Before we start, I want to address the elephant in the room - gas and electricity are, well, kind of boring.
We all remember The World’s Most Boring Priest rabbiting on about how much he saved by “running the gas of the electricity and the electricity off the gas” in Fr. Ted. I get it, it’s one of the least exciting topics you could be reading about right now.
But you know what else isn’t very exciting? Passively paying way more than you have to on your bills. And sadly, that’s what about seven out of eight Irish households are doing right now.
In the past, we had no choice over who supplied our gas and electricity - we just flicked on the lights, cranked up the heating and hoped our bill wouldn’t be too big.
But that all changed a few years ago, when Ireland’s energy markets were deregulated and other players were invited in to compete.
There are now 10 energy suppliers in the country and they’re all scrapping it out to find ways to win you over.
And here’s the thing about gas and electricity - you get the same result, no matter who you’re getting it from. So, doesn’t it make sense to find the cheapest way to pay for what is essentially a commodity?
Most of Ireland’s energy suppliers are entirely focused on winning new customers at the moment. And this is reflected in the way they structure their prices.
Nearly every supplier will give you either cashback (sometimes as much as €175) or a discount (sometimes even over 30%) if you switch to them. Pretty nice of them, right?
Well, it is.
But those discounts usually expire after 12 months. And what happens then? You’re bumped on to the supplier’s “standard prices”, which basically means their top price, with no discount applied.
This is what you want to avoid.
Once you get moved onto a standard rate with your supplier, you should immediately do one of two things:
Call your supplier and ask them to extend your discount for another year
Switch to a new supplier - whichever one is offering the best discount to new customers
You might think it’s a bit of a headache to have to renegotiate or switch every single year, but it’s actually ridiculously easy do so.
You need three pieces of information to switch energy suppliers:
Your MPRN number - this is an 11-digit figure written on your electricity bill
Your GPRN number - a seven-digit number on your gas bill
Recent meter readings
In some cases, you can get a better estimate of expected savings if you also know the name of your existing plan. So, it’s useful to have that to hand when switching as well, but it isn’t essential.
It’s also helpful to have an idea of how much energy you use in a year, or how much you usually spend.
With your MPRN, GPRN and meter readings to hand, visit bonkers.ie/compare-gas-electricity-prices/, and follow the steps. It’ll take you no more than a couple of minutes to switch.
You’ll be asked to provide some info about your existing price plan, your average annual consumption or bill and how you like to pay.
Then, you’ll be presented with a list of all of the deals available to you, presented in order of total price.
And by total price, I mean total price - including all of the additional fees and taxes that get tagged on to energy bills.
Once you’ve picked your new provider, you’ll be asked to enter a few personal and banking details, along with a recent meter reading...and that’s it.
Your new supplier will begin processing your switch and you’ll be up and running in a couple of weeks.
And don’t worry, your supply won’t be affected in any way. Energy suppliers do this type of thing every day.
The amount you’ll save by switching depends on your existing plan, your consumption habits and what offers are available at the time of switching.
If you use an average amount of energy (that’s 11,000 kWh for gas and 4,200 kWh for electricity), you should save somewhere between €320 and €350 if you’re switching from standard rates to the cheapest deal on the market.
If you use more energy than the average household, you’ll probably save a good bit more than that.
The general rule of thumb is to switch suppliers every year to make sure you’re always getting the best deal available.
That being said, more and more suppliers are offering good retention deals to customers to keep them sweet for an extra year or two.
It is usually a bit cheaper to get your gas and electricity from separate suppliers.
However, you might like the convenience of only dealing with one supplier for both fuels. It all depends on how much you value the handiness of getting one bill every month, as opposed to two.
Switching suppliers regularly is the easiest way to lower your bills by far, but if you’ve already done that, there are some further steps you can take.
Step one would be to find out which appliances in your home are costing you the most to run. Check out our article, ‘Which appliances use the most electricity’ to get an idea.
Once you’ve identified the biggest energy guzzlers, you can begin working out ways of how to use them less.
Here’s a quick video that outlines some of the best ways to lower your bills.
So there you have it - switching energy suppliers is, without doubt, one of the easiest ways to lower your household bills.
There’s no need to be paying those expensive standard rates any more - there’s plenty of cheap choices out there, now it’s up to you to snap ‘em up.
Let us know how you get on!
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