How to offset winter energy price increases - Brendan O'Connor
We’re somewhat in the midst of an energy crisis at the moment as consumers are being faced with seemingly never-ending gas and electricity price hikes. There have been 30 energy price increases so far in 2021.
Bord Gáis Energy has just announced another price increase which will see gas prices increase by 12% and electricity prices by 10% in the coming weeks. These price increases will have a significant impact on winter energy bills.
CEO of bonkers.ie, David Kerr, appeared on the Brendan O’Connor show on RTÉ to discuss the effect of energy prices on household bills and how consumers can switch to offset the increases.
Here’s an outline of the main points discussed by David in the interview.
What’s happening in the energy market at the moment?
Most energy suppliers have increased prices three times this year, with some suppliers increasing them four times. This has never happened in Irish history, so this is a really strange time for energy prices.
They’re only going in the wrong direction, which is upwards, and for most customers, it will result in an additional €500 or so on their gas and electricity and in some cases maybe even €800, depending on which supplier you’re with.
Will we continue to see prices increase?
Hopefully we’re at the height of it now. Bord Gáis Energy announced its latest price increase but the supplier stated that there won’t be any more increases until at least the spring of 2022, which should come as some comfort to customers.
This is important because for most customers prices have increased dramatically since last year, but we haven’t even felt it yet because of the summertime. People may be in for a shock when they start getting their winter bills in a month or two.
Will switching help in this situation?
Maybe counterintuitively it may help more than ever. The reason for that is because when you switch energy supplier you’re getting a discount rate for a year in most cases. That discount rate is a pretty significant discount in fact.
Most customers can offset the price increases this year by switching to a different tariff with a different supplier. It can give you a saving of over €560 per year, based on the standard rates. The best way to try to avoid the increases this year is to change supplier.
During the Covid-19 pandemic there haven't been people calling door to door to houses, but people have been switching online and the numbers of people switching haven't really changed during covid.
How many people tend to switch?
For electricity it’s about 30,000 people per month and for gas it’s about 10,000 per month. That number has been fairly static for the last 10 years we’ve been offering our service.
The regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), publishes the figures every month and they’ve been static recently.
The figures show that 6 out of 7 people are on standard prices and they’re paying the most for their electricity and also gas. People should be looking for a discount rate.
Should people switch every year?
Yes, people should look to switch every year. The discounts tend to last for 12 months, as do contracts. After the 12 months is up, your discount goes away and you’re put onto standard rates, which are the most expensive.
People will start to notice these price increases over the coming weeks and months. When the clocks change and people start turning on their heating, they’ll see a significant increase in their energy bills.
After Christmas is when it can hit quite hard and people spend a lot of time looking at their bills as they’ve been at home a lot as well. However you can take steps today to avoid overpaying.
How can people switch?
If people want to stay with their current supplier, they should phone up and ask if they can offer them a better deal. In some cases, there are better deals available for existing customers and in some cases there aren't.
For customers who do want to look at the entire marketplace, there are services that are regulated by the CRU, such as bonkers.ie. We can show you the full range of tariffs from all 14 energy suppliers in one place with our energy comparison tool.
Customers can decide if they want to pay by direct debit or not, if they want to manage their bills online or not, etc. There’s a whole choice of tariffs available and there’s never been more choice in the market.
You only need a few things on hand to make the switch within a few minutes:
- A GPRN number if switching gas and an MPRN number if switching electricity
- A recent meter reading
- A good estimate of how much energy you use
- Some personal details
Read our helpful guide on what you need to switch suppliers for further information.
Get in touch with us
If you have any questions about the recent spate of price increases or switching energy supplier, let us know and we’d be happy to help.