The cost of gas and electricity is now widely regarded to be the second most costly household utility expense after mortgage repayments. The average household energy bill in Ireland is €2,067 per year.
With energy and other household costs being as high as they are, consumers should be extra vigilant when it comes to assessing their utility bills.
What are the reasons behind my household bill being so high?
1. Is the bill an estimated one and not actual?
There is a good chance that the high bill amount could be based on an estimated meter reading and not the actual one. So, if the bill amount is not what you expected or estimated, you should make sure to double check it.
A bill that has ‘estimate’ or ‘e’ written alongside the number of units implies that it is an estimated one and it is likely to be incorrect. If this is the case, you can provide your energy supplier with the meter-reading and get a new bill.
2. Does the amount still look incorrect despite the meter reading being right?
If the meter-reading tallies with the amount mentioned in the bill and you still feel it is unusually high (or low), it’s time to analyse your electricity usage. Think of the changes in your energy consumption that may have happened in your home since your last reading.
Have you bought a new appliance or has the weather outside turned suddenly cold, making you to use the heaters extensively? Spending more time at home could also be one of the main causes for higher power consumption. Each of these factors has an impact on your household bill.
It’s a good idea to install an energy monitor that would help you analyse the power usage of various appliances.
3. Which type plan are you on?
Customers who pay by Direct Debit and sign-up to online billing or online account management typically receive discounts from their energy supplier. If you are on your energy supplier standard tariff you will most likely be paying their highest unit rate. If you are it’s time to compare the various energy plans in Ireland and take up the most cost efficient one.
4. Are you still receiving discounts?
An introductory energy plan discount that you’d been availing of might have ended, and your household bills could have skyrocketed as a result. This is quite a common occurrence for people and it can potentially lead to a big shock when you see your first energy bill after the discount has ended.
Be sure to check out the deals available by comparing the various prices for electricity and gas and opt for the smarter and cheaper plan in the long run.
5. What if the bill is correct and the plan you’re on is the cheapest one as well?
There’s no need to worry as there is a solution for this too.
How can I reduce my household bills?
- You can cut your bills by being more efficient with your energy - take a look at our energy efficient guides.
- It’s a great idea to find out about various energy-saving devices.
- If the high household bills are a source of worry for you, there is no need to panic. Most energy suppliers in Ireland are open to arranging a repayment plan, making it easier for you to pay your bills on a more gradual basis.
- Installing a new energy-efficient home insulation system or a boiler could be hard on the pocket, but these options can help reduce your energy bills in the long run.
- You can even apply for the an energy-efficient grant through the SEAI better energy home scheme which can assist with the cost of household bills, by providing cash incentives for home improvements. This could help you to reduce your energy bills, and also help contribute to a cleaner and all round greener environment.
Could I be eligible for any allowances to help with my energy bills?
There are a number of allowances available to eligible customers in Ireland. You should take a look at these and see if you’re eligible for any of them, as they could help you with the cost of your electricity and fuel.
What is the Fuel Allowance?
The Fuel Allowance is a payment under Ireland’s National Fuel Scheme to help pensioners and other low-income households with the cost of heating their homes during the winter months.
It is means tested, and is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The Department of Social Protection has all of the information you’ll need in order to see if you qualify.
If you are eligible for the Fuel Allowance, it is paid along with social welfare payments on the day you are usually paid, but in 2017 - for the first time - you’ll also have the option of taking €22.50 weekly, or the total allowance of €585 paid in 2 lump sums.
The Fuel Allowance is normally paid for 26 weeks of the year - over the coldest months - and for the 2017-2018 Fuel Allowance season, the first payments will be made on the week of 2 October.
What is the Household Benefits Package?
The Household Benefits Package is a package of allowances which aims to help consumers with the costs of running their household.
The package is available to everyone aged over 70 - and to people under age 70 in certain circumstances - and includes either an Electricity Allowance or a Natural Gas Allowance.
If you’re eligible, you’ll get €35 per month, which in most cases will be paid to your bank or post office account, depending on your supplier. However, if you’re a customer of Electric Ireland or Bord Gåis Energy, the allowance will be paid directly to your supplier and they’ll deduct it from your bills.
The allowance is administered by the Department of Social Protection, and if you switch energy supplier, you will need to notify the Department of this change - and provide proof in the form of a utility bill - so that they are aware of how to pay the allowance to you.