Consumers warned against relying on estimated meter readings in the face of rising energy prices

HOUSEHOLDERS have been encouraged to submit meter readings ahead of upcoming price increases to avoid overpaying for rising energy bills.

Around half of electricity customers do not transmit a meter reading.

Consumers have been warned that if they end up receiving an estimated bill but later find out they have used more energy than the estimate, they will be billed for the units owed at the most current rate.

This updated price is likely to be much higher as suppliers have announced huge price increases, said price comparison site’s Daragh Cassidy.

He said households often underestimate their consumption, which reflected the estimated bills.

SSE Airtricity will increase electricity and gas prices from the beginning of next month.

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Electricity consumption increases by 24 percent, adding an additional €338 to the typical annual household bill.

Gas is up 32.3 percent, adding €333 to the typical annual bill.

The move affects around 250,000 electricity customers and 85,000 gas customers.

ESB’s Electric Ireland, which has 1.1 million electricity customers, is driving up electricity and gas prices in May.

This means that average electricity bills will increase by €300 and gas bills by €220 over a year for the average customer.

The increase means that Electric Ireland’s average cost of electricity has increased by €500 over the last 18 months.

Bord Gáis Energy will increase prices by up to 39 percent from April 25. This step will increase the average electricity bill by €385 and the gas bill by €390 over a year.

Energia is increasing its electricity and gas prices by 15% from April 25, which will cost the average electricity customer an additional €247 per year.

Mr Cassidy said ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland aim to take electricity and gas meter readings every few months to measure how much energy has been used.

However, if the meter reader cannot access the meter, an estimate is used.

“Estimates are not always accurate and sometimes suppliers can underestimate usage.

“In this case, utilities will bill a household for the units consumed at a later date, after an actual meter reading has been taken.

“However, households will be billed for the units owed at the most current rate,” Cassidy said.

Figures from the regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, show that 52 percent of electricity customers and 46 percent of gas customers have not reported their meter reading in the last 12 months.

Mr Cassidy said: “Unless you provide your utility company with regular meter readings some of your gas and electricity bills will be based on an estimate of your consumption which may or may not be very accurate.

“That means you may be overpaying for energy that you haven’t used.

“Or worse, you end up underpaying and face a hefty back-payment bill in a few months when your supplier finally finds out.” Consumers warned against relying on estimated meter readings in the face of rising energy prices

Fry Electronics Team

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