It seems that barely a week goes by without news stories breaking about energy suppliers’ plans to increase their gas and electricity tariffs – and now it is the turn of one of the largest companies in Ireland to increase its own costs.
Bord Gais will increase its electricity by up to 14 per cent and its gas prices by as much as 30 per cent after seeking permission from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). The rises would increase bills by up to €300 a year.
Currently there has been no decision by the CER in relation to gas prices and it will not be consulted on until the end of the month. However, it is a significant blow for consumers following two years of price wars between energy suppliers.
More than 100,000 of Bord Gais’ customers are currently in arrears and while the company has described reports of price increases as “speculative”, it did announce in its annual report in May that it would be looking to raise tariffs on its gas because of an increase in wholesale gas prices – they have jumped by 36 per cent.
Consumer fight back
With gas and electricity prices expected to rise, consumers would be well placed to shop around as soon as possible to find suitable tariffs – finding a fixed rate deal now could potentially save significant amounts of money, as long as consumers remember to switch again when that fixed period ends.
As a general rule, most suppliers offer their most competitive deals as part of online direct debit tariffs. By removing options such as paper billing, suppliers reduce overheads and these savings can be passed on to consumers. In order to find these deals, homeowners should look back over their previous monthly bills to gain an assessment of their average usage and then enter these details, along with their postcode, into a comparison website, which will return information on all the latest offers in that area. By applying utility bill voucher codes consumers can secure further savings before completing their purchase.
In addition, homeowners are advised to look into ways to reduce their energy usage. This could involve making large investments – such as with cavity wall and loft insulation, for which local authority assistance may be available. In addition, some small changes can also save money. For example, consumers can invest in energy saving light bulbs and lagging jackets for their water boilers; while also looking to make small lifestyle changes such as taking showers instead of baths; only boiling as much water as needed each time they use a kettle; and remembering to close the fridge door promptly after each use.
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