Households have less than two weeks to take advantage of the best electricity deals for the next year. A price war has been sparked by One Big Switch, a new crowdsourcing website that has negotiated a special deal on electricity from Bord Gais Energy for its membership of more than 50,000. Electric Ireland retaliated with a €50 online switching discount, SSE Airtricity has a €30 discount and Energia has sweetened its dual-fuel offer for households that sign up for a gas and electricity bundle.
It depends on how much electricity you use and whether your existing supplier is Bord Gais Energy or Electric Ireland, which do not give their best deals to existing customers.
Assuming you are not a customer, Electric Ireland’s Value Saver plan is the best electricity tariff. It includes a €50 credit on your first or second bill if you switch online. According to bonkers.ie, a comparison site, the tariff would cost €1,008 after you have been a customer for 12 months. SSE Airtricity’s best deal would cost €1,072. Energia comes in at €1,075 and Bord Gais Energy is €1,094.
Oliver Tattan, the founder of One Big Switch said: “We never claimed we’d always have the best deals. We’ve created a price war, which is excellent for consumers.”
WHAT ABOUT GAS?
Flogas has been cheapest for some time and its tariff remains the best for new customers despite the price war. Bonkers.ie said households with average gas usage – 13,800 kWh of gas a year – would pay €852.
This gives a total energy bill of €1,860 a year for households getting gas from Flogas and electricity from Electric Ireland. This is €42 less than Energia’s new dual-fuel offer , which would cost €1,902.
There are strict time limits on all the new offers: April 17 for One Big Switch and Energia, April 30 for Electric Ireland’s €50 switching credit and May 31 for the €30 discount from SSE Airtricity. You must sign up on the provider’s own websites.
To get the best deals, all suppliers require customers to pay by direct debit and agree to online billing. Energia and Electric Ireland lock you in for 12 month contracts with penalties for leaving early.
One Big Switch and its electricity provider, Bord Gais Energy, require that you sign up for a level pay plan that spreads the cost of electricity into equal instalments throughout the year. “It evens out the cost so that you don’t get hit by big bills in the winter,” said Tattan.
The risk is that you may overpay and have to go looking for a refund at the end of the year. The level instalments are based on your electricity use in the previous year. A buffer of up to 20% is added, however, to help ensure the instalments are not set too low.
After a year, your usage is reconciled with what you have been billed. If you have overpaid by more than €200, you will get a refund. If the overpayment is less than €200, your instalments for the next year will be reduced to reflect the overpayments, although you can request a full refund if you decide to switch.
All of these deals are based on introductory discounts that run out after a year. If you sign up now, your must plan to move again in 12 months’ time when the discounts expire.