What energy customers really think
Simon Moynihan
Staff Writer

Do you pay your bills? Yes? Of course, most people do.

Unsurprisingly, 83% of electricity customers, and 84% of gas customers say they pay their bills in full and on time.

But what if you don’t pay your bills on time, or you don’t pay them in full? Would you consider yourself to be in arrears?

Well, 14% of electricity customers and 13% of gas customers say they only part pay their bills – and get this - most customers do not consider part payment as being in arrears!

So how do we know this? The Commission for Energy Regulation has just released the results of a survey in which 1,001 electricity customers and 1,001 gas customers were asked a wide range of questions about their attitudes and experiences as energy customers. And it’s very interesting. Really!

Here’s one. Do you typically open and read your bill when you receive it?

“No never,” says 15% of gas customers and 10% of electricity customers. That seems like quite a lot, but there are still plenty of conscientious consumers out there. More than a third of people surveyed said that they do open all their bills and actually read them in detail.

But they don’t read their bills in that much detail it seems…

Because only 1 in 8 people were able to give an estimate of what they pay for a unit of electricity, and it looks like most of them were miles off because the average guess was 12.75 cent – which isn’t right at all.

Happy Customers

There is good news for electricity and gas suppliers in this survey. Customers are generally satisfied and they cite this as a reason not to switch for better prices. In fact satisfaction levels have gone up since last year, with 86% now saying they are happy with their electricity suppliers and 88% saying they are satisfied with their gas suppliers.

The satisfaction levels are pretty much in line with switching levels too. The report says that 12% of electricity customers and 16% of gas customers have switched in the last 12 months. This is down a little on the previous year, but there haven’t been any major price hikes for a while which may go a way towards explaining it. Having said that though, Ireland still has one of the highest switching levels in Europe.

So Why Do We Switch?

“I want to save money on my electricity/gas bill,” says 79% of electricity customers and a whopping 94% of gas customers. Other important reasons for switching were prices rises and higher than expected bills.

So, the three main reasons that people switch are money, money and money.

Which isn’t surprising really when you consider that the average Irish household is spending €2,175 a year for gas and electricity. Which, as EuroStat recently pointed out, is very expensive. In fact, we have the third highest electricity prices in Europe behind only Germany and Denmark.

But weirdly enough, when customers do switch, the majority do not switch again after the discounts they signed up to have expired. And that’s despite the fact that 89% of people are satisfied with how easy switching is.


Oh, and speaking of switching (yes, we do go on a bit sometimes), 55% of electricity and 65% of gas switches take place ON THE DOORSTEP!

Why is that interesting? Well, there are is a wide choice of domestic electricity suppliers in Ireland now. And the difference in cost between the cheapest one and the most expensive one is more than €300 a year. That’s a difference of €25 a month for an average household.

What this means is that a rep from Electricity Supplier A may knock on your door and sign you up by saying you’ll save money. Good you think. But then another rep from Electricity Supplier B may sign up your neighbour saying he’ll save money too. But the thing is that you could actually end up paying €300 a year more that your neighbour for the same amount electricity!

And the companies that have the most expensive and the cheapest electricity in Ireland are knocking on doors around the country right now signing up customers.

Which Energy Supplier is Cheapest?

Most of us don’t know how much we’re paying, plenty of us don’t read our bills, and yet nearly all of us say that when we switch, we do it to save money. So how are you to know whether Electricity Supplier A really will save you money? Or if Electricity Supplier B is actually cheaper than you're paying right now?

Well, what we need is a place where all the deals and tariffs and suppliers are listed according to price, and a place where it’s easy to find out which supplier is cheapest right now. And a place where you can switch too. Well, you've found it. It's right here.

Fancy a Quick Energy Quiz?

Below are some questions similar to those that the CER survey asked its respondents. The answers are at the end in small print. Good luck!

  1. How much do you pay for a unit of electricity?
  2. How many domestic electricity suppliers are there?
  3. Can you name any of those electricity suppliers?
  4. Does the Commission for Energy Regulation set gas or electricity prices?
  5. How many people in the survey do you think received a home visit or a phone call from an energy supplier asking them to switch in the last 12 months?


The answers are below, and the findings from 2015 research on attitudes and experiences in the domestic and SME electricity and gas markets in Ireland prepared by Behaviour & Attitudes Ltd and The Research Perspective Ltd On behalf of the Commission for Energy Regulation can be found here.


  1. A unit of electricity ranges in price from 15 to 19 cent.
  2. There are seven electricity suppliers.
  3. Electric Ireland, Bord Gáis Energy, SSE Airtricity, PrePayPower, Pinergy, Energia, Panda Power.
  4. No. The Commission for Energy Regulation stopped regulating electricity prices in 2011 and gas prices in 2014.
  5. 49% of electricity customers and 56% of gas customers.