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Theherald

Don't be afraid to bundle up with your supplier if it gets you a better deal

If like me, you couldn't get to September before switching the heating back on, you'll already be worried about the first bill landing. Such a dismal summer and chilly autumn start makes for household budgeting blues. Sinead Ryan

This week I'm looking at current offers in the gas market since you might not have checked these out since summer or maybe you changed your supplier.

Since 1980 when the first 20,000 people were connected to natural gas, some 326,000 households - and 69pc of Dubliners - now use it as their primary power source, so it's always worth keeping on top of things to make sure you're getting the best deal out there.

First, some good news: oil and gas prices are down this summer, which should reflect on bills. And the PSO levy (set by the Government) is being reduced by about €5.

Most contracts sign you up for a year, so be aware of this when comparing. It might be beneficial to switch, or indeed, bundle gas with your electricity from the same supplier, but not always. Comparison sites such as bonkers. ie are helpful.

To actually switch, it's really simple - you need your last bill, meter reading and bank details and it's all done over the phone.

If you're prepared to pay by direct debit or paperless billing, all offer discounts for this and they're worth it.

There's a quirk in the Commission for Energy Regulation's rules that bans energy companies from advertising some offers, but I've checked the latest out for you.

Energia sells both gas and electricity and has a discount of 13pc off the former and T7pc off dual fuel.

Flogas is storming the market. You might only know it for the big yellow cylinders, but it supplies cheap natural gas too and has a great 20pc direct debit discount at present for signing up for 12 months. Definitely worth including in the mix. It doesn't sell electricity.

Bord Gais has announced its second price discount recently, from October 1. It has lots of switching offers including €100 cashback, free boiler service (before September 30) or a Tesco voucher, depending on the deal.

It has discounts for electricity and/or gas, but 2pc of these are 'flexible' for you to choose which utility you want it off. I like that they also make offers available to existing customers.

Electric Ireland has a €30 online switching bonus and is giving its 'Nest' tool for free if you sign up for two years. That's a long tie-in, but the app allows you to control your heating/water remotely and is worth €349.

 

HANDY

Bord Gais has its own 'Hive' product that retails for €299 and replaces your existing thermostat with the new device that can also be worked from an app. Handy if you've inadvertently left on the heating, or want to switch it on before you leave work.

SSE Airtricity has a €20 cashback with 20pc off electricity and 10pc off gas (it doesn't sell stand-alone gas). It's also offering a free boiler service if you sign up before the end of the month.

Don't forget that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland gives grants for home insulation and new boilers. Under the Warmer Homes scheme, these are meanstested for those on social welfare and all work is free; under the Better Homes initiative it's open to everyone. Grants range from €200 to €3,600. See www.seai.ie.

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