Is switching energy supplier worthwhile this winter? - Midwest Radio
We’re hearing of nothing but price increases for energy customers in recent months and there have been over 30 energy price hikes since the beginning of the year. This has left many wondering if it’s worthwhile switching from one company to another, as they all seem to be raising prices.
Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, Daragh Cassidy, appeared on Midwest Radio to discuss whether switching utility suppliers is worthwhile, the steps involved in switching and cancellation fees.
Listen back to the full interview above, where Sky’s recent price hike was also discussed, or take a look at the main points about the energy crisis below.
Are we wasting our time switching suppliers?
Absolutely not! Our mantra at bonkers.ie has always been that switching saves and it’s now more important than ever, but you’re right about prices going up across the board.
Particularly with energy, households will be in for a big bill shock as energy prices are on the rise for numerous reasons. We’ve seen over 35 price hike announcements this year and some suppliers have raised their prices five times.
The average household is looking at paying around €700-800 more for their annual energy bills, and some will be paying even more.
It does still pay to switch though because you’ll get a new customer discount. All energy suppliers offer really good deals and discounts to entice customers to switch. Those discounts usually last for one year and can be as high as 40%.
So even though prices are going up, switching is vital this winter.
How easy is it to switch?
Switching gas and electricity are probably the easiest household bills to switch. The reason for this is because we all use the same network. When you switch your gas or electricity, all you’re doing is changing supplier. You’re not getting any new pipes or pylons installed, or returning any equipment.
It’s quick and easy and can all be done online. It only takes a few minutes and at the moment someone could save anywhere between €500-600 a year. However some customers who are switching from one of the most expensive to one of the cheapest deals could end up saving over €1,000-1,500.
What do you need to switch?
There are only a few things you need to make the switch. These include:
- For switching gas, you need to have your GPRN number. For switching electricity, you need to have your MPRN number. These numbers help identify your property and are unique to your household. You can find them on a recent bill.
- A recent meter reading.
- An estimate of how much energy you use each month or year, either in kWh or in euro.
- Some personal details.
Read our helpful guide on what you need to switch suppliers for further information.
Is there any benefit in haggling with your existing energy supplier?
You can definitely try to ring up and negotiate with your existing energy supplier, although we find that these retention deals aren’t quite as good as the new customer deals that you can get.
Gas and electricity are so simple to switch, I almost wouldn’t bother trying to phone up and haggle.
What if your new supplier increases prices again?
There’s nothing to stop your new supplier from increasing prices again.
When Bord Gáis Energy announced its recent price hike a few weeks ago, it did say that it wouldn’t increase prices again until the end of winter. Usually, that means until the start of March. If you did switch to Bord Gáis Energy now you’d know the prices wouldn’t increase again for a few months.
You could switch and prices could go up more, but the thing to remember is that you’ll still be getting a discount. For example, if you were to switch to Electric Ireland from Flogas, you could get a discount of 30-40% on Electric Ireland’s standard rates. So even if prices increased again by 5-10%, it still would generally work out cheaper for you.
Even though the price goes up, you still get a discount. It does pay to switch.
Is there a cancellation fee if you’re still in contract?
If a supplier does increase prices mid-contract and you’re not happy, cancellation fees aren’t huge.
The contract you get is with the discount. It’s a variable rate tariff. If you think of a mortgage, you can have fixed and variable rate tariffs and it’s the same with the energy market.
In Ireland, we only have variable rates at the moment, but fixed-rate deals for gas and electricity are very popular in the UK. They never took off in Ireland for various reasons.
With a variable rate, the price of gas or electricity can go up or down however the discount cannot change. This can cause confusion for customers. Legally your supplier can increase or decrease your price.
With gas and electricity, the cancellation charge is €50 per fuel and if you’re on a dual fuel deal, it’s €100.
With some plans, if you got a freebie with it when you originally signed up, such as an Amazon Echo, the cancellation fee may be a bit higher. The vast majority of times though it’s just €50 per fuel.
For further information take a look at our blog on all you need to know about energy cancellation fees.
Seeking better value
We’re obsessed with the price of our car insurance in this country. If it goes up by €50 upon renewal, we go absolutely insane ringing up and going looking for a better offer. People should bring this obsession with getting a good deal on their car insurance to other bills as well.
Some households are looking at paying €1,000 more for their energy, which is like having your car insurance doubled. If you got a renewal letter saying your car insurance had doubled, you’d freak out and go look for better value.
The clocks have gone back, nights are getting longer and colder, people are putting on the heating. Those energy bills are going to rack up.
What if people aren’t getting the discounts they were promised when they sign up?
There’s so much flux in the market at the moment and so many people are looking to change at the moment, maybe some suppliers’ customer support systems are getting overwhelmed.
Usually the money gets credited to your bill within the first billing cycle. The money doesn’t go into your bank account, it’s not cashback. If there is a delay the money should be credited to your second bill.
Depending on when you sign up within a billing cycle, it could maybe be 6-7 weeks before you get your first bill from your new supplier.
People should hold tight for a few weeks and if they don’t receive their credit by their second bill, then they should look at lodging a formal complaint.
Switch and save on energy
You can easily switch your energy supplier on bonkers.ie. With our energy comparison tool, we do all of the calculations for you. We will tell you out of all 14 energy suppliers who has the cheapest deals for your particular circumstances.
The best deal for you does depend on how you use your energy and if you use a lot at night, etc. We’ll tell you based on your personal usage that you input.
The switch will get processed in the backend, usually within a few days, and then your new supplier will write out to you with their welcome pack and information.
You can learn more about how to compare energy prices in this guide
Get in touch
Do you think it’s worthwhile switching energy supplier this winter? Have you already made the switch? We’d love to hear from you!