Northern Ireland electricity and gas
Northern Ireland electricity and gas
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Northern Ireland electricity and gas
Find the best Northern Ireland electricity and gas energy firm for you, based on the opinions of hundreds of Northern Ireland electricity and gas customers.
Our biggest ever annual energy companies survey brings you results for all six Northern Ireland electricity and gas suppliers. You can find out what customers of Budget Energy, Click Energy, Electric Ireland, Firmus Energy, Power NI and SSE Airtricity really think of their energy company. Then you can use our results to find the best energy company for your home.
Small supplier Electric Ireland topped the table this year. The two biggest firms, Power NI and SSE Airtricity, sit at the bottom. Despite this, nine in ten customers in Northern Ireland (89%) are with either Power NI or SSE Airtricity. So is it time to switch for a better service?
In October 2017, we included Northern Ireland energy companies in our undercover investigation into call waiting times for the first time. Jump straight to find out how long Northern Ireland energy firms keep you waiting on the phone or read on to find out which companies are best-loved by their customers.
Best and worst Northern Ireland electricity and gas companies
We asked 350 Northern Ireland energy customers to rate their electricity and gas supplier on its customer service and complaints handling, billing, whether they feel it’s value for money and if they think it helps them save energy. The full results are in the table below. Click each company’s name to read our expert review.
We didn't receive enough responses from Open Electric customers to rank it in our table and, since our survey, it has had its licence revoked. Scroll down to find out more about it.
|Northern Ireland energy companies rated|
|Customer satisfaction||Customer score|
|Position||Company||Customer service and dealing with complaints||Value for money||Bills (accuracy and clarity)||Helping you to save energy|
The Customer Score combines customers’ overall satisfaction with their likelihood to recommend, and is not directly linked to the star ratings.
Overall averages - 64% for NI. This is weighted for the market share of each energy company.
‘Helping you save energy’ - a rating of how the supplier helps you to save energy.
‘Customer service and complaints’ - a rating of how well respondents felt the company was dealing with their customers, and their complaints.
(-) - too few responses to give a rating.
Sample sizes: Electric Ireland (41), Budget Energy (40), Click Energy (30), Firmus Energy (42), Power NI (108), SSE Airtricity (89). Survey: October 2016.
Using the energy survey results
Energy companies are ranked in the table above based on their customer score. Our customer satisfaction survey asked people to rate their energy company based on its customer service, bills, value for money and how it helps them save energy. We also asked them how satisfied they were overall with their provider and if they would recommend it to a friend. We use these responses to form the customer score.
The table also shows how the companies scored on specific criteria. So if great customer service and effective complaints handling is important to you, compare each company’s star rating for this. Or if getting the cheapest deal is your priority, see what other customers think of a firm’s value for money – and make sure you check its latest prices, too. You can use the Northern Ireland Consumer Council’s website to compare energy prices, and go direct to the energy company’s website to switch.
Northern Ireland electricity and gas market
The regulated market in Northern Ireland provides consumers with relatively stable prices while giving them a small level of competition. Since the first competing supplier joined the domestic energy market in 2010, six suppliers have challenged the incumbent Power NI and, collectively, they now have 37% of customers. The biggest of these is SSE Airtricity.
The majority of households in Northern Ireland (69%) have electricity only, although the number with mains gas is increasing. So most suppliers sell electricity only, with the exception of Firmus Energy (gas only) and SSE Airtricity (electricity and gas).
Customers in Northern Ireland are more likely to have a prepayment meter than households in the rest of the UK; 41% of you do, compared with 27% for the rest of the UK.
Our survey found that the number of people switching in Northern Ireland is lower compared with the rest of the UK.
A quarter of respondents in Northern Ireland who haven’t switched say they think all suppliers are the same. But as our survey reveals, they’re not. And though top-placed Electric Ireland gets an impressive customer score of 80%, no supplier gets more than three stars for bills, or customer service and complaints. The top-scoring GB energy suppliers are rated higher across all of these aspects – so should you be expecting more from your energy supplier?
How long does your energy supplier keep you waiting on the phone?
Telephone is the most popular method to get hold of your energy company. More than eight in ten of you (84%) who have contacted your energy company in the last year told us you’d phoned it.*
So we conducted a snapshot investigation to reveal how long customers have to wait to have their phone calls answered by a human being, and how this compares to new customers calling energy companies’ sales lines.
In our latest investigation (September and October 2017), we phoned Northern Ireland energy companies’ customer services and sales lines (where available) 12 times each.
Click Energy was the fastest to answer our phone calls to its customer services, in an average of 29 seconds. By contrast, the biggest energy firm, Power NI, took 4m15s on average to answer our calls.
Power NI offers a call-back service for potential customers, so it has no score for sales call waiting time.
See the full results of our 2017 investigation into Northern Ireland energy company call waiting times, or see how firms in England, Scotland and Wales compare for call waiting.
*(Based on the responses of 107 members of the general public in Northern Ireland who have contacted their energy firm in the last year. Survey conducted in September 2017.)
Open Electric was Northern Ireland's newest electricity company but it had its licence revoked by the Utility Regulator in December 2016.
Open Electric had 0.1% market share in Northern Ireland in autumn 2016. It described itself as socially aware and donated 10% of its profits to a charity of its customers' choice. Open Electric also shared some of its profits with its customers.
Open Electric said business had become ‘untenable’ owing to ‘swift and significant increases in energy prices over recent months and, as a small supplier, our inability to forward buy energy to allow us to access the best possible wholesale price’.
If you were a customer of Open Electric, you will have been moved automatically to Power NI on the same tariff as its existing customers. Your bank details haven’t been passed on so you should contact Power NI (on 0800 011 3435 or at www.powerni.co.uk ) to set up your payments when you get a bill. Any credit you had on your account with Open Electric should have been applied to your Power NI account.
Pay As You Go meter customers will need a new keypad number to top-up.
You can switch to another energy supplier from Power NI after 20 working days of being transferred, if you want.