Warning of energy bills shock as many pay too much

SIX out of 10 households have never switched energy provider, which means many consumers are paying over the odds for electricity and gas, experts say.

Consumers are also being advised to "bundle" together the products and services they buy to save money.

A raft of new charges and cuts took effect this week that will suck up to €1,000 from the average household budget.

Finance expert Simon Moynihan of price comparison site Bonkers.ie said hard-pressed families were set for shocks later this month when energy bills arrive.

He advised consumers to avoid a winter bill shock by opting to pay monthly for electricity and gas supplies.

"It means that instead of getting huge winter gas bills when funds are at their lowest, you could be paying a flat (rate) of €75 every month. Just like paying for your TV or broadband, and a great idea for budgeting," he said

Mr Moynihan said six out of 10 people have never changed their energy supplier, despite the savings that can be made.

The average household is now paying €2,100 a year to keep the lights on and stay warm.


Many of those who have not switched supplier are paying expensive standard energy rates, even though all suppliers have a string of discount deals.

"Ask your current supplier for a new discount when your current one runs out, or switch to a better deal with another supplier. The difference between standard rates and the best discounts is more than €250 a year," he said.

And the State's two million car owners should make sure they do not fall into the trap of automatically renewing their motor insurance without checking if they can get a better deal.

A study commissioned by the National Consumer Agency last summer found that there has been a fall in the numbers switching product and service providers.

Just a third of consumers had switched provider for insurance, banking, gas and electricity. And a majority of those who had not switched had not even bothered to check if they could have benefited from a better deal, the agency found.

Mr Moynihan said mortgage holders may be able to make massive savings by seeking out a new quote for mortgage protection insurance, as premiums have fallen in the past two years.

And consumers were advised to take out a bundle deal for landline, broadband and TV in a bid to save money.

- Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

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