The National Consumer Agency's latest research has shown that 80% of people who switched a service provider, such as gas, electricity, home insurance or broadband/internet provider, save money. As more of us take advantage of switching offers for our big gas and electricity bills, here's a guide to making the decision and working out what savings are possible.
CHOOSE A PROVIDER
Switching is free and should take just a few minutes to complete online, over the phone or at your doorstep. Shop around to check which plan works best for you. Compare like with like, comparing both the unit rate and the standing charge.
Consider getting your gas and electricity from the same provider; suppliers offer discounts if you get both from them. However, you may save money by getting electricity from one supplier and natural gas from another, so don't immediately take this option for convenience sake.
If possible, pay by direct debit, as suppliers offer discounts for this payment method. And when it comes time to actually getting your bills, choosing an online format instead of paper can also get you a discount. Of course, without the reminder of a paper bill, you will have to remember to chenck your bills online, to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the month.
PROVIDING DETAILS TO A NEW PROVIDER
When you choose a new electricity supplier, they'll ask for your meter point registration number (MPRN), the unique 11-digit number assigned to every single electricity connection in the country. You can find it on your electricity bill and on your meter. The new supplier will also ask for your address and a meter reading, so have these to hand before engaging with them.
The new supplier will then make arrangements with your old supplier to have your account switched. If you are going to pay by direct debit, the new supplier will ask for your bank details too.
Once you have switched your contract, the new supplier will send you a welcome letter and you will then receive a final bill from your old supplier. Take the time to read over the terms and conditions and get in touch if you have any questions.
It has become easy in recent years to switch your gas or electricity provider. The main players are Bord Gáis (recently renamed Ervia), SSE Airtricity, Electric Ireland, Energia and Flogas (gas only).
With any switch, you are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period, in which you can cancel the contract at no loss to you. For an accredited price comparison visit bonkers.ie.
The National Consumer Agency is now part of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission which is mandated to enforce competition and consumer protection law to help consumers make informed decisions and protect their from harmful business practices. See ccpc.ie