How to switch electricity & gas providers & save €€€
The CRU officially encourages Irish energy customers to switch electricity and gas providers every year. However, reports show that Irish electricity and gas consumers are not great at remembering to switch, with just 14% switching electricity in 2018 and 20% changing gas provider.
So why should you switch and how can you go about it? Is it worth it or just a lot of extra hassle? Read on and find out why you should always switch gas and electric providers every 12 months...
Why switch electricity or gas provider?
First of all, let’s consider why you should switch in the first place. The majority of customers in Ireland who switch generally do so for one of two reasons (or both):
- Customers wish to pay less money for gas and electricity.
- Customers are dissatisfied with their current gas and electricity suppliers.
Customers who switch electricity and gas providers every 12 months can save up to €342 a year. So why do so many customers stay with their current provider?
It could be because they are happy with the service provided, but more often is it from a perception of difficulty in switching. Many Irish customers are also unaware that as soon as their electricity or gas contract expires (most energy contracts in Ireland are 12-month contracts) they will be switched onto the standard tariff without any discount.
Standard energy tariffs are the most expensive. We urge customers to switch provider upon expiration of their household energy contracts, or at a bare minimum renegotiate a discount with their current provider. The gas and electricity provided by energy suppliers all come from the same place and there is no point in leaving money on the table.
There are also some interesting add-ons to electricity and gas contracts for new customers, such as Energia and Electric Ireland’s smart thermostat offers. In addition to the savings from being on a discounted tariff, and being better able to manage your energy consumption with a smart thermostat, you could end up saving even more money by getting a free or discounted smart thermostat if you were in the market for buying a one anyway.
How do I know which is the cheapest electricity supplier or gas supplier?
All energy suppliers in Ireland are required to list an EAB on the tariffs and rates sections of their websites. The EAB is a useful tool to compare electricity and gas tariffs and see at a glance which one is cheaper. We also have all the information on the cheapest electricity and gas tariffs on our energy providers’ pages.
What is an EAB?An EAB is an estimated annual bill for a certain tariff or plan. The EAB is calculated on the average kWh (kilowatt-hour) usage of Irish households.
Bear in mind that just because a provider is the cheapest does not necessarily mean that they are the right provider for you. You’ll also need to consider:
- Any add-ons to tariffs such as smart thermostats or discounts on other services.
- Whether you would prefer a renewable tariff or not.
- Contract length.
- Whether the tariff is fixed or variable.
- Whether you would prefer a pay as you go (PAYG) contract or a regular credit contract.
Switch to a smart thermostat deal
Suppliers currently offering smart thermostat deals include :
There are also some other add-ons which could be of interest, such as if you switch to Panda Power you can receive a discount on your waste management bill if you are with Panda.
Switch to renewable energy
Irish energy suppliers who currently offer 100% renewable electricity for residential customers are:
Regarding contract length, the majority of contracts with discounts for new customers are 12 months in duration. However, there are longer contracts on offer, such as those offered by the new provider Glowpower, which carry discounts of between 25-20% over a three year period.
Some electricity contracts which come with smart thermostats included may also last up to 24 months, in which case you’ll need to double-check whether and unit rate discounts will be applied for the entire contract length or just the initial 12-month period.
Switch to a fixed or variable tariff?
Fixed tariffs are still somewhat of a rarity in Ireland, despite their popularity in the neighbouring UK. Just Energy provided fixed electricity and gas tariffs but is exiting the Irish market. Iberdrola and Flogas are currently the only providers to offer fixed tariffs.
Fixed tariffs are normally initially more expensive than variable tariffs, but can provide peace of mind and may work out cheaper in the end due to rate increases during the year. Essentially, you are rolling the dice as to which will work out cheaper, whether you choose a fixed or variable tariff.
Switch to PAYG?
If you are already a PAYG user, you may wish to continue. In this case, your options for switching are a little limited as there are just four opt-in PAYG providers in Ireland.
- PrePayPower (both electricity and gas)
- Pinergy (electricity only)
- Flogas (gas only)
- Electric Ireland (electricity only)
Keep in mind that Pay As You Go electricity and gas can be a much more expensive option and carefully consider the pros and cons of PAYG if you are thinking of making the switch.
How long does it take to switch electricity or gas providers?
It can take up to 28 days to finalise a switch, but keep in mind that your new provider will take care of all the necessary paperwork for you. The only thing you will need to do is make sure to cancel and Direct Debits you have set up with your previous electricity and/or gas supplier after you receive your final bill.
Can my energy supplier stop me from switching?
No, in short, your energy supplier cannot prevent you from switching. However, if your contract has not ended yet, they can charge you an exit fee. Most exit fees in Ireland run to the tune of €50, although it can be double that or more for dual fuel contracts and/or contracts with a duration of more than 12 months.
You will need to weigh the pros and cons of switching, e.g. if you are unhappy with the customer service of your current provider, and subtract exit fees from any potential savings you could make by switching.
Note that if you are out of contract you cannot be charged an exit fee. You can also cancel any electricity and/or gas contract within the first 14 days of the contract, known as the “cooling-off period” without paying any penalty.
How do you cancel an energy switch?
As we mentioned above, you can cancel an energy switch at any stage within the first fourteen days of making the switch, without paying an exit fee. Simply contact the supplier you were switching to about cancelling the switch.
How do I switch electricity and gas?
The vast majority of Irish suppliers all offer the option of switching online, although you can also simply call them and arrange to switch. Keep in mind that there are often online discounts which are unavailable if you switch over the phone.
What information do I need to switch?
You will generally need to provide personal information and contact information, as well as card details if you are signing up for Direct Debit, and an email address for online billing or to access your online account.
We always recommend you sign up for Direct Debit and paperless billing as oftentimes if you opt for other payment and billing methods, you will not be entitled to the full discount advertised on your gas and electricity unit rates.
Note that to switch electricity provider you will need to provide your MPRN number. To switch gas provider you will have to provide your GPRN number. To contract a dual fuel number you will have to provide both.
What are MPRN and GPRN numbers?MPRN stands for meter point reference number and tells ESB the exact location of your electricity connection. GPRN stands for gas point reference number and lets Gas Networks identify the point at which you are connected to the gas grid. You can find both numbers on any previous bill for a property, or check out our article on MPRN and GPRN numbers for more options.
How will I know if my energy switch has been completed?
Upon completion of the switch, you will receive a welcome pack with information about your new tariff from your new energy supplier. You should also receive a final bill from your previous supplier (make sure to cancel any Direct Debits to your old supplier as soon as you have paid this).
How often can I switch energy suppliers?
You can switch energy suppliers as often as you wish, however, we recommend switching every 12 months. Switching every 12 months will ensure you are consistently charged a discounted unit rate for your gas and electricity and not the more expensive standard rate.
Switching more often than 12 months will mean you will end up paying exit fees so we don’t recommend it unless you feel the potential savings you could make are greater then the exit fee you will be liable for.