Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Understanding prepaid electricity

Prepaid electricity

By Tiernan Cannon

Faced with the dreaded sums of the bi-monthly electricity bill, many people in Ireland have or will consider switching over to prepay power options such as those offered by Pinergy, PrePayPower or Electric Ireland’s Smarter Pay As You Go option.

Prepay power options have become much more sophisticated in recent years – working in much the same way as topping up a phone. A meter is installed in your home for free, and you can even do this from home online, paying by debit or credit card. Simple.

One clear advantage in prepaying for electricity is that it allows you to more clearly monitor your energy usage. Instead of getting a nasty shock every second month, you are fully aware of the electricity you are using and can adjust your usage accordingly. This is useful for those who find budgeting for larger bills to be a difficult task, or who may not always have the money when the bill arrives.

High prices

However, prepaid power options are notoriously expensive. The prices vary according to the provider, but as a rule prepay power is more costly than its more traditional alternative. This is because prepaid power providers have a prepayment service charge which, together with the regular standing electricity charge and the Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy, means that prepaid electricity customers could potentially pay around 80c per day before they use any electricity at all.

Take PrepayPower.ie which, alongside their standing charge of around 38 cent per day and the PSO levy of 19 cent per day, charges a service charge of 37.5 cent per day. Bonkers.ie offers a handy comparison of prices across the three prepay power suppliers in Ireland.

In order to save any money then, prepaid users need to significantly cut down on their electricity usage. The ability to monitor power usage which is afforded by prepay power options can help in this endeavour, but the reductions would have to be quite significant to bridge the gap.

A further disadvantage is that you could be cut off at an inconvenient time for not topping up your account. Most providers, however, have stated that they will not cut off customers at night or during holidays or weekends.

In any case, the various prepaid options have some benefits but quite significant drawbacks, financially speaking. They can definitely save you some money if you’re prepared to commit to cutting back on your energy usage to a large extent, but if not then you might end up spending more than you already were.

To learn more about prepaid electricity and its providers, visit switcher.ie.

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When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.
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