Paying your electricity bills

Introduction

When you sign up to an electricity supplier, you should get regular and accurate bills. Suppliers must give you a range of options for paying your bills.

Recent increases in energy costs have had a big impact on the cost of living for households. If you are worried about paying your electricity bills, help is available. You can contact your energy supplier to explore payment options or contact MABS for help and advice.

Help with rising electricity bills

Domestic electricity customers, including pay as you go customers got a one-off, exceptional payment of €200 in 2022.

The payment was automatically paid between April and June 2022.

Get more information about the €200 Electricity Account Credit. The CRU has a detailed Guidance document (pdf).

Other measures to reduce electricity costs

Changes to VAT rate

Since 1 May 2022, the rate of VAT on gas and electricity bills reduced from 13.5% to 9%. This reduced rate is in place until the end of October 2022.

Cuts to the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy

The ‘Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy’ is currently paid by all electricity customers to support the costs of renewable energy.

The PSO levy on electricity bills will be reduced to zero from 1 October 2022. This will lead to an annual saving of €52 (excluding VAT) on household bills.

The Government announced a further reduction in the PSO Levy that will result in an ‘indicative’ annual saving of €75 (excluding VAT) on a typical household bill.

This means household electricity bills will have a total 'indicative' saving of €127 (excluding VAT), beginning in October 2022.

New protections to help customers this winter

The CRU is implementing the following customer protection measures for this winter:

  • Extended disconnections moratorium: the moratorium (or ban on disconnections) for all domestic customers is extended from 1 December 2022 until 28 February 2023 (increased from 1 month to 3 months). For vulnerable customers, the ban on disconnections is extended from 1 October 2022 until 31 March 2023 (increased from 5 months to 6 months).
  • Extended debt repayment periods: to allow you a minimum of 24 months to repay debt (effective 1 November 2022).
  • Lower debt repayments on Pay-As-You-Go top-ups: suppliers can deduct a maximum 10% to cover a debt repayment (reduced from 25%). For example, a €20 top-up would have €2 deducted to pay your debt (effective 1 October 2022).
  • Financial hardship meter: if you are on a financial hardship meter, your supplier must place you on the cheapest tariff available (effective 1 December 2022).
  • Vulnerable customer register: suppliers must actively promote the protections of the vulnerable customers register (effective 1 November 2022).

If you are struggling to pay your bills

Help is available if you are worried about paying your electricity bills.

You can:

Your electricity supply could be cut off if you do not pay your bills. MABS has more advice if you have problems paying your bills.

Alternative payments plans

The supplier can agree to put an alternative payment plan in place for you. Suppliers must help you if you are in genuine financial difficulty. They must make at least 4 attempts to contact you before they disconnect your electricity.

There is a ban on disconnections (known as a moratorium) between certain months and you have a minimum of 24 months to repay your debt – see ‘New protections to help customers this winter’ above.

Claiming social welfare

Household Benefits package

If you are over 70, you can get the electricity 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.

Fuel Allowance

You can get Fuel Allowance if you are getting certain social welfare payments and satisfy the other conditions of the scheme. This year, extra once off payments of Fuel Allowance were paid on top of the normal seasonal allowance that is paid during the winter months.

Additional Needs Payment

The Additional Needs Payment can help you with an expense that you cannot pay from your weekly income. The amount that you can get depends on your circumstances and the type of help you need.

Vulnerable customers

Vulnerable customers who are registered as priority services customers cannot be disconnected.

Vulnerable customers who have problems paying their bills cannot be disconnected during the winter months (October 2022 to March 2023).

The CRU has more information about disconnection and your rights.

Getting a meter reading

Your electricity meter measures the amount of electricity you use. The readings are used by your supplier to calculate your bill.

An ESBN reader will call to your property to record the amount of electricity used since the meter was last read. This is done 4 times a year. An estimated reading will be used for the other billing periods.

If the meter reader cannot get access to the meter, they will leave a card in the mailbox letting you know they were there and asking you to send in your own reading. You can also send 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 ESBN and you must not interfere with it in any way. Only authorised people are allowed to fix, connect, remove or carry out work on any meter, main fuse box, seal, electric line or other apparatus belonging to ESBN. It is against the law to tamper with your meter. Find out more about meter tampering.

The CRU has more information about electricity meter reading.

Smart meters

Since 2019, ESB Networks has been fitting homes and businesses with smart meters. Smart meters are the next generation of electricity meters and it is planned that all homes in Ireland will be fitted with smart meters by the end of 2024.

Smart meters will automatically communicate your electricity usage to your supplier, so there will be no more estimated bills. You will also have more information on your electricity usage than is available from current meters.

It is planned to replace the oldest meters with the new smart meters. You can contact your electricity supplier or ESBN to apply for a prioritised installation. There is no upfront charge to have a smart meter installed.

Read more about the National Smart Metering Programme (NSMP).

Understanding your bill

It can sometimes be difficult to understand the bill, particularly how the amount you owe is calculated.

Your supplier must include information about how it has calculated your bill. This includes the meter reading the bill is based on, the tariff category that applies and any levies that are being applied to the bill.

A bill is usually sent by your electricity supplier every 2 months. It must be clearly marked whether the meter read used to calculate your bill amount was:

  • A – an actual meter read by ESBN
  • C – a read submitted by you the customer
  • E – an estimated meter reading

Check your bill to make sure 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 make sure you are getting accurate bills.

ESBN has information about how to submit an electricity meter reading.

Suppliers must give you a range of options for paying your bills (for example, by direct debit, paying online with your card or pay at shops displaying the Payzone logo). Contact your supplier to find out what option suits you.

CRU has more information about understanding electricity bills.

How to use less electricity

You can save on your electricity bills by being more energy efficient.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) helps consumers to improve their energy efficiency. Get tips and advice on how to save energy on everything from heating, lighting, hot water, cooking, appliances and draughts. You can get an energy monitor to tell you how much electricity you are using in real time. Making small changes to be more energy efficient can help reduce your bills.

Energy efficiency grants

You may be entitled to a grant to upgrade your home energy system and improve the BER rating of your home. This will lower the amount of electricity that you use. There are also grants available for solar panels.

Get more information on how to improve your energy efficiency (pdf) and on the grants available from the SEAI.

Page edited: 12 September 2022