A large number of households in Ireland don't submit a regular meter reading. But in a time of rising prices it's more important than ever that you do.
You should only pay for what you use, right?
But when it comes to energy, that may not always be the case.
Unless you’re providing a regular meter reading to your energy supplier, some of your gas and electricity bills will be based on an estimate of your usage, which may or may not be highly accurate. This means you could end up overpaying for energy you haven't used. Or equally as bad, end up underpaying and then be hit with a big arrears bill in a few months’ time when your supplier eventually finds out.
At bonkers.ie we've heard many a horror story from people getting a back bill for hundreds of euro as their meter hadn't been read for so long.
Despite this, a report from the CRU last year shows that a whopping 52% of electricity customers and 46% of gas customers haven’t submitted a meter reading of their own over the past 12 months.
Customers of Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy are particularly bad at supplying readings it seems, with closer to 60% of these customers not doing so!
|Incidence of submitting own meter reading in the past 12 months*
Bord Gáis Energy
*Source: CRU Residential Electricity & Gas Market Survey Results 2020
Why it’s so important to submit a meter reading
Providing a regular meter reading means your bill will be based on accurate usage.
This is important at the best of times but particularly during a period of rising prices.
Estimates are not always accurate and sometimes suppliers can underestimate your energy usage. When this happens, suppliers will then bill you for the gas and electricity you used at a later date - once an actual reading has been carried out. However you'll be charged for the units owed at the most up-to-date price. It won’t be based on the price of your gas and electricity at the time it was actually consumed and when prices may have been far lower.
Electric Ireland has recently announced it's increasing the standard unit rate of its electricity by 38% and its gas by 47%, which will come into effect on 1 October 2022. As will hefty increases from SSE on the same date.
Bord Gais Energy also announced an increase of over 45% to its standard unit rate of electricity and 48% to gas which will come into effect on 2 October 2022.
Meanwhile Energia and Flogas will implement big increases later in the month.
This means if you end up having to 'backpay' for energy you owe, you could end up paying significantly extra for it than you otherwise should have.
How do I know if my bill has been estimated?
If your bill has been based on estimated usage, you'll see the letter E written somewhere on the bill - usually beside the number of units you've used or the billing amount. If it's based on a meter reading, you'll see the letter A instead.
Take a look at this guide to learn more about how to read your energy bill.
What to do?
A few days before every bill is due, you should ideally submit an up-to-date reading to your supplier.
Some suppliers will send you a handy reminder text (though you may need to opt in for this) and you should be able to submit the reading online or through your supplier's app if they have one.
However, you're allowed to submit a reading at any time.
If you're unsure how to take a reading, check out this handy guide we did on how to read a meter.
An end to estimated electricity bills
Smart electricity meters are currently being rolled out to every home, farm and business in Ireland with smart electricity tariffs now available from some of the country's main suppliers. And the aim is to have a smart meter installed in every premise in the country by 2024.
As smart meters can communicate in real time with your supplier, they will also reduce the need for estimated electricity bills, meaning ESB Networks won't have to come visit your home to take a meter reading four times a year and you won't have to submit a reading yourself.
Instead each bill you get will be based on accurate, up-to-date energy usage - meaning you'll only ever pay for what you've used going forward. Nice!
If you have a smart meter, chat to your supplier about activating it so that you don't have to worry about estimated bills.
Consider switching energy supplier
Remember that you can always switch energy supplier and save yourself money on your bills!
Switching gas and electricity supplier is quick and easy on bonkers.ie with our free energy comparison service.
One of the reasons why meter readings may be inaccurate is due to the fact so many of us are still working from home. If you’re working remotely, take a look at these 12 ways to save money while working from home which may help you further lower your bills.