New figures from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) show that wholesale gas prices increased by 380% in 2021, while wholesale electricity prices jumped by 260% compared to the previous year.
The knock-on effect on retail prices caused more customers to switch providers in an effort to reduce their bills.
Today’s data from the CRU shows that a record 14.5% of electricity customers switched supplier last year, up 18% on the previous year, while 17% of gas customers changed supplier, up over 7%.
By switching from a standard tariff to a discounted rate, the CRU said a domestic customer could have saved an average of €581 for electricity last year, and €316 for gas.
The figures show that the number of domestic customers renegotiating their contracts with their supplier also increased in last year, by 17.3% in electricity and 15.6% in gas.
“While prices have continued to rise, there is still good value in switching supplier and we would encourage all customers to extract every cent of value that is available in the market by switching or renegotiating with your supplier,” said Karen Trant, CRU Director of Customer Policy and Protection.
“The price rises announced by suppliers over the last nine months of 2021 and during this year is a trend that is impacting all energy customers across Europe and we will unfortunately expect to see a trend of high prices continue in 2023,” she added.
According to the CRU, the number of customers in arrears increased last year when compared to 2020.
Almost 13% of electricity customers were in arrears at the end of last year, up over 5% on the previous year, while over 18% of gas customers were in arrears, up 9%.
The CRU figures show that non-payment of account disconnections of customers decreased by 34% in electricity and by 6% in gas last year compared to 2020.
The total number of NPA disconnections in 2021 was 912 for electricity and 503 for gas, compared to 1,373 electricity and 534 gas disconnections in 2020.
This decrease in disconnections was largely affected by the continued suspension of disconnections due to Covid-19.
However, even during the periods when there was no moratorium in place for domestic disconnections, the numbers were significantly lower than the numbers that would typically be observed on an annual basis.
The CRU recently announced a number of new customer protection measures in advance of this winter to further enhance the existing protections that were in place.
This included extended moratoriums for all domestic customers, extended debt repayment options for customers and reduced debt burden on pay as you go meters.