With more than half of Irish households currently fitted out with a smart electricity meter, many homeowners may be wondering if switching to a smart electricity plan is right for them.

In short, whether a smart tariff would save you money depends on your current plan and your electricity usage. For many people, choosing a smart plan might actually cost them much more on their annual electricity bills.

Electric Ireland has a number of electricity plans, so let’s explore whether their smart meter time-of-use plans would be beneficial for you based on your daily electricity usage, so that you can make an informed decision.

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What is a smart electricity plan?

Smart meters are being rolled out by ESB Networks across Ireland under the Climate Action Plan, allowing households to monitor their electricity consumption and receive bills which are not based on estimates.

This has a number of benefits, allowing people to make decisions and changes to their energy consumption based on real-time accurate readings.

And for those who have already had their smart meter installed, electricity providers in Ireland now offer these customers smart rates, or Time of Use tariffs, which work in a similar way to day/night rates but with extra time bands.

Smart plans differ from standard rates in that they have different prices for each unit of electricity consumed based on different time periods, usually daytime, peak and night-time consumption.

Some providers, including Electric Ireland, also offer rates especially designed for EV owners which allow them to charge their cars for a couple of hours each night at a low cost.

Comparing Electric Ireland’s Electricity Plans

While being charged less for electricity usage at off-peak hours might seem like a great idea for reducing your energy bills, the reality is that whether you’d actually save money really depends on your specific usage.

Electric Ireland, the largest energy provider in the country, has three categories of electricity only plans available to customers based on the type of meter they have: standard, smart and day/night.

The company has different offers with each of these meters, which gives customers control over whether they wish to remain with a consistent unit price or opt for a plan which charges different prices depending on the time of day.

Standard Meter vs Smart Meter Plans

With a standard electricity meter, Electric Ireland customers can choose between the Energysaver 28% or the Green tariff.

The standard Energysaver 28% price is 25.80c per kWh, and with a Green Electricity plan (100% green electricity), each unit of electricity costs 34.03c.

With a smart meter, there are three offers: Home Electric (with a 28% discount), Home Electric + Night Boost, and Home Electric + Night Boost EV.

The basic Home Electric plan with a smart meter is the same as the standard meter plan, charging 25.80c per kWh at all times.

But with Electric Ireland’s Home Electric + Night Boost – which offers different unit rates for different times of the day – the unit price at night is indeed much cheaper.

Customers on a 12-month Home Electric + Night Boost plan get three different rates for three distinct time periods, at a 5.5% discount. However, unlike some other electricity providers, with Electric Ireland there is no “peak”unit price.

The day rate, lasting from 8am to 11pm, is 36.15c per kWh – over 10 cent (40%) more expensive than the basic rates.

This means that for those who consume the vast majority of their electricity during the day, until 11pm, the Night Boost option would be considerably more expensive, adding hundreds of euros to their annual bills.

But if you use a substantial portion of their electricity at night, and especially if you have an electric vehicle which you charge overnight, then this smart plan might have the opposite effect – saving you hundreds per year.

The night boost rate, between 2am and 4am, is just 10.47c per kWh, and during the other night-time hours, it is 17.83c per kWh.

There is also a special smart rate which offers a €300 welcome bonus for electric vehicle owners with a charger.

Electric Vehicle Charger Components

Who should switch to a Night Boost Plan?

These unit prices can be difficult to imagine in reality, so let’s look at some examples to determine if you should switch to Electric Ireland’s Night Boost plan.

With the standard plan and the Home Electric + Saver 28%, the average 4,200 kWh annual bill would be around €1,050 before the standing charge of between €250 and €315.

So for those considering switching to a Home Electric + Night Boost plan, they must ensure that they use enough electricity at night.

If you used 20% of your annual electricity (840 kWh) between midnight and 2am and the rest during the day, the same bill with the Home Electric + Night Boost plan would be €1,361 excluding the standing charge.

For most people to get the most out of this plan, you’d need to also consume some electricity during the Night Boost hours between 2am and 4am.

For example, if you used 15% of your annual electricity between 2am and 4am, it would cost you just over €65 for this portion. If you consumed another 20% during the other night hours, that would cost €149.50 and the remainder (€985) would bring you up to €1,199.

This all means that for those thinking of switching to a Home Electric + Night Boost tariff, they should really consider the amount of electricity they consume during the three time periods.

There is no doubt that with an electric vehicle, especially with the €300 welcome bonus, there could be some considerable savings to be made, as EV owners typically use a great deal of electricity overnight.

And smart features on your electric vehicle charger also allow you to schedule charging at specific times, meaning you could make even more savings!

Michael Malone

SOLAR ENERGY EDITOR

Michael Malone is Solar Energy Editor at Energy Efficiency Ireland. He is committed to highlighting the benefits of solar PV for people across the island of Ireland, and is eager to clear up some misconceptions which linger among the Irish public regarding solar energy.

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