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Households miss out on savings as less consumers switch energy

Survey found decrease rates of energy switches, but Ireland still has one of the highest switching rates in EU

Recent figures from a survey published by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) found that 12% of electricity customers and 16% of gas customers have switched suppliers in the last 12 months.

This is a decrease from the previous year, but Ireland still has one of the highest switching rates in the EU.

The survey found that the typical behaviour by both electricity and gas customers is to automatically continue on with their supplier when the initial 12 month contract has expired, especially if they have not switched in past 12 months.

The main reasons cited in the survey for customers not switching their supplier were trust and satisfaction with service.

Of those who did switch supplier, 89% reported very high levels of overall satisfaction with the electricity and gas switching process.

Electricity switching via the phone has increased compared with 2014, but the majority of switches, 55% of electricity switches and 65% of gas switches, happened via a doorstep sale.

The survey also found that 86% of respondents were happy with their current electricity supplier; and 88% of respondents were happy with their current gas supplier. This is a reverse of the declines across all suppliers noted in 2014.

The decreased switching levels and high satisfaction levels may be attributed to the low awareness of offers in both the electricity and gas domestic markets, as the survey also found.

Approximately half of the survey respondents claimed not to be aware of offers such as unit price discounts for fixed term contracts, percentage reductions, and loyalty scheme benefits.

Within the domestic electricity market, current customers of PrePayPower show the greatest awareness of offers, while current customers of Electric Ireland have the lowest awareness.

In the domestic gas market, Flogas customers show the greatest awareness of offers, while current customers of Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland are less likely to be aware of what offers are currently on the market.

The CER’s Commissioner Aoife MacEvilly, said: “The CER is encouraged by the strong competition in energy supply and by the reduction in disconnections for non-payment of bills. We encourage all energy consumers to consider regularly switching, or at least asking their current supplier if a better tariff is available, as there are savings to be had.”

Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “We would urge consumers to make their money go further by taking steps to ensure that they are paying the lowest prices for the energy they use. Households can easily achieve a valuable saving just by moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to a more competitively priced deal. Our research tells us that an average energy user can save up to €320 just by switching energy supplier alone.”

The findings from the 2015 research on attitudes and experiences in the domestic and SME electricity and gas markets in Ireland prepared on behalf of the Commission for Energy Regulation can be found here.

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