Families that sign up for prepaid electricity meters can end up paying significantly more for their electricity than those that purchase directly from electricity providers.
Presently, there are two companies that sell prepaid electricity meters in the Irish market:
Pre Pay Power
The pre paid electricity model is a relatively simple one. Instead of getting one’s electricity from the traditional providers in the market, consumers have a special meter installed in their homes. These special electricity meters work a lot like a mobile phone top-up service, where credit is purchased and then used to ‘top up’ the electricity account.
To avail of the pre paid service, consumers must first have a technician install a special electricity meter in the home which PrePay Power and Pinergy will facilitate.
So far, so good.
What consumers need to be aware of:
1. They will be locked into one electricity provider – in the case of Pinergy and Pre Pay Power, both companies advertise that they will match Electric Ireland Standard Electricity Price Plan. So, tough luck if another provider in the market comes out with a significantly reduced price plan.
2. The daily account charge is really expensive – at 37.5 cents per day, this will add up to a whopping €137 per year. For an average family, this can equate to almost 14% of the annual electricity spend and up to 20% if one uses the new personal insolvency rules as a guide.
“These devices are expensive and consumers will be locked in to one electricity provider” said Mr. Frank Conway, Founder of the Irish Financial Review.
Mr. Conway advises consumers take some simple steps such as having a building energy rating carried out on their homes to see if it is as energy efficient as it could be.
“Consumers looking to reduce their electricity bills could take some simple steps, such as checking that their windows are draft free and attics are property insulated. These are major areas of heat loss from homes” said Mr. Conway.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (www.seai.ie) provides a lot of useful energy use tips and information which consumers may access free of charge.
“This website also provides a lot of really useful consumer tips” said Mr. Conway.
Consumers can access the 12 practical tips to keeping electricity costs under control.