It makes sense to act now to ensure that you have the best energy deals in place for when the cold weather strikes

One of the biggest sources of friction in families is leaving on the immersion heater for the hot water. - Charlie Weston

It is a particular obsession for fathers. And the main reason the hot water heating system is left on is simple forgetfulness.

Huge numbers of people admit to leaving the heating or hot water on unnecessarily, according to research conducted by Bord Gais Energy.

As a father of girls - a teen and a tween - I am painfully aware that I have turned into my own father when complaining about the immersion. That is, until I do it myself.

Families can alter their behaviour, however and to help energy companies are now rolling out smart thermostats that allow you to remotely control your heating system.

But we could do even more to save on our energy bills.

Moving supplier is one of the best ways to avoid needlessly spending on heating systems.

Consumers have shown a reluctance to switch service and product providers. Only around 15pc of people switch providers for better prices each year.

This means that a majority of people are paying too much as they are stuck on expensive, so called standard rates.

This is despite the fact that savings of more than €300 can be made if you move providers for both gas and electricity. With the winter on the way, it makes sense to check this out.

We have never had more competition in this market. There are now seven companies providing electricity to households.

On the gas side, there are four suppliers competing for the euros of households.

One of the manifestations of this intense competition is a plethora of cash-back offers, sign-up incentives and discounts for new customers

The discounts can be as much as 20pc - that is something that would make up for leaving the immersion on too long.

The introduction of these discounts has resulted in the highest ever savings over the standard rates that most customers pay, with electricity customers now able to save €168 per year, and gas customers able to save €166 per year.

Dual-fuel households with an electricity and gas supply can now bring bills down by as much as €334 a year just by switching from standard rates and moving to the best new customer deals.

Customers that have been with their supplier for more than a year are generally paying expensive standard rates, and switching is usually the quickest and easiest way to save money.

Most customers switch suppliers or tariffs during the winter, or after receiving unexpectedly large bills.

The best deal for electricity at the moment is from Energia. Its Cheep Electricity will cost the average family around €1,043 a year. This is a saving of €168 on standard rates.

Flogas has the best deal with its 20pc Discount offer. This will cost an average family €798 a year, a discount of €166 on standard rates, according to energy expert Simon Moynihan of comparison site Bonkers.ie. For dual fuel, Energia's Cheep deal takes the prize.

Switching supplier takes around 10 days to complete and it's worth noting that there is no interruption to supply. As soon as you complete your application you will effectively be on your new rates with your new supplier and your billing will start from the meter readings you provide.

We use most of our electricity and gas during the winter, so it makes sense to act now to ensure that you have the best deals in place for when the cold weather strikes.

Remember, if you do not get yourself a better energy deal it is effectively the same as leaving the immersion on all night. And we know what sort of a row that causes.


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