Energy price hikes could shake up the market – six in ten consumers say an increase would make them switch
- Seven energy price hikes announced for this winter to date – adding up to 5.9% or €57 to the average household electricity bill and up to 3.4% or €25 to the average gas bill
- New research shows six in ten consumers (62%) say that a price increase would encourage them to end their contract with a utility provider, while two-thirds (64%) say they’d switch if they got a better deal elsewhere
- These suppliers account for over nine in ten domestic electricity accounts – their price hikes could bring about a spike in switching
- With €362 difference between cheapest and typical standard tariffs in the market there’s every reason to shop around.
Recent price hike announcements from Ireland’s biggest energy suppliers could lead to a spike in switching, according to new research from independent price comparison and switching service Switcher.ie.
Price increases from Bord Gáis Energy and SSE Airtricity were introduced on 1 November, while Energia, Flogas, Pinergy and PrePayPower’s hikes come into force on 1 December. Meanwhile, Electric Ireland’s will be effective from 1 February 2018.
The electricity increases that have been announced will add between €31 and €57 onto the average household electricity bill, while the gas increases will add up to €25 to the average gas bill. They are the first price rises in Ireland in three years, during which time consumer switching levels remained fairly static. However, this might be about to change, with over six in ten (62%) consumers saying that a price increase would encourage them to leave their supplier.
On top of this, new measures from the CRU – including the ‘30 Days’ Notice’ and the ‘Annual Prompt’ – should also promote competition and help to drive switching. The 30 Days’ Notice will be issued to consumers before their discounted period ends, much like a renewal notice for insurance, while energy suppliers will also be required to issue an Annual Prompt to all customers who have remained on the same tariff for 3 years or more – this prompt will continue to issue every 12 months until that customer has changed tariff.
Already in 2017 the number of customers switching gas is up on last year – from 22,946 in Q2 2016 to 30,876 in the same quarter of 2017. The CRU attributes this rise in gas switching to PrePayPower entering the gas domestic market and a number of existing suppliers providing a new pay-as-you-go (PAYG) offering; there has been an 800% increase in gas lifestyle PAYG installations from last year.
However, the electricity data tells a different story, with a 10% decrease in switching levels, down from 81,920 switches in Q2 2016 to 73,467 in Q2 2017. The same report shows that almost four in five electricity customers (78.74%) who are on one of the top 10 plans in the market are on standard plans.
With the new findings showing that two-thirds (64%) of consumers say they’d switch if they got a better deal elsewhere, the market could start to see many of those languishing on expensive standard tariffs starting to take advantage of one of the many discounted plans on the market.
However, previous research has shown that three in five (59%) people said that they had previously thought about switching utility provider but didn’t switch in the end, for a range of reasons, like not wanting to get tied into a contract, or being unable to tell if a new supplier would save them money. The good news is that, despite the price hikes, there’s every reason to shop around – an average dual fuel customer on typical standard tariffs can save up to €362 by switching to the cheapest deals in the market.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “We’re well into winter time now, which is when household energy usage peaks. Over nine in ten electricity customers are going to be impacted by the electricity price hikes, which is really going to take its toll at this time of year, and two gas suppliers have also announced increases.
“Energy switching levels in Ireland have remained fairly static over the past number of years but that could all be about to change. Most of us say we’d switch if prices went up, or if we could get a better deal elsewhere. The fact now is that the vast majority of consumers in Ireland are going to see the cost of their energy going up over the next few months.
“The average dual fuel customer can save up to €362 by switching from a typical standard tariff to the cheapest deals on the market – and some suppliers are offering additional benefits like cashback, welcome credit, loyalty card points, and discounted or free smart thermostats on some plans too. Consumers can also make savings on their energy bills by taking some simple measures around the home. The important thing is that people don’t simply sit back and take these price hikes, especially when a few minutes’ effort could put hundreds back in their pockets.”
Switching is quick, easy and free. Switcher.ie’s free gas and electricity comparison tool can help consumers get started – comparing deals and making a switch only takes around 5 minutes.
For more information, visit Switcher.ie
For further information please contact:
Maeve McLaughlin, Switcher.ie on 01 517 5922/087 133 2526 or email@example.com
Images for use are available on Flickr here.
