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Theherald

Bills falling but families can still save more than €200 a year just by switching energy providers

Irish customers could save more than €200 a year if they switch energy providers as a price war looks set to take hold. Writes Laura Larkin

Simon Moynihan, of price comparison website bonkers.ie, said savings of up to €214 could be made if electricity consumers changed suppliers.

However, many customers do not take advantage of this. The news comes after Electric Ireland announced a new reduction of 6pc in electricity prices that will come into effect next month.

The saving is the third to be passed on to consumers since the price of oil began to fall in 2014.

WELCOMED

The latest price cut means that the cost of an average annual electricity bill has fallen by €107 since November 2014.

"Electric Ireland's latest price cut is certainly to be welcomed, and I hope we will see other suppliers follow suit, but householders should be aware that the best savings are for active customers prepared to switch to the best deals," said Mr Moynihan.

"Wholesale electricity prices are down more than 35pc since April 2014, and suppliers are passing those savings on to new customers in the form or discounts, sign- up incentives and even cash back.

"A customer switching from standard rates to the best electricity deal in the market right now will save €214, which is almost four times as much as they would save by waiting for a price cut."

Falling wholesale oil prices and increasing competition in the household energy sector mean consumers are poised to reap the benefits of a price war.

Consumer advocate Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, urged customers to continue seeking more discounts to increase competition between providers.

"The bills have been dropping, no question, but you don't want consumers to sit back and relax and say, ' Oh, they've finally dropped and that's great'. We can't take the foot off the pedal on this one," he said.

Mr Jewell said the rate of savings depends on the type of customer and whether they are active about seeking discounts on their bills.

"Some will suggest that it's gone down 10pc or 15pc and it will have for some but not for all," he said. "

The companies are seeing a big drop in wholesale prices and allowing it to introduce a bit of competition. At this stage, anything that a consumer gets as a reduction is a win."

The latest figures available from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that, on average, the household cost of electricity, gas and other fuels was down 7.5pc compared with March last year. The biggest decrease was in home heating oil, which dropped by 27.3pc.

CAMPAIGN

The initiative, which was one of Ireland's biggest ever consumer campaigns, secured a discount on household energy bills by signing up thousands of people who were able to seek a special rate.

"We all know that the price of oil has dropped an awful lot, but we haven't seen the same changes in energy prices for consumers," he said.

"Really, when a number of consumers get together and there's buying power, that does trigger things.

"I think it's a price war and I don't know if that would have happened without us."

Wholesale gas prices have also been dropping globally since 2014 and are down 45pc.

However, in the past two years the cost of household energy has fallen by only 8pc for electricity and 16pc for gas.

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