Lots of us are still missing out on cheaper gas and electricity deals

Switching numbers are still low, and those who do switch are reverting to standard rates after the initial discount ends.

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 4th August, 2016

Last week, the Commission for Energy Regulation released its Electricity & Gas Retail Markets Report for Q1 2016.

This report, which comes out quarterly, outlines levels of switching. market share, and offers from main suppliers throughout the quarter - and it makes for an interesting read.

Switching and renegotiation levels

From January to March, almost 80,000 customers switched their electricity, which is up 1.2% on the same quarter in 2015. In the same period, over 25,000 customers switched gas supplier - a decrease of 6% on the same quarter in 2015.

The report also has some information on the number of renegotiations by electricity and gas customers, which shows how many people got a new deal with their current supplier. In March of this year, 14,982 electricity customers and 3,519 gas customers renegotiated their contracts.

Although these numbers look good, when you consider the fact that there are over 2 million electricity customers - and almost 650,000 gas customers - in the country, the percentage of people who are switching or renegotiating their deals is still small.

This means that lots of us are missing out on cheaper tariffs and the opportunity to save up to €360 per year. New deals are coming onto the market all the time, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out and switching if you find a deal to suit you.

New deals and price cuts

The report contains some information on recent price cuts. According to the report, between Q1 and Q2 2016:

  • Electric Ireland reduced its electricity standard unit charge by 6%;
  • PrePayPower reduced its standard unit charge by 4.1%; and
  • SSE reduced its standard gas and electricity unit rates and standing charge by 5%.

The data shows that around one in five (22.08%) of domestic electricity customers are on electricity plans with some level of discounts.

The CER has said that discounts of between 1% and 26% are available to electricity customers, but that most electricity customers are on discounts of just 1 - 5%. This would include ongoing discounts for paying bills by direct debit, receiving online bills etc.

In terms of gas customers, around 2 in 5 (40.44%) are on plans with some level of discount. Again, the majority of gas customers on discounted plans receive discounts of between 1 - 5%.

Reverting to standard tariff

The report highlights an issue which we should all consider - that is, that 86% of electricity customers who switched supplier in the past year reverted to a standard tariff when their discount period ends.

This means that, even if you switched to a new provider or deal this time last year, it’s likely you’re no longer getting the reduced rate you signed up to, as most of these last for 12 months.

It is worth checking when you signed up for your contract, and how long the discount lasts. Then, when the discount period ends, you should shop around again to find a new deal.

Switch and save: Compare gas and electricity deals