The CRU has published the detailed results of the annual independent audit of the three accredited energy price comparison websites, which currently operate in the Irish energy market, www.bonkers.ie, www.switcher.ie and www.powertoswitch.ie. The audit results show that all three websites remain in compliance with the current accreditation framework.
The CRU is acutely aware of the difficulties faced by many consumers this winter in the context of rising energy prices. While changing supplier may not be an option for all consumers, many can benefit from switching supplier or renegotiating with their current supplier.
Based on CRU data, active customers who switched supplier or renegotiated with their current supplier every year for the last 4 years could have saved €704 on gas, €1,097 on electricity or €1,696 on their dual fuel costs and price comparison websites can aid a consumer to get the best deal possible. Independent price comparison services are an important tool for customers to compare energy suppliers with an assurance that the information is provided in an accurate, reliable, transparent and impartial manner.
Overall, the findings of the CRU’s audit demonstrate a high standard of compliance with the PCW accreditation framework and by continuing to monitor price comparison websites’ compliance, the CRU is ensuring that customers are protected when engaging with the market.
Following the start of deregulation of energy supply in Ireland in 2011, the CRU set out a framework for the accreditation of price comparison websites, incorporating 11 key principles that these website providers must observe in order to become or remain an accredited website.
These principles include principles on a wide range of areas, including independence and impartiality, tariff and price comparison, the calculation of cost comparisons, the accurate update of tariffs, the treatment of green tariffs, consumer information and accessibility, customer care and data protection.
As part of the audit, the CRU also provides test case scenarios which simulate the customer interaction with a price comparison tool and tests different customer case scenarios.
The accreditation of the price comparison websites and the annual audits of the accredited websites are part of the CRU’s role in protecting consumers and encouraging consumers to engage with the retail marketplace to promote greater competition.
The CRU Chairperson, Aoife MacEvilly, said: “We know that customers are worried about higher energy bills. When prices are high, it is even more important to make sure you are on the best value deal available. Customers can find better value, either by switching supplier or renegotiating with your current supplier. This is free, simple and quick to do. Using a price comparison website can make switching an even easier process. They allow customers to compare energy supplier offers and even look after the switching process for you. Switching websites accredited by the CRU are required to provide impartial and accurate information that consumers can rely on.”