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Switch and Save

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Standard domestic prices have moved so close together that, aside from the availability of some one or two year contracts, the savings from moving from one supplier to another are quite limited. That is frustrating for households that want to save money on their bills. Nevertheless there is some light on the horizon because of two completely different issues which I outline below

Prices are likely to fall in the Autumn because the wholesale cost of electricity and gas has dropped. It’s not possible to say however what the new tariff of Power NI, the only regulated electricity supplier, will be because one would have to know just how much hedging they are engaging in. Not only that one would also have to discover whether there has been an under or over recovery of money from customers over the past year. If it turns out that Power NI set prices too low last year they will be entitled to claim the shortfall from consumers over the next year. On the other hand if they charged too much, the excess will be handed back. As all these matters obviously have an impact on the bills customers will be asked to pay, forecasting prices remains pure guesswork

Anyway there is a chance you could cut costs right now. If you run a small business from home you might be entitled to avail of a business tariff. The discounts in the business market are quite significant. You could save as much as four pence a unit. That reduction is offset by a quarterly standing charge of close to £12. All in all it could be in your interests to switch to a business tariff. 

So how do you go about it? You may have to produce some evidence that you operate a business. And then you contact your chosen supplier who will offer a variety of tariffs. Essentially they break down into two types - a single flat rate charge per unit of electricity or several different unit rates which apply at specific times of the day or week. If you opt for the latter you will need your meter adjusted by NIE but if you switch from flat rate domestic to flat rate business, as I understand it, you don’t even need that modification. Whichever tariff you choose there is a standing charged attached to it.

Please bear in mind that I have simplified this process. There is nothing about energy supply that is straightforward. But change is possible.

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