There seems to be a new energy price horror story every week.
With each story, households across the country are scrambling to get a handle on increases they know will continue through the fall and winter. While it may seem like we’re getting out of control, there’s still a lot we can do to manage our bills. Here’s what we know:
There are 10 electricity and 6 gas providers as some smaller operators have exited the market, reducing choice for customers. It is possible that more will follow. The global oil suppliers and countries (including Russia) with pipelines are more likely to benefit from the current price hike than the companies here (although they certainly earn enough).
This was an energy-saving, if not a money-saving, budget. The bulging state coffers helped. Here’s the bottom:
Starting in November, every household will receive an energy credit of 600 euros, payable in three billing cycles. Like last time, it simply appears as a payment on your bill. It’s not means test. You don’t have to do anything.
Fuel Allowance recipients (€33 per week, strictly means-tested) receive a one-off payment of €400. The middle band was raised slightly to allow more people to qualify; If you think this is the case contact your local welfare office (www.welfare.ie).
There are also increases in the single living allowance (€200 payment) and all social benefits, including pensions, from €12 a week, with a double week to be paid both this month and as usual at Christmas. Many older people will simply use that extra money to fund their increased electricity, gas or oil usage, but as they say, every little bit helps.
The PSO surcharge has been scrapped for this year, saving €51.60, as has the large business subsidy (€40 pa), but increased network charges will largely offset this.
Customers with pay-as-you-go meters will be charged higher rates. Meters are running out sooner than before and this is a very real price as many households with regular bills have yet to receive their higher charges after a warm summer. But they will.
Meters are difficult to monitor as they simply don’t provide enough data on usage, households and customer situation. However, regulator CRU has sought “assurances” from suppliers that they will deny access to those who cannot afford to charge.
So-called “vulnerable” customers (e.g. if they need power for medical equipment) cannot be cut off if they register with their supplier. But many more households will fall into arrears, so much needs to be done to give these customers options.
Switching isn’t open to everyone (some apartments or group programs may not be allowed), but if it is, it’s definitely something to consider. First, find out what you have so you can properly compare the competition.
Bonkers.ie’s Daragh Cassidy says the best way to do this is to find out how much you’ve used over the past 12 months (call your provider and ask what their tariff is while you’re at it). If it’s “Standard”, you’re probably overpaying.
You will need your MPRN (top right side of your utility bill) and/or GPRN (gas) and a current meter reading to notify the new provider.
Once you have your actual known usage, you can enter that information into comparison sites like Bonkers or Switcher.ie and get cheaper alternatives. The mover takes about 10 minutes. No one shouts or digs a hole in your wall. If you sign up for paperless billing, you can get a discount. Pick up freebies like surveillance equipment and get money back if offered.
The nationwide deployment of meters is underway and is expected to be completed in 2024. If you’re one of the lucky 900,000, you can take advantage of real-time information on consumption and which devices are using the most energy (see the board for the main culprits). Just knowing this can be transformative; it was at my house anyway.
Smart meters cannot be activated remotely; You’ll need to call your provider to switch them to the Smart plan once it’s set up. This is not often recognized – only 4 percent of people have done so, due to very poor information from vendors, the ESB rollout team and the regulator.
The Usage Time feature means that you are charged different rates at different times of the day. More during say 5-7pm but less at other times. It has its detractors, but I benefited from having mine and knowing what I’m using on a real-time chart every day.
With the Greens in government and ambitious climate change pledges signed, ever-higher carbon taxes would be introduced next year, as evidenced in the Budget Day announcement.
A 900 liter tank of heating oil will cost 19.41 euros more from May 2023, and the natural gas bill will cost around 16.98 euros more each year.
How to check
It’s the little things, a politician once said, that trip you up. It’s also the little things that can save the most energy:
– Read your meter. Unless you have a smart meter, you’ll need to send in readings to avoid estimated bills. Otherwise, you could be charged a higher rate than you actually have, meaning you’re paying for electricity you haven’t used. Inaccuracies are eventually picked up, earning you a massive catch-up bill. 52 percent of electricity customers have not submitted a meter reading in the last 12 months, says the CRU.
– Not all devices are the same. Fast heating devices, especially with water, use the most energy, so showers, soaking baths, clothes dryers and hair dryers are expensive. Microwaves, vacuum cleaners and LED light bulbs are cheap.
– Vampire devices cost a fortune. Unplug unused devices such as lights, TVs, cell phones and PCs instead of leaving them on standby. Use an extension cord and disconnect at once.
– Turn off faucets or showers while brushing/soaping; only fully load in machines; Boil only the water you need and use the right sized pot (that completely covers the plate) when cooking.
– Make the hooded blanket your Fall Winter 2022 fashion statement. M&S range from €23-€35, Dunnes €20, Guineys €24.00, Very €24.99.
– Buy a draft excluder, $9.99 Home Store & More, or make one by stuffing old pantyhose into a pantyhose.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/how-to-budget-your-way-through-the-coming-winters-gas-and-electricity-bills-as-fuel-prices-surge-42049527.html Here’s how to plan your way through the coming winter’s gas and electricity bills as fuel prices soar