This article was written in 2012 and may contain out of date information. Browse more recent articles.
- please note that the Airtricity Surge product is no longer available -
Airtricity is whipping up interest in a new product they are (sort of) launching on Friday. They kicked off with a trickle of tweets saying that Captain Energy was working on a super secret plan and that all would be revealed this week.
If you’re not familiar with Captain Energy, he’s Airtricity kitschy super-hero mascot, replete with luminous green underpants worn on the outside of a skintight silver jumpsuit. He’s even got lightning bolts zapping off the sides of his head. But he does have a certain something… or is that just me?
Anyway, Captain Energy has just revealed that his super secret plan is in fact a new electricity tariff. It’s called the Surge and Airtricity says they are offering an extra big discount because they plan to spend as little money as possible on marketing. Instead, they are asking people to spread the word through social media and even word of mouth. To create urgency, the tariff is only available for a limited time – a week from Friday the 4th is what we’ve heard at bonkers.ie. And for the deal to become real, a certain number of people have to say they’re interested.
It’s an interesting strategy, and we’ll know if it worked soon enough. If people can actually sign up by the end of next week, then Airtricity has gathered enough interest to make it worth their while. And at bonkers.ie, we think it’s our job to help people figure out whether new energy deals are worth their while.
So in the spirit of having a good look at new deals when they come along, we’ll leave Captain Energy to his lightening bolts and see what’s what with Airtricity’s Surge. And no, it hasn’t been lost on me that writing about this probably makes me a piece of Airtricity’s markitecture too...
The Surge is an electricity only tariff, and Airtricity says it has the biggest discounts in Ireland. It’s a two year contract and they are offering 18% off their Standard unit rate in the first year and 8% off in the second year.* The Surge is only available to new customers and if you quit before your two years are up, you’ll pay a penalty of €50 in the first year or €25 in the second year. These penalties are lower than Airtricity charges for quitting other contracts which I suppose is a positive.
So is it a good deal then? Worth a two year contract? Well, the way we stack up energy tariffs at bonkers.ie is to see how much they’d cost for an average household in one year when you factor everything in. That means standing charges, PSO levies, VAT and of course all the units used. Basically the total amount of cash you’ll spend.**
So if you sign up to the Surge and your consumption is average, you can expect to spend about €956 in the coming year on electricity. The next best tariff out there is from Bord Gais, which is also for new customers only and costs €965. So, yes, if you’re able to meet all the signup criteria, and your consumption is pretty average, then the Surge is the cheapest electricity tariff in the market right now.***
Ok, I know. You’re thinking there’s a couple of things I’ve overlooked, like what about that year-two rate and those penalties. Well, here’s the thing… Most discounted tariffs are for new customers only and for one year only. You get a decent rate for the first year and then go onto a standard or reduced rate after that, or you switch again.
Where Airtricity deviates from this is that they want to hang on to you for two years, so they're giving a reduced discount of 8% in year-two and charge a penalty if you quit before the two year term is up. The reduced discount is 8% off Airtricity's standard rate which will bring annual costs up to around €1,051. That's nearly €100 more expensive in year-two, but it's still cheaper than all the standard rates out there. If you quit in year-two, the penalty is €25. In a year's time, if you think you can make that penalty back in savings by going to another deal from, say, Electric Ireland or Bord Gais, what’s stopping you?
*Something to watch out for with this tariff and others like it is that the prices are not fixed. The discounts are off the Airtricity standard rate, and if it goes up, then you pay more.
*We're regulated by the Commission for Energy Regulation. They stipulate that when we compare tariffs we should use one year as the benchmark and take all costs into account, not just unit rates. This is important because standing charges vary across all suppliers. This explains why a tariff that is marketed as having a discount of say 14% by the supplier may show a saving of 12% on bonkers.ie.
***The Commission for Energy Regulation says that national average household electricity consumption is 5,300 kWh per year. We use this in our calculations unless you specify your usage.
And finally... you'll be able to compare this tariff against all others available through our energy centre on Friday 4th May. Just click here.