Your guide to prepay electricity

If you’re considering switching to a prepay electricity deal - or just want to find out more about them - we’re here to help.

What is prepay electricity?

Prepay electricity is an alternative option that can meet your energy needs. Essentially, the concept involves pay-as-you-go (PAYG) electricity that is used and paid for at the same time.

Who provides prepay electricity in Ireland?

Pinergy and PrePayPower both specialise in providing prepaid electricity services, while some traditional energy suppliers - such as Electric Ireland - have also introduced some pay as you go tariffs.

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How does prepay electricity work?

Unlike other methods of paying for electricity where payment is usually done bi-monthly or monthly, a PAYG meter requires topping up before energy is used. This means that you cannot use more energy than you can afford.

Essentially, this could be helpful for customers who might find it difficult to monitor and stay in control of their electricity usage. There may be a perception that all prepay electricity costs the same, but actually unit rates vary amongst suppliers and finding the best deal requires a comparison between the suppliers and plans available.

Is prepay electricity more expensive than a standard electricity plan?

Generally, PAYG electricity is more expensive than standard electricity - but there are some benefits to it, that could outweigh the cost difference, for example:

  • More direct control of your electricity costs;
  • No electricity bills, or estimated bills;
  • Easy, hassle-free top up service; and
  • No disconnection or reconnection worries.

Who’s the cheapest prepay electricity supplier on average?

Below is a table of the cheapest PAYG electricity tariffs available based on the national average consumption - according to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the average Irish household uses 4,200 kW/h of electricity per year.

Supplier Plan Name Price  
PrePay Power Pay Upfront €1,079.35 Compare now
Electric Ireland Smarter Pay As You Go €1,180.50 Compare now
Pinergy Standard €1,229 Compare now

Costs involved with prepay electricity deals

As well as the difference in unit rates, there are other costs associated with PAYG electricity which you are not charged with standard electricity deals, for example:

  • Meter installation fees: the cost of installing a prepayment meter; and
  • Prepayment service charges: an annual fixed cost in addition to top up payments.

Switching is straightforward

Switching energy supplier is often wrongly considered to be a complicated and difficult process. In fact, it is very simple.

When comparing deals on, it’s good to have a rough idea of your typical energy usage. Although this is not an essential requirement, using this approach will help you to find the cheapest and best-suited PAYG tariffs for your needs.

After you apply to switch tariffs, your existing supplier will be contacted by your new supplier to process your switch - your new supplier will handle all aspects of the change over.

Concerns about prepay electricity

In the past, prepaid meters required topping up at all hours of the day, however modern meters are much more convenient to use - they work much like topping up mobile phone credit.

As well as this, suppliers who offer prepay electricity services guarantee not to cut customers off at night, at weekends or during the main public holidays. Any funds required to pay for electricity for these periods can simply be added at a later date.

Which electricity supplier is cheapest in Ireland?

If you’re not convinced about prepay electricity and just want to go with the cheapest plan out there, the chances are you will make much bigger savings. At the moment, the average electricity customer can save up to €205 by switching from a typical standard plan to the cheapest deal on the market.

You can find out all about comparing electricity prices and cutting your costs in our dedicated guide.

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