Over 317,000 electricity customers and 93,000 gas customers switched suppliers in 2016, leaving Ireland near the top of the EU’s switching charts. But should these numbers be higher?
The CER’s Energy Retail Markets Annual Report always gets us talking here at bonkers.ie.
The report contains Ireland’s gas and electricity switching figures for the last year, along with a host of other interesting information, and basically acts as the nation’s report card for energy switching.
So, how did we do?
Well, as my Junior Cert art teacher used to say, “good performance, but not reaching potential”.
Electricity switching is up
A grand total of 317,719 households switched electricity suppliers in 2016, which is an increase on the previous year’s number. So, good news! We’re moving in the right direction.
Now for the not-so-good news.
While our electricity switching number may look big in isolation, it’s actually only 14.13% of all electricity customers in Ireland. What this tells us is that almost 86% of Ireland’s energy customers are potentially missing out on savings.
You see, the cheapest price plans almost always have a new-customer discount included. And you know what usually happens to these discounts after a year? They expire and leave you on a much more expensive standard price plan.
If you haven’t switched suppliers in the last year, the chances are you’re paying more than you have to.
Gas switching fell in 2016
When it comes to gas, 93,434 customers made the switch in 2016.
This is actually a decrease on 2015’s switching number and accounts for just 14.4% of gas customers in the country.
You know what this means? I think you do.
A whopping 86% of gas customers are potentially paying a higher price than the cheapest available.
Renegotiated contracts are a silver lining
There’s a silver lining to our slightly disappointing switching rates, however.
And it’s that a huge number of customers who didn’t switch did manage to get an improved deal from their existing supplier.
In fact, over 196,800 electricity customers and 46,577 gas customers successfully renegotiated new contracts or price plans in 2016. Although these customers didn’t actually switch suppliers to get a lower price, they took action and got themselves a presumably better deal.
The purpose of the CER’s report is to “ensure that the Irish customer continues to benefit from a competitive energy market”.
With the energy retail market now fully deregulated, there is significant competition between Ireland’s nine suppliers. Add falling wholesale prices into the mix, and you get a situation where switching is a really smart way to take advantage of lower prices and special offers.
To quote the CER’s Director of Energy Markets, Laura Brien, “the active consumer continues to get the most value out of competition, with significant savings still available for those customers who are willing to switch or renegotiate”.
If you haven’t switched suppliers in the last 12 months, you can do so in a matter of minutes on our Compare Gas & Electricity page. All you need to do so is your MPRN, GPRN and a recent meter reading.
You can also do it over the phone by calling us on 01 256 0540.
Next year’s switching report will hold extra significance since it’ll be the first after a range of new supplier rules come into effect later this year.
From mid-October, Ireland's energy suppliers will have to give customers 30 days' notice before their discounts expire, write to inactive customers to remind them to consider switching and display an estimated annual bill calculation in all their ads.
In such a competitive market where switching suppliers has never been easier, we think that these rules will be a game-changer for customers.
In 2016, we put in a decent energy switching performance, but let's make 2017 the year in which we take a big leap towards our full potential.