Natural gas can be used for central heating and to generate electricity for household appliances such as your cooker and hob, tumble dryer, real flame fires or outdoor lighting.
Gas supply is privatised, which means that you can choose which private company supplies your home with gas. Suppliers offer a range of services and deals, including different ways to pay your bill. Many energy suppliers provide both electricity and gas.
Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) is responsible for operating and maintaining the gas network. You will need to contact GNI if you are connecting to the electricity grid for the first time, or if you are disconnecting completely. You might also give meter readings to GNI.
GNI connects all customers to its network regardless of which gas supply company you use. It also has a number of other roles including:
- Providing site works services to customers who wish to have their gas connection altered in some way
- Fixing connection problems
- Ensuring gas networks safety and maintenance
- Installing and reading gas meters
- Promoting gas safety awareness
- Operating a 24 hour emergency service line to deal with reports of gas leaks
- Carrying out carbon monoxide safety inspections
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is the regulator of the gas industry.
If you are building a home, or moving into a home that has never been connected to the gas network, you must contact GNI to be connected. As the gas network is not available in all parts of the country, you must first check if gas is available in your area. You can do this by using GNI’s Gas Network Map.
If gas is available, then you can:
- Contact GNI to apply and pay for connection works to be carried out, or
- Contact a gas supplier to sign up to a service and they can organise connection with GNI for you
GNI will install the external gas pipes and meter you need to set up the connection. The internal work on the house, including gas pipes and connection to appliances, must be completed by a Registered Gas Installer (RGI). The RGI should give you a conformance certificate when the internal work has been completed.
If you want to disconnect from the gas supply because of building or renovation work, you must contact GNI for advice.
The CRU has more information about getting a gas connection.
What happens if I move house?
If you are moving into a property that already has a gas connection, you should contact a gas supplier to set up a new service account. You should give your gas supplier a meter reading as soon as possible. If you are renting, your landlord may have to contact the gas supplier for you.
To avoid the meter being locked or disconnected before you move in, you should tell the supplier as soon as possible that there will be a change of ownership or occupier.
You are not responsible for any gas used by the previous occupier.
If you are an existing natural gas customer and you are moving home or wish to close your account, contact your supplier in advance to provide 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.
Will I need to pay a security deposit when I open a new account or move supplier?
Your gas supplier is allowed to charge a deposit. Each supplier has its own deposit policy, which must be fair, transparent and reasonable. The deposit should be returned in the bill that you receive after your contract ends (your contract is usually 12 months). Your supplier should tell you if you are at risk of losing your deposit and describe the steps you should take to improve your credit terms.
If you are on a low income and cannot afford to pay a deposit, you may be eligible for assistance from your local INTREO office.
The CRU’s Electricity and gas supplier’s handbook (pdf) has more information about security deposits (at page 27).
Gas meter reading
Your gas meter measures the amount of gas that you use and the readings are used to calculate the amount that you are charged by your gas supplier.
A GNI meter reader will call to the premises to record the amount of gas used since the meter was last read. This is done four times a year. An estimated reading will be used for the other billing periods.
When new meters are installed, they are located in external meter boxes. For older homes, the meter may be inside the home. If the meter reader cannot access the meter, they will leave a card in the mailbox letting you know they were there and asking you to submit your reading. You can also submit your meter reading directly to your supplier. If you do not submit a reading an estimated reading will be used to calculate your next bill.
Meters are the property of Gas Networks Ireland and must not be interfered with in any way. Interference with a meter is against the law and offenders can be prosecuted.
Understanding your bill
When you sign up to a gas supplier, you should receive regular and accurate bills. However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the bill, in particular how they calculate the amount you owe.
You should receive a bill from your gas supplier every 2 months. It should be clearly marked whether the meter read used to calculate your bill amount was:
- A – an actual meter read by GNI
- C – a read submitted by you the customer
- E – an estimated meter reading
You should check your bill to make sure that you are not getting too many estimated bills in a row as this could result in a large bill when an actual reading is taken. You can check your meter and submit your own reading at any time to ensure accurate billing. GNI has information on how to submit a meter reading.
Suppliers have to give you a range of options to pay your bills (for example, by direct debit, paying online with your card or pay at shops displaying payzone logo). You should contact your supplier to find out what option suits you.
CRU also has more information about understanding your gas bill.
Switching gas suppliers
If you are not happy with your current gas supplier you can switch supplier. You should check if you are in a fixed term contract. If you are, you may be charged for switching to another supplier. As there are many suppliers to choose from it is important to do your research to find the best option to suit your needs.
Before you switch you should:
- Check your current bill to see what your usage is, the average amount you pay and how payment is taken
- Find out when your contract with your current supplier ends
- Use a price comparison website such as Bonkers.ie or Switcher.ie
- Try to renegotiate with your current supplier
- Make sure you have your Gas Point Registration Number or GPRN (located on your current bill) and an up-to-date meter reading for the new supplier
The new supplier will tell the old supplier that you will be changing over. The CRU has more information about switching supplier.
What if I change my mind?
If you switch to a new supplier but then change your mind, you can cancel the contract if you signed up less than 14 days ago over the phone, online or at your doorstep. This is called a ‘cooling-off’ period
You can find out more about your consumer rights.
What can I do if I am struggling to pay my bills?
If you are behind on your payments or having difficulties paying your gas bills, you should get help. You can:
- Make an appointment with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS)
- Speak to your supplier to talk about payment options
- Call to your local Citizens Information Service
Alternative payments plans
If you agree, the supplier may put an alternative payment plan to be put in place. Suppliers have to assist customers who are in genuine financial difficulty and to make at least 4 attempts to contact the customer they can disconnect you.
Vulnerable customers who are registered as priority services customers cannot be disconnected. Elderly vulnerable customers who have problems paying their bills cannot be disconnected during the winter months (November to March).
Social welfare assistance
If you are aged over 70, you can avail of the natural gas allowance as part of the Household Benefits package. Some people under 70 may also qualify if they meet certain criteria. The allowance is paid either as a monthly credit on a customer's bill or directly to the customer.
The CRU has more information about disconnection and your rights.
What other protections do I have?
One of CRU’s roles is to ensure energy customers are protected and to promote competition. It does this by putting in place a rulebook called the Supplier Handbook. This requires suppliers to have codes of practices.
These codes covers the following areas:
- Customer sign-up
- Marketing and advertising
- Complaints handling
- Vulnerable customers
- Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) and budget controllers
- Non-domestic customers
Suppliers are also required to produce Customer Charters with guaranteed service levels for their customers. They should also set out compensation and refund arrangements when service quality levels are not met.
How to make a complaint
If you have a problem, you should first contact either:
- Your gas supplier for issues such as billing, account problems, marketing or advertising, or changing supplier
- GNI for problems such as a faulty meter, connection costs, emergencies, outages, or connection delays
If you cannot sort out the problem informally, you can complain in writing to either your supplier or the network provider.
If you are not happy with the response from your provider, you have the following options:
CRU has more energy information in its dedicated customer information section.