Electricity pylon and cables in the night sky

More Irish customers switching energy suppliers for better deals

New report by the CER looked at changing perceptions in the market

Energy customers in Ireland are switching gas and electricity suppliers in search of cheaper energy, according to the Commission for Energy Regulation.

Their report, ‘Findings from 2014 - research on attitudes and experience in the domestic and SME electricity and gas markets in Ireland’, surveyed 1000 gas and 1000 electricity customers and looks at customer perceptions of the energy market.

Rates of gas and electricity switching have increased compared to 2013, but the number of customers switching suppliers remains below 2011/12 peak levels.

Some 16% of domestic electricity customers and 18% of gas customers chose to switch energy suppliers in the previous 12 months.

Reasons for switching supplier

Reasons for switching suppliers were collated, with 87% of electricity customers stating that finding cheaper electricity bills was the primary reason for switching.

Taking advantage of a dual fuel option was listed in 46% of cases, while 44% said they were reacting to a rise from their supplier when choosing to switch.

In terms of gas customers, 85% said they switched gas to get cheaper gas bills while 81% said they expected to get greater savings.

Of the customers who did not switch in the previous 12 months, 56% of electricity customers said they liked the service they received, while 55% said they trusted their supplier.

Reasons for not switching supplier

Some 44% of customers said they had no reason to switch, a similar figure to the number of gas customers who reported the same.

For gas customers, 54% said they liked their current service and 46% said they trusted their existing supplier so saw no need to switch.

The overall ease of the switching process was also measured, with 91% of electricity customers and 90% of gas customers reporting a positive experience.

This is an improvement on 2013 and sees levels return to those recorded in 2012, while satisfaction scores also noted an improvement.

Bill clarity and prepayment options

Bill clarity plays an important part in consumer understanding of how to pay, and the number of customers choosing to prepay increased in 2014.

The electricity market saw 5% more customers choosing this option, with 6% of gas customers opting for energy prepayment options.

One in five customers now receives bills via email – a figure that has increased steadily by about 5% in the last two years.

The number of customers very interested in prepayment options has declined from 2013 in both the electricity and gas markets, although customers may have since switched anyway.

Some 14% of electricity and 12% of gas customers not already on prepayment options revealed some level of interest in prepayment meters, with the proposed benefits of switching all recognised as having a positive effect.