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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Consumer Council tips for saving on your energy bills

Heating and lighting our homes is an everyday necessity. However, Consumer Council research shows that for one third of consumers it is the area of household expenditure they worry about most.

Consumers can cut down on their energy bills by shopping around for the best deal possible and switching suppliers to make savings. The Consumer Council has produced a range of resources to help consumers save on their home heating oil, natural gas and electricity bills.

Home heating oil

Most homes in Northern Ireland (68%) are heated using home heating oil. To enable consumers to make informed decisions when buying home heating oil the Consumer Council conducts a weekly survey of home heating oil suppliers. Average prices for 300 litre, 500 litre and 900 litre fills at 26 locations are published on the Consumer Council website. Knowing the average price in your area will enable you to see if you are being offered a good price when you shop around for your fuel. 


Around one in six (17%) homes in NI are heated using gas. At present there are two separate gas networks in the region:

  • In the Greater Belfast and Larne area the gas network is owned and operated by Phoenix Natural Gas. Although Phoenix Natural Gas operates the gas network pipes, it does not sell gas to consumers. Consumers in the area have a choice of buying their gas from Firmus Energy or SSE Airtiricity. The Consumer Council publishes a comparison table on its website detailing the different tariffs and payment methods offered by Firmus Energy and SSE Airtricity. Consumers can use this information to see whether they could make a saving on their bills by switching supplier or changing their payment method.
  • In the ‘Ten Towns’ area (this includes Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Craigavon, Londonderry, Limavady and Newry) the gas pipe network is operated by Firmus Energy. In the ‘Ten Towns’, Firmus Energy is the only company that supplies gas to domestic consumers.


All homes in NI use electricity. We now have six different suppliers that consumers can choose from to buy their electricity. The suppliers are: Budget Energy, Click Energy, Electric Ireland, Open Electric, Power NI, and SSE Airtricity.

The Consumer Council publishes a comparison table on its website explaining the different tariffs and payment methods offered by the various suppliers. Consumers can use this information to assess whether they could make a saving on their bills by switching supplier or payment method.

Switching electricity or gas supplier

As long as you are the person who is named on the bill you can switch supplier. It makes no difference whether you are a homeowner or you rent your home. When switching supplier there is no change to your meter or the quality of the supply, and during switching there will be no interruption to your supply of energy.

It is very simple to switch electricity or gas supplier. All you need to do is contact the new supplier and tell them you want to switch to them. The new supplier will start the switching process and deal with the paperwork. You have a ten working day ‘cooling off period’ in which you can cancel the switch if you change your mind. The switch must be completed within 15 working days after the end of the cooling off period, unless you have a longer notice period to give to your old supplier. Unless you choose a fixed contract you can switch as many times and whenever you wish.

For more information on how to switch you can download the Consumer Council’s Switch On guide or call 0800 121 6022.

Tagged In

Practical tips, Affordability

This article was written on 19 February 2016. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.