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Gas and electricity glossary

Confused about some of the terminology used by energy suppliers and on your energy bills? Our glossary can help.

*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.

Consumption/usage This is the amount of kWh units you use during your billing period. If there is an ‘E’ beside this on your energy bill, your usage has been estimated, while if your meter was read, your bill will say so and/or there will be an ‘A’ (for ‘actual’) beside the consumption listed on your bill.

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Direct Debit Direct debits are payments that are taken from your bank account when your bill is due, if you choose an energy plan with this payment option. Suppliers usually offer discounts for customers who choose to pay by Direct Debit. These discounts can be substantial, which means direct debit is one of the cheapest ways to pay energy bills.

Dual fuel Many companies supply both gas and electricity. When you choose to buy your gas and electricity from the same supplier, this is known as a dual fuel plan. Depending on your usage, you may make extra savings if you choose this kind of plan.

Estimated bills Estimated bills are bills that are based off an estimate of your gas and electricity consumption, instead of your actual usage. The estimate will either be based on your previous usage, or a standard usage. ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland are responsible for reading electricity and gas meters in Ireland. Meters are generally read four times a year, so you will usually receive at least two estimated bills each year.

Fixed price plan Fixed rate plans are not that common in Ireland, but there are a few on offer. With a fixed-rate energy deal your unit rate and standing charge are set for the period of your contract, meaning price hikes won’t impact you during this time. Fixed-rate plans are usually not the cheapest ones on the market, but their main benefit is that they could offer you some peace of mind and protection against any potential price hikes for the duration of your contract.

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 is energy that comes from either renewable sources or environmentally friendly sources, including hydro, wind, solar, and biofuels. There are a number of suppliers in Ireland offering green energy, including Energia and SSE Airtricity.

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.

Meter reading If you receive an estimated bill, you can provide your energy supplier with a meter reading to ensure you’re charged for your actual - rather than estimated - usage.

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 If you have a Nightsaver meter, 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.

Online billing Online plans are gas and electricity plans that you manage via a dedicated area on your supplier’s website. This area will allow you to view bills and submit meter readings.

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

PSO Levy The PSO Levy is a set government charge that all residential electricity customers must pay - it is used to cover the additional costs associated with producing sustainable and renewable energy in Ireland. This Levy currently amounts to €92.28 (ex. VAT) per year. On 1 October 2018, the Levy will reduce to €41.76 per year.

Renewable energy This is energy that is sourced from a resource that does not run out, for example solar, water and wind energy.

Standard tariff The majority of consumers in Ireland are on standard energy tariffs, which tend to have the highest unit rates in the market. When you switch, you will normally be put on a discounted tariff for a year, so if you’ve been with your supplier longer than this, you will have reverted to a standard tariff by now and could save by switching.

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Standing charge Standing charges are fixed charges for every day you are connected to the suppliers’ network. You will see this charge on your bill.

Tiers If you’re on an energy 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.

Unit rate This is the rate you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you use. The rate you pay depends on which tariff you are on.