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Gas & Electricity guide

7 things to consider when switching energy supplier

7 things to consider when switching energy supplier
Rob Flynn

Rob Flynn

Staff Writer

It's not always just about price. There are a number of other important things to consider when switching energy supplier.

Switching energy supplier is one of the easiest ways to save yourself a few bob. And with more of us working from home these days, being on the best energy plan for your needs is probably more important than ever. 

The great news is that the switching process is really simple and only takes a matter of minutes, especially when you use bonkers.ie.

However, there are a number of things you should keep in mind when switching suppliers to help you find the best deal for you.

1. Green energy

If you’re considering switching energy supplier and fancy doing your bit for the environment, it might be worthwhile taking a look at the wealth of new green energy deals available for single and dual fuel customers.

Green energy is generated through renewable sources such as solar, wind and renewable biogas.

Currently, over 30% of Ireland’s energy is produced from renewable resources, and with that figure only set to increase into the future it’s well worth your while to check out the variety of green energy plans on offer with our green energy comparison service.

2. Customer service

Another important factor to consider before signing up to a new supplier, which many people overlook, is checking out your new supplier’s customer service record to make sure it’s up to scratch. In this way you can make sure you won’t be left in the lurch should you need assistance if anything goes wrong.

One easy way of researching the different energy companies' trustworthiness is by checking out the Commission for Regulation of Utilities’ (CRU) website. The CRU releases statistics each year from its Customer Care Team informing the public of complaints registered in the energy sector.

The report has lots of detail and analysis outlining the types of complaints filed against each supplier and whether or not they were effectively resolved. It also includes the amount of complaints lodged in comparison to an individual supplier's market share. All of this information is invaluable when making a judgement about which supplier to give your business to, regardless of price.

One thing to bear in mind with the CRU reports, however, is that a number of new suppliers have entered the market since the last report was published in 2019, so no official data is yet available with respect to these new players.

Another handy way to gauge a supplier's customer service record is to check out reviews on Google. Google Reviews are always a valuable tool for consumers when checking out a new business or supplier and are generally a good reflection of consumer sentiment. You can leave a review for bonkers.ie right here.

However, we would advise to use your best judgement when using this source, or any online review portal, as they can sometimes be misleading with respect to disgruntled customers voicing frustrations.

3. Single or dual fuel

Another thing to consider when switching energy supplier is whether you're looking to switch just gas or electricity or both as this will naturally impact the offers open to you.

If you want to switch both your gas and electricity, looking at the best dual fuel plans on the market is well worth your while as most energy suppliers offer special discounts for new dual fuel customers, including generous cashback offers. Choosing dual fuel also means you will only have to deal with one supplier which makes life a lot easier for many families.

That being said, it’s also possible to switch your gas and electricity with two different suppliers, availing of two separate and distinct offers. This allows you more flexibility when it comes to availing of the best discounts available, but it will take up a bit more time with regards to administration and dealing with the separate suppliers.

4. Each supplier’s online capabilities

Before switching to your new energy supplier we'd also advise doing some research into their online capabilities before committing to a contract. Investigating what a specific supplier’s ‘online services’ look like is important, as features like access to your own online account are invaluable when trying to keep track of your spending on energy.  Other features like online payment facilities, as well as online bill access are also important to look out for when switching suppliers.

Another important part of a supplier's online presence is whether or not they have a mobile app. The existence of an app at all is usually a good sign the supplier is engaging with customers and trying to make their customer service experience much easier. However, if you want to know more about a specific app, like with a company's customer service, you should take a look at the reviews posted on the Apple and Android app stores which will help significantly in determining the good and the bad.

5. Loyalty and rewards schemes

If loyalty and rewards schemes are important to you then you should also make it your business to research the existing rewards schemes available with each supplier when switching.

For example, Electric Ireland has its ‘Real Rewards’ partnership with SuperValu, while Bord Gáis Energy has its 'Rewards Club' in partnership with Tesco. With both these schemes you'll earn clubcard points whenever you pay your bill. What's more, when you receive your vouchers, you can use these to double up on your savings with a €5 voucher knocking a tenner off your energy bills.

And if you're with SSE Airtricity and have a Permanent TSB Explore current account which you use to pay your bill, you'll get 2% of your bill back into your account in cash.  

6. Fixed vs variable tariff

Just like mortgage rates, some energy suppliers offer the choice of a fixed or a variable tariff. 

Although common in the UK and Europe, fixed energy tariffs are still quite rare in Ireland but some suppliers do offer them so this is something for you to consider too. 

Whether you choose a fixed tariff or a variable one will depend on the value you place on certainty and the peace of mind in knowing that your energy won’t increase in price over the period of your contract.

However the price you pay for certainty is a slightly higher unit rate to begin with as fixed energy tariffs are usually slightly more expensive than variable tariffs.

7. Price

Last but not least, and probably the most obvious point to consider, is price, which is the main reason the vast majority of consumers switch their energy provider. 

More often than not people pay above and beyond what they should be paying for energy. There are plenty of great deals available on the market, but consumers should be aware of what exactly makes up the price they are quoted before committing to a contract.

The Estimated Annual Bill, or EAB, is the most important tool for consumers when comparing prices on bonkers.ie as this is the estimated amount you will pay for the entire year. It is calculated using the average energy consumption figures provided by the CRU and the unit rates of the specific tariff. The EAB figure quoted factors in any cashback offered, taxes and levies charged, as well as the standing charge for your chosen tariff.

One thing consumers should bear in mind is that, where cashback is involved, the amount advertised is generally deducted from your first bill and is never refunded via post or via cheque, for example. This is why it’s important to pay close attention to the EAB when comparing energy deals.

When comparing energy plans on bonkers.ie we provide all our calculations so you can see exactly what you’ll be charged and why. That means you can see the estimated savings you could make with each individual energy tariff.

When comparing energy deals on bonkers.ie you will also have the option of entering your exact energy consumption, should you know it, for a more thorough estimated annual bill.

Did you find this useful?

Did you find this guide useful? Why not check out our separate energy guide on the 10 terms you need to know when switching energy suppliers.

And finally, if you're now ready to take the plunge and switch supplier, head over to our energy price comparison calculator and start your switch today.

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