MONEY MADE EASY – NIALL BRADY
Households can secure the cheapest energy deal for next winter by switching to Energia’s new SaveMe dual-fuel bundle before the end of August. The new tariff, introduced last Monday, gives a discount of 18% on Energia’s standard electricity prices and 17% on gas. Energy experts claim it is the cheapest deal for the average household.
WHAT’S THE COST?
Bonkers.ie, a price comparison site, said the SaveMe bundle would cost €1,883 a year for a three-bedroom household with typical consumption patterns – 5,300 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year and 13,800 kWh of gas. To qualify, you must sign up before August 31, agree to a 12-month contract, pay by direct debit and receive your bills online.
WHAT ARE THE SAVINGS?
SSE Airtricity has the next best dual-fuel-deal - €1,959 for gas and electricity. Electric Ireland comes in at €1,968 when it would cost €2,186 to buy electricity and gas from Bord Gais Energy (BGE).
COULD I DO BETTER?
Dual-fuel bundles used to be more expensive than buying electricity and gas separately from different providers. But this is no longer the case. SSE Airtricity has the cheapest electricity* standalone deal for electricity: €1,070 for an average household. Flogas is best for gas at €853. These deals combined cost €1,923 - €40 a year more than Energia’s SaveMe bundle.
It is unusual for suppliers to cut prices in summer, when demand for electricity and gas is lowest. Experts believe Energia, which entered the domestic market in January, is taking a pre-emptive strike against BGE, which was fully deregulated on July 1 giving it the freedom to set its own tariffs. The move coincided with the completion of the sale of the former sate gas monopoly to Centrica on July 1. Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie said: “Energia’s initial offer was engineered to be just a few cents cheaper than the competition. The latest tariff is terrific value.”
SHOULD I WAIT?
Probably not. Energia is €321 a year, or €27 a month, cheaper than the standard tariffs at Electric Ireland and BGE. If you wait two months to switch, it would cost you €54. “It makes sense to switch now because the chances of BGE introducing a tariff that would save you €54 a year are slim,” Moynihan said. Rather than cutting energy prices, BGE will concentrate on loyalty incentives to try and keep its 55% share of the domestic gas market, according to sources. It has teamed up with Tesco to allow customers to pay their bills using the supermarket’s clubcard rewards points. A €10 voucher gives a €20 discount on your electricity bill, according to BGE.
WHAT ABOUT PREPAY?
Prepay is the fastest growing segment of the electricity market – and the most expensive. Pay-as-you-go providers such as Pinergy and PrepayPower allow you to pay for your electricity in the same was as a mobile phone top-up. Electric Ireland also has a pay-as-you-go option. Tariffs are more expensive, however. Pinergy and PrepayPower would charge €1,348 a year for a home with average electricity consumption of 5,300 kWh. This compares with the cheapest stand-alone electricity deal of €1,070 from SSE Airtricity* – a saving of €278 a year.
You much change supplier eah year to get the best deals. Discounts typically expire after a year. Unless you move, your existing supplier will move you to its more expensive standard tariff. Only 16% of households switched suppliers in the past year, says the Commission for energy Regulation.
*Airtricity is currently the cheapest standalone electricity proivider if you are an Electric Ireland customer. If you are with another supplier, Electric Ireland is the cheapest supplier - S.M.