again this year - there's no loyalty in this market and switching is as simple as a phone call and a check of your meter. Nobody comes to the house, or has to install anything.
Checking out sites like Bonkers.ie or uSwitch.ie means you can find out for yourself whether going with two separate providers or bundling your utilities offers better value. So switch - they won't get the message otherwise.