Should You Pay As You Go?

In Blog, Politicsby Fedayn6 Comments

An old leccy meter photographed by Alex Foster on Flickr.

Following reports in the media over the weekend that Pat Rabbitte was requesting the Dept. of Social Destruction install ‘pay-as-you-go’ electricity meters in people’s homes that are struggling with debt, we saw some replies that they were a good idea.

We also received some responses from people who had used them in the past or abroad and were under the impression that they end up costing more, which is hardly what the financially desperate need in their situation.

One of our Facebook readers Amber Cullygave us this lowdown:

“I work in the UK for a health and well being charity and provide some home energy advice, more recently the kWh amount is in line with dry meter prices, there is however a charge taken off every top up for the so called privilege of having the payg meter meaning for every 10 paid you only receive around £8 electricity. In this day and age I am meeting people from all walks of life unable to heat their homes and having the choice between heat or eat. I work closely with our local food bank and come across many people unable to take food that needs heated due to the cost of utilities.”

The  Money Guide Ireland’s website also notes that:

‘Most of the major providers will only install pre pay meters for free  when customers are in arrears – to help stop the arrears increasing any more.  Most of the suppliers (Electric Ireland, Airtricity, Bord Gais) should  install a pre-pay electricity meter for any customer that requests it – but there is normally a charge for it. (At least €100) . Normally – when you are on a pre-payment meter you will be put  on the highest tarriff.

There are companies such as Prepay Power and Pinergy  that will install a meter for free if you switch to them as your electricity supplier.  The basic unit rate they charge is the same as the Electric Ireland “Standard Rate” (which is their highest rate) – BUT they also add on an annual service charge of just under €137. So that means someone using PrepayPower orPinergy who consumed 4000kwh a year of electricity would end up paying  €1065 a year with a prepay meter.  The same usage would cost just €836 with Bord Gais (Direct Debit and ebilling). That’s a difference of  €229 a year(more than 20%) . For people on low incomes – that is a significant amount. See more details of the Lowest Electricity Prices

The use of prepay meters might encourage people to use less electricity –(especially if they keep running out of credit!)   But – in our opinion – for most people  it makes more sense to switch to the lowest priced electricity supplier if possible…”

Worth also noting that Ireland ranked as the fourth most expensive of 28 EU states when it comes to electricity prices. Consumers here pay €24.10 per 100 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity which is 20pc higher than the EU average of €20.10.

Maybe the outgoing Minister for Shell could have dealt with that instead of targetting the less fortunate, again?


  1. I got a meter a couple of weeks ago and it’s nothing like that. It’s a reasonable way to stay on top of bills and it’s allowing me to keep track of what I spend. I have no time for anything being forced on anyone, but it’s working fine for me.

  2. Getting one a these soon don’t wanna open it..wana believe Red O’Red instead….

  3. New pay as you go is a bit different. Have couple of months and the bill has gone down.

  4. Big difference between pinergy prepaypower et al and a meter from esb etc. The former have a service charge latter doesn’t. Also when you top up 25% is deducted from the arrears which you have to be in to get meter from esb. Getting a meter without being in arrears would be ideal. Rabble again falsly uccupying the moral high ground ffs.

  5. I’ve had a prepay for the last two years in the uk, it’s actually great having one less bill to worry about, it’s about 80p a day between two of us.

Leave a Comment