You’ve probably read the headlines – gas prices are expected to soar around the world and increase by as much as 22 per cent in Ireland during October.
The savvy among you will quickly reach for your latest bills and start examining your monthly usage before heading to comparison websites to calculate whether you could save money by switching to another tariff. However, with price wars breaking out among energy companies, how can you be sure you’re finding a good deal?
Currently in Ireland, customers can choose between several gas and electricity companies – such as Electric Ireland, Bord Gais Energy, Flogas and Airtricity. The competition means that prices should come down and services should improve – when the market was de-regulated, Airtricity and Bord Gais immediately offered tariffs at 12 per cent and 14 per cent below their regulated charges.
However, prices are constantly changing, so unless you’re locked into a contract you should review your bills and switch to better deals as often as possible. Don’t assume that just because the company you are with offered the best deal last year, it will still offer the best deal this year. Comparison websites can certainly help and now CER has launched a system for accrediting websites that compare energy prices so that only those that meet its standards will receive its hallmark.
Many energy companies offer their cheapest deals through online tariffs. This could mean that you switch from a quarterly deal to a monthly direct debit offering – with further price reductions if you’re willing to exclude paper billing, for example. It’s also worth checking out websites that offer utility bill voucher codes, such as Moneysaver.ie – as there may be more money to be saved.
Check your consumption
In addition to shopping around for a better deal, take a closer look at your energy use and see if there are ways you could cut down to save on your bills.
There are many ways to reduce energy that involve a significant financial outlay. For example, investing in loft and cavity wall insulation and double glazing should help you reduce your bills – however, you may have to pay out a significant sum upfront. However, there are small changes that can be made too which will quickly add up. For example, you can use energy saving light bulbs; only boil as much water as you need every time you want a cup of tea or coffee; take showers instead of baths; close the fridge door after every use; and regularly defrost your freezer.
However, above all, make sure that you don’t put off switching to cheaper gas and electricity deals – and while you’re at it, compare prices and look for voucher codes on products such as insurance, broadband and mobile phones too.