04 Nov 2016

Throughout Energy Week 2016 Choice have been providing customers with information on how to switch energy suppliers. If you’re not going to get a chance to visit us at one of our Energy Roadshows then have a look at the Energy section of our website for further information on switching your energy supplier.

All electricity consumers in Northern Ireland, and natural gas consumers in Greater Belfast may be able to switch supplier. With the right information and advice, switching can be a quick and hassle free experience. Switching your energy supplier could not only save you money but you may also receive a better service.

Switching your Electricity Supplier!

There are now six electricity suppliers to choose from and it’s worth comparing the options to make sure you’re on the best rate.

If you’ve changed supplier in the last year or two then it would be best to check your existing contract terms in case you are tied in for a period of time, but normally if that’s not the case and you don’t have outstanding debt then switching is easy.  A quick way to identify savings would be to compare suppliers using a service such as the one offered by The Consumer Council at http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/electricity-gas-price-comparison. Other comparison websites are available and we would always advise our customers to check any prices quoted directly with suppliers, just in case there have been any recent changes.  To switch you normally need to give your details and a meter reading from your home and your new supplier will look after the rest.

You could also consider changing the way in which you pay for your electricity by changing to either a keypad meter (where you top up electricity using a card) or a Credit meter (where you receive bills).  If you’re choosing to receive bills you can sometimes receive cheaper rates by choosing to pay via direct debit and have paperless billing.

More information can be found in our energy saving guide – Save Energy, Money and the Environment, available to download at https://www.choice-housing.org/energy .

Switching your Natural Gas Supplier!

At present in Greater Belfast (which includes areas such as Belfast, Lisburn, Larne, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Bangor, Holywood, Newtownards and Comber), domestic natural gas is available from two suppliers, and in the “Ten Towns” area of Northern Ireland only one supplier is available, although this market is also set to open to increased competition. Natural Gas is also intended to be more widely available in Northern Ireland in coming years, with Gas networks being developed in parts of Co. Fermanagh, Co. Tyrone and Co. Down.

Like your electricity supply, you can often choose how you want to pay for your natural gas, either by a regular bill or by using a top up card.

More information can be found in our energy saving guide – Save Energy, Money and the Environment, available to download at https://www.choice-housing.org/energy

What about Heating Oil?

Around 68% of homes in Northern Ireland use heating oil and many people are familiar with phoning a few suppliers to get the best possible price.  As well as making those regular phone calls there are a few ways to compare prices online.  The Consumer Council contacts heating oil suppliers across different areas of Northern Ireland each week and publishes information on their website http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk .  Other comparison websites are available, some of which allow you to purchase your heating oil online and benefit from grouped orders of heating oil deliveries in your area.

The most expensive way to buy heating oil is in drums or from the pump at a garage forecourt, and so these methods should only be used in the event of an emergency.  Unlike electricity and natural gas, it can be more difficult to budget for heating oil, especially if you are trying to get a delivery of over 200litres.  One option to help with this is to consider joining an oil buying club if there is one in your area, and if not you could consider setting up an oil buying club?

As part of Energy Week 2016 Choice are working alongside Bryson Energy who, with support from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, have encouraged the formation of oil buying clubs across Northern Ireland.  To find out if there is an oil buying club already established in your area which you could join, contact Bryson Energy on 0800 1422 867 or visit http://www.brysonenergy.org/projects-and-partnerships/140-oil-buying-club-scheme.html