Should you switch electricity or gas provider?
September 24, 2015
Do you know how much you are currently paying for your electricity or gas? It is important to know first what you are spending, to understand how much you could save by switching. You will also need to check if you are tied into a contract as this may affect your ability to switch or whether or not you need to pay a cancellation fee. But if you are coming to the end of your existing contract, it may be the perfect time to shop around, switch and save. There are currently a number of electricity and gas providers so you have plenty of choice.
Reviewing your options
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) provides a list of electricity and gas providers with some helpful hints and tips on switching. The CRU also accredits price comparison websites (www.bonkers.ie and www.switcher.ie) which can help you compare your options. The range of offers in this market at the moment is varied – from money off your first bill, to discounts for extended periods and discounted bundled fuel offers etc. Be careful to make your comparison on the long term cost as opposed to solely looking at special offers. Shop around between providers to check which plan works best for you and compare both the unit rate and the standing charge when comparing plans.
How easy is it to switch?
Switching is really easy as there is no interruption to your supply, no-one needs to visit your home and the only noticeable difference is that your bills will come from another company. For more information and FAQ’s visit our page on how to switch.
Will I be tied into a contract if I switch?
Check the terms and conditions of the payment plan you are choosing. Some suppliers do not have a minimum time requirement before you can switch again. Others have fixed term contracts which means you have to stay with that provider for a minimum length of time before you can switch, or a penalty may apply.
Signing up to a service at your doorstep
You may have been contacted by a salesperson from an energy provider at your door. Remember, you have the same rights when you buy something at your doorstep as you do when buying in a shop. You also have additional protection under the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) when you sign up to a contract at your door:
- If a salesperson calls to your door and the service you buy will cost you €50 or more, then you must be given a written cancellation form and a cancellation notice.
- You have the right to cancel the contract within fourteen days when you sign up to a service at your door. This is known as the “cooling-off” period. The fourteen days begins after the ‘contract is concluded’- usually the date you agree to the contract. If you agree to pay and you give your payment details then this is seen as concluding a contract.
- The cooling-off period ends after the fourteen days regardless of whether the service has started or if you have used the service.
How can I save money with my utility provider?
- Consider getting both gas and electricity from the same provider. Some suppliers offer discounts if you get both your gas and electricity from them. However, you may save more by getting electricity from one supplier and natural gas from another, so it is worth comparing different packages.
- Consider paying by direct debit. Most suppliers offer discounts if you pay your bills by direct debit.
- Some providers offer discounts if you are happy to get your bill online instead of by post.
For more energy saving tips visit our page on saving money on electricity and gas.
What if I have problems switching?
You should contact your energy supplier about any problems you are having and give them a chance to find a solution. If you are still having problems, you should make a complaint to your provider. If you are unhappy with the response you get you can take the complaint to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which offers an independent complaint resolution service. However, you must complain to the energy company or network operator first, to give them a chance to fix the problem. If you are still unhappy with any resolution proposed by CRU, you are free to seek legal advice, or, if your claim does not exceed €2,000, you could consider taking a case through the Small Claims process.Return to News