Gas & Electricity

Switching energy supplier - frequently asked questions

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Image
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

One of the simplest ways to save some cash is to regularly change energy supplier. So we’re going to take a look at some of the most common questions we get asked about the process to make it as easy as possible for you to switch and save! 

We're all about pointing you in the right direction towards saving money and one of the best ways to save on your household bills is to switch gas and electricity supplier regularly.

However, many are daunted by the process. So we want to lift the veil and let you know just how quick and easy it is for you to do!

The way the industry works

Most of Ireland’s energy suppliers put the majority of their energy (excuse the pun) into hooking up new customers by giving them the cheapest deals. 

But those discounted deals 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.

And 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:

  1. Call your supplier and ask them to extend your discount for another year and hope they will, or

  2. Switch to a new supplier - whichever one is offering the best discount to new customers

It may seem like a pain to do this every year, but a short phone call or visit to bonkers.ie and you might be able to save yourself some serious cash.

1. Will I be penalised if I switch energy supplier?

Most energy contracts last one year. After this you’re completely free to switch to a new supplier without penalty. 

If you switch energy supplier before your contract is up, there’ll usually be an early exit fee of €50 for single fuel contracts or €100 for dual fuel. 

However in some cases, depending on the energy deal you originally signed up for, the fee may be higher. 

You can learn more about energy cancellation fees here. 

2. Do I need to give my supplier notice that I'm leaving?

No. As long as you're out of contract you don't need to give your existing supplier any advance notice that you want to switch. In fact you don't need to contact them or deal with them at all during the switchover process. At bonkers.ie, we do all of that for you!

3. What do I need to switch energy supplier?

You need four main pieces of information to switch energy supplier:

  1. If you’re switching electricity you’ll need your MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number) - this is an 11-digit number found on your electricity bill and helps the energy suppliers identify your property. If you’re switching gas you’ll need your GPRN (Gas Point Reference Number) - a seven-digit number found on your gas bill.

  2. A recent meter reading - if you need a meter key just let us know and we'll send one out to you.

  3. You also need to know roughly how much energy you use in a year either in kWh or in euro. See our guide here on the national average energy consumption.

  4. To complete your energy switch you’ll also need to give us some personal details such as your home and email address and a contact number. You'll also need to give us your bank account details i.e. your IBAN and BIC.

For a more thorough overview of what you’ll need to switch see here.

You can get a better estimate of your expected savings if you also know the name of the current plan that you're on so it’s useful to have this to hand when switching as well. You can find this on a recent bill or by contacting your supplier. 

4. How do I switch gas and electricity supplier?

With your MPRN, GPRN and recent meter reading to hand, use our energy price comparison calculator and follow the simple steps below. It’ll take you no more than a couple of minutes to switch.

  1. Tell us the name of your existing price plan. You can find this on a recent bill or by contacting your existing supplier. 

  2. Give us a good estimate of how much energy you use in a year, either in euro or kWh. This helps us give you the most accurate results.

  3. You’ll then be presented with a list of all of the deals available to you, presented in order of total price. And by total price, we mean total price - including all of the additional fees and taxes that get tagged on to energy bills.

  4. Choose your new energy provider.

  5. Enter a few personal and banking details, along with a recent meter reading...and that’s it.

    5. Is it easy to switch energy supplier?

    Yes. It only takes a few minutes to switch and it can all be done online on bonkers.ie without the need for any phone calls or paperwork. 

    However if you’d prefer to speak to someone over the phone you can call our Dublin-based customer service team on 01 256 0500.

    6. What happens after I switch supplier?

    Around two to three weeks after you’ve switched, your old supplier will send you out a closing bill, which will be based on the meter reading you provided at the time of the switch. Around this time your new supplier will also write out to you to welcome you and give you all the information you need e.g. your account number, contact details etc. 

    You’ll need to pay the closing bill from your old supplier by the due date. Then all of your future bills will come from your new supplier. 

    7. Is there a risk I could get cut off during the switch process?

    No. Your energy supply won’t be affected in any way during the switchover process. Up to 30,000 electricity customers and 10,000 gas customers switch every month so energy suppliers do this type of thing every day.

    8. When will I hear from my new supplier?

    You should hear from your new supplier by post or email around three weeks after you’ve switched on bonkers.ie, if not sooner.

    9. Can I change my energy supplier if I owe money?

    If you’re in arrears with your current supplier you may not be able to switch though it largely depends on how much you owe.  

    If you do switch you’ll still need to pay all amounts due when your old supplier sends you your closing bill. 

    10. How much will I save by switching?

    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 each year (that’s 11,000 kWh of gas and 4,200 kWh of electricity) you should save somewhere between €300 and €500 a year if you’re switching from standard rates to the cheapest deal on the market.

    If you use more energy than the average household, and/or live in a poorly insulated house, you’ll probably save even more than that though.

    11. How often should I switch supplier?

    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, some suppliers will offer retention deals to customers to keep them sweet for an extra year or two but these tend not to be as competitive as the deals a new customer will be offered. 

    12. Is it better to switch to a dual fuel deal or to separate gas and electricity suppliers?

    It is usually a bit cheaper to get your gas and electricity from separate suppliers though this does change.

    However, you might like the convenience of only having to deal with one supplier for both fuels. It all depends on how much you value the convenience of getting one bill every month, as opposed to two, and of having to only deal with one supplier.

    13. What are the different payment methods available to me?

    When switching the best deals are usually reserved for those who choose to pay by direct debit. This is because the supplier saves on administration costs and in turn is able to pass on some of those savings to you.

    Many new tariffs are only available to customers prepared to pay by direct debit, however other payment methods are also available.

    Direct debit

    As mentioned, paying by direct debit is more convenient and usually cheaper than paying by cash or cheque.  It’s also the most common payment type nowadays. When your supplier sends you a bill either in the post or electronically, a date will be included when you can expect payment to be deducted from your bank account. You are usually given notice of two weeks before payment is expected. Many of the cheapest electricity and gas tariffs are available to customers paying by direct debit only. To pay by direct debit, you must provide your supplier with your bank sort code and account number, or your IBAN.

    Cash or cheque 

    Some deals will allow you to pay by cash or cheque at a payment centre like a post office or in your bank. These tariffs are usually more expensive than paying by direct debit though.

    Pre-payment

    You can also choose to pay for your energy in advance by getting a pre-payment meter installed and topping up your account with credit. This credit can usually be bought in shops or purchased online.

    With pre-payment plans you will have one less bill in the post to worry about. However these plans are usually a good bit more expensive than normal bill pay/direct debit deals. 

    14. Can I change my mind?

    If you change your mind after completing an energy switch, a cancellation or cooling-off period of 14 days applies during which you can cancel your order without incurring any penalties. This consumer right is enshrined under EU law and applies to all suppliers.

    If you do cancel, it is a good idea to follow up in writing or by email so that it can be verified later if needed.

    Start switching and saving today

    You can run a full, thorough comparison of gas and electricity suppliers using our energy comparison tool. It’s free, easy to use and lets you see every deal that’s available.

    Before making the switch, it’s important to do some research to ensure you’re making a fully informed decision. 

    If you thought this guide was helpful, why not check out the following?:

    You can stay up-to-date with all energy-related news with our blogs and guides.

    Get in touch

    While many questions were covered in this guide if you have any that are still unanswered, we’d be happy to help!You can contact us on our social media channels. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.