YOUR MONEY – CHARLIE WESTON
BEAN counters in the European statistics agency have confirmed what most householders know already — we live in one of the most expensive countries in Europe for electricity.
Eurostat found that this country ranked as the fourth most expensive of 28 EU states when it comes to electricity prices.
Consumers in Ireland pay €24.10 per 100 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity, which is 20 per cent higher than the EU average of €20.10, It is 34 per cent higher than our nearest neighbour, Britain.
That makes us the fourth most expensive country in Europe for power behind Denmark, Germany and Cyprus.
And people are struggling to pay their bills. Almost 1,000 Irish homes had their electricity cut off in March because of failure to pay the bills, the latest figures from the Energy Regulator show.
All of this means that householders may be tempted by a new offer from the biggest electricity supplier, Electric Ireland.
It has just done what it calls a "soft launch" of a new pay-as-you-go meter option for householders.
There has been no big launch of this, but the option is available to all the company's domestic customers.
The selling point is that having a meter makes people more conscious of their consumption, which forces them to cut down on energy use.
But consumers need to take heed of the fact that a pay-as-you-go meter can be an expensive way to get electricity.
Many readers will be old enough to remember a time before mobiles, when their fathers threatened to replace the house's landline with a pay-phone to force teenagers off the phone.
Having to physically put coins into a phone means a 40-minute conversation is less likely.
The same logic has seen pay-as-you-go meter suppliers PrePayPower and Pinergy — which uses rugby legend Paul O'Connell in its TV adverts — sign up thousands of households.
Other than PrePayPower and Pinergy, up to now you could only get a pay-as-you-go meter installed by a supplier if you were in arrears.
Now Electric Ireland has launched its prepay offer.
Both PrePayPower and Pinergy charge the standard rate for electricity, so you miss out on special offers. A year's supply will cost an average household €1,348. That is around €290 a year more than the cheapest deal, according to price comparison site Bonkers.ie.
The selling point is that the average household reduces consumption by around 7 percent. This will knock €68 off the annual cost.
A year's supply on Electric Ireland's new pay-as-you-go tariff will cost €1,311 in year one, and €1,255 each year after that.
Opting for a pay-as-you-go meter means you will no longer be sent a bill for your electricity. But be warned that it is not a cheap option.