Notes to editors
 Summary of price increases from energy suppliers:
*Euro amounts are inclusive of VAT and rounded to the nearest euro. Figures are based off an average customer on a standard tariff and were provided in suppliers’ statements. **This is approximate, based off an average annual bill of €1,115.
 In response to the question: ”Which would make you end your contract with any of your utility suppliers/providers? Mischarging/problem with my bill, Bad customer service, Price increase, Lack of trust, Lack of communication, Supplier doesn’t meet my needs, Better deal elsewhere, Other supplier recommended to me, Other, None of the above – ending a contract is too much hassle.”
 Source: CRU – Electricity and Gas Retail Markets Report Q2 2017
 Source: Switcher.ie – How does Switcher calculate its savings messages?
 Source: Switcher.ie – Bord Gáis Energy price hike – gas and electricity prices to rise from 1 November
 Source: Switcher.ie – Blow for consumers as SSE Airtricity announces 5.6% increase to its electricity rates
 Source: Switcher.ie – Another energy price rise is on the way – Flogas gas prices to increase by 3.3% from December
 Source: Source: Switcher.ie – Electric Ireland latest energy supplier to hike prices – electricity prices to increase by 4% from February
 Source: CRU – Review of the Suppliers’ Handbook
 In response to the question: “Has there ever been a time in the past when you were thinking of switching provider of a utility but did not switch in the end?”
 In response to the question: “The following are a list of reasons that some people have given for not going through with switching a utility provider. Can you please indicate which of the following has stopped you from switching a provider in the past? I did not want to get tied into a contract/ pay a deposit to start the contract, There was no point switching as all suppliers are the same, I could not tell if the product offered by the new supplier was the same as the product offered by my old supplier – comparing products was too difficult, I was frightened of losing my service/getting cut off, I couldn’t tell if a new supplier would save me money, I didn’t know where to get the information in order to switch, Switching seemed like too much hassle.”
Research was carried out for Switcher.ie by Coyne Research in April 2017, involving 1,000 online interviews with Irish adults aged 18+years. The total sample is representative of the national population in Ireland.
Best energy deals on the market
The cheapest electricity deal on the market is Energia’s ‘Cheapest Electricity (33% discount)’ tariff at €794.78 per year. The tariff is €176.78 a year cheaper when compared to the typical standard electricity tariff.
The cheapest gas deal on the market is Flogas’s ‘25% Direct Debit Discount’ tariff at €595.97per year. The tariff is €184.83 a year cheaper when compared to the typical standard gas tariff.
The cheapest dual fuel deal on the market is Energia’s ‘Cheapest Dual Fuel 29/28’ tariff at €1,428.65 per year. The tariff is €277.98 a year cheaper when compared to the standard gas and electricity tariffs.
Best deals when cashback is included
Depending on your consumption, plans with cashback may be an attractive option.
When you take into account cashback, Electric Ireland’s ‘Value Saver (Direct Debit and Online Billing)’ tariff comes in at €757 (after the €175 the online switching bonus) for an average electricity customer.
Electric Ireland’s ‘Standard Domestic Gas (Direct Debit & Online Billing)’ tariff comes in at €527.74 (after the €175 online switching bonus) for an average gas customer.
With regards to dual fuel, if you switch to Energia’s ‘Cheapest Dual Fuel 29/28’ tariff directly through their website, it comes in at €1,354.21 per year (after €50 cashback).
Source: Switcher.ie. Savings message based on the national average consumption. According to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), the average Irish household uses 11,000 kW/h of gas and 4,200 kW/h of electricity per year. Calculation based on Urban 24 electricity tariff. Price includes PSO levy, Carbon Tax and 13.5% VAT.
Switcher.ie launched in January 2013, with the aim of offering consumers free, independent and impartial price comparison and switching services for gas, electricity, home broadband and digital television. Switcher.ie aims to make it easier for Irish households to compare prices, save money on their regular bills, get the best deals on offer and make their hard-earned money go that bit further. Switcher.ie is accredited by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities as an impartial, accurate and independent supplier of domestic energy price comparisons and is a member of Guaranteed Irish.
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