Electricity pylon in green field

Gas and electricity glossary

The Switcher.ie gas and electricity appendix. Find out all you need to know about energy in this quick guide.

Biomass Biomass fuel is a renewable source of fuel derived from plants. It can be used to generate electricity. Biomass boilers and stoves are becoming increasingly popular.

Business plans Businesses often use gas and electricity in larger quantities than personal users. To offer the best value, suppliers sell gas and electricity at rates that suit the needs of business in the form of business plans.

Capped plans By choosing a capped plan, you pay the same amount for energy units over a set period of time. What you pay does not change whether electricity and gas prices rise or fall.

Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is the regulator for the electricity and natural gas sectors in Ireland. The CRU has lots of information for domestic electricity and natural gas consumers.

Direct debit Direct debits are payments that are taken from your bank account when your bill is due. Suppliers usually offer discounts for customers who choose to pay using this option. These discounts can be substantial, making paying by direct debit one of the cheapest ways to pay for your gas and electricity.

Dual fuel Many companies supply both gas and electricity. When you choose to buy your gas and electricity from the same supplier, you use a dual fuel plan. Discounts are often offered to customers who choose this plan.

Estimated bills Estimated bills are different to other price plans in that, rather than measuring the amount of electricity you use, your electricity supplier will estimate monthly levels of consumption. This estimate is based on either your previous usage, or a standard usage. You then pay for the estimated amount every month or quarter. After this period, your electricity supplier will read your meter and tell you how much electricity you have actually used. This usage will provide the basis for your next estimated bill.

Fixed price plan A fixed price plan is similar to a capped plan with the difference that your gas and electricity rates will not increase, or decrease. So if electricity and gas prices become more expensive or less expensive, your rates will not change.

GPRN Your GPRN is your Gas Point Reference Number, which is a unique identifying number for the gas meter at your property. You will need this number if you want to switch gas supplier.

Green energy This comes from either renewable sources or environmentally friendly sources. These can be as diverse as hydro, wind, solar, and biofuels.

Hydro energy This is both renewable and environmentally friendly. It is produced by the power of moving water. Hydroelectric dams are used to harness energy from flowing and/or falling water by the use of rotating turbines. These then run generators that create electricity.

Kilowatt hour (kWh) Kilowatt hours (kWh) are the units which electricity is measured in. One kilowatt hour is 1,000 watts or 1 kilowatt of electricity used in an hour. All electrical appliances are rated by the amount of kilowatts, or watts, that they consume. For example, an appliance that is rated 1 kilowatt, and that is used for an hour, will use up one unit of electricity.

MPRN Your MPRN is your Meter Point Reference Number, which is a unique identifying number for the electricity meter at your property. You will need this number if you want to switch electricity supplier.

Nightsaver meters Making use of a Nightsaver meter can be a great way to cut costs. If you choose to install one in your home, any electricity used during designated night time hours will be provided at a lower rate. In order to make the best use of this device, you will need to be using around 20% of your electricity consumption at night.

Nil service charge / No Standing Charge While some plans charge you a standing charge for each day that you are connected to their company’s network, this plan means you only pay for the gas and electricity that you consume. For the benefit of not having to pay a service charge, you may be charged more per unit.

Online plans Online plans are gas and electricity plans that you manage through the internet. While some plans will only operate through the internet, many will allow customers to continue to receive paper bills in the post.

Prepayment meters With prepayment meters, you only pay for your gas and electricity when you use it. There is no service charge. It may appear to be a good option for budgeting, but research has found that prepayment meters can be more expensive than cheaper online plans.

Renewable energy This is energy that is sourced from a resource that does not run out. Unlike fossil fuels, sources like the sun, water and wind constantly renew themselves. This can also come from plants.

Solar powered energy This is derived from the sun. It is often used to heat water and can also be used to generate electricity through solar panels.

Standard plans If you do not choose any specific electricity or gas plan, you will have a standard plan. They are usually more expensive than other plans.

Standing charge Standing charges are fixed charges for every day you are connected to the suppliers’ network.

Tiers These are tier based bills. If you use a plan without a fixed charge, your payment rates are tiered. This means you pay one price for energy units up to a certain amount of consumption, and another price for anything over that amount.

Wind A popular renewable source of electricity produced by wind.