Natural gas can be used for domestic central heating, cooking, real flame fires or tumble-drying. In addition, natural gas has a range of applications for business customers. It is piped underground and connected to properties so there is no need to store it. Over half a million homes and businesses in Ireland are connected to natural gas.
Responsibility for the natural gas pipeline infrastructure lies with Bord Gáis Éireann, a commercial State body, wholly owned by the Government. In June 2014 it was renamed Ervia as part of the organisation's transformation from an energy company to a multi-utility company, responsible for strategic national gas and water services and related infrastructure.
The gas supply market in Ireland has been gradually opened to competition in recent years. Since July 2004 all business users have been able to choose their own supplier. Since July 2007 residential customers have been able to choose their gas supplier.
Gaslink is the independent system operator with responsibility for developing, maintaining and operating the natural gas transportation system in Ireland. Bord Gáis Networks (a division of Ervia) carries out work and provides services on Gaslink's behalf with regard to the natural gas transmission and distribution networks. Gas is brought from the gas fields off the coast of Cork, and from the North Sea gas fields through sub-sea interconnector pipelines. Natural gas is then transported through pipelines aroundt the country and is available in most towns and cities. You can view the towns and cities with natural gas services on its website.
Bord Gáis Networks connects all customers to its network regardless of which gas supply company you use. You can find out how to get connected and the costs involved here.
It also provides site works services to customers who wish to have their gas connection altered in some way. There is more information on site work services and associated charges here.
Bord Gáis Networks is responsible for all gas network safety and maintenance. It carries out regular safety awareness promotions each year to highlight the key issues concerning natural gas and safety to both natural gas customers and to the general public. Its safety campaigns include:
It also operates a 24 hour emergency service line Lo-Call 1850 205 050 which you should contact if you smell gas and suspect that gas is escaping.
Bord Gáis Networks installs and reads the meters that measure the gas used in any premises. Three times a year, a Bord Gáis Networks meter reader will call to your home to record the amount of gas used since the meter was last read. These meter readings are then passed to your natural gas supplier, who uses the information to prepare your gas bill.
If the meter reader cannot gain access to the meter, a Sorry we missed you card is left for you to submit your reading. You can also submit your meter reading directly to your supplier.
Estimates of your gas usage are also made between meter readings or if the meter reader cannot gain access to the meter. To ensure that accurate estimates are made and that you receive an accurate bill, it is important that actual meter readings are taken.
When new meters are installed, they are located in external meter boxes. This permits the meter reader to record your gas usage without disturbing you. The meter box is locked and you have a key. You should keep this in a safe place and only open the box to:
If you have a meter box but do not have a key, you should contact Bord Gáis Networks on 1850 200 694, and one will be sent to you.
Older meters may be located inside your home. You should ensure that the meter reader has clear and easy access to the meter.
Meters are the property of Bord Gáis Networks and must not be interfered with in any way. Interference with a meter is prohibited by law and offenders can be prosecuted.
Residential customers have been able to choose their gas supplier since 2007. You can view a full list of natural gas suppliers on the Regulator's website.
If you are moving into a property which has natural gas installed you should contact a gas supplier to find out the supplier’s terms and conditions for supply and to get an application form.
To ensure accurate billing by your supplier, it is recommended that a meter reading is taken when the previous occupier moves out or when you move in. To avoid the meter being locked or disconnected before you take occupancy, you should give as much advance notice as possible of the handover.
You are not liable for any gas used by the previous occupier, however if you have an outstanding gas bill from a previous address you may have to pay this bill to avoid interruption of the supply.
If you are an existing natural gas customer and you are moving home or wish to close your account, contact your supplier to find out what to do.
If you are moving out of your home, it is recommended that you call your supplier in advance with a closing meter reading, your new address and the name of the new occupant (if known). If you do not do this you will be responsible for any gas used at the premises.
If you want to change supplier you should contact your new supplier with details of your meter number and a meter reading. You will be talked through the switching process by the supplier who will then process your application. More information on switching is available on the Regulator's website.
Gas suppliers are required by law to produce Codes of Practice outlining their services to customers. These cover:
Gas suppliers are also required to produce Customer Charters with guaranteed service levels for their customers. Information on codes of practice is available here.
Bord Gáis Networks also has a Customer Charter and Codes of Practice covering various aspects of its business.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.