Comparator 6 December 2021 • 9 minutes
“CREG Scan” is now available on the website of the Commission de Régulation de l’Électricité et du Gaz [Gas and Electricity Regulatory Commission] (the federal energy regulator). This useful tool allows individuals to compare their energy contract and check whether it’s time to switch supplier.
The CREG tool, called CREG Scan, is very simple to use: in just a few clicks, the user receives a comparison of their current contract with two other deals: the most competitive and the least competitive for the current month.
The information to be provided when using CREG Scan is as follows:
After completing the various fields, you will receive the following information:
In the example above, we have chosen the Actif+ product from Luminus. According to CREG Scan, the cost of this product is close to the most expensive offer on the market for the month of November 2020. Households that use this product should therefore seriously consider changing their supplier or, at least, their price plan.
By looking at the price line presented by CREG Scan, the consumer can instantly see where their electricity and/or gas contract sits in relation to the current market prices and can then move on to do an online energy price comparison.
CREG Scan allows you to check whether the contact you have signed with your supplier is still competitive or whether, conversely, it is above the current market rates.
If the cost of your current contract is similar to the cheapest current market price, there is no need to switch supplier or deal. When you took out your contract, you chose a competitive deal which is still competitive now. If, however, the cost of your contract is close to the highest gas or electricity price in the market, it may be time to compare your deal and choose another supplier or another deal. CREG Scan is therefore a very useful tool in this regard.
This test will also tell you whether your current deal is “dormant” or active”. A dormant contract is a contract that is no longer offered by the supplier (or whose name still exists but whose price plan has been changed). In 2020, a publication from the CREG stated that 500,000 Belgian households had this type of contract.
However, all suppliers are obliged to update the price plans for dormant products, even if they are no longer available. This means that you may find products on the supplier’s website that actually no longer exist.
So what is the difference between a price comparison site and CREG Scan? An online comparison site such as Energyprice.be only references the active products on the market. This means that when you do your search you are comparing current market prices rather than the price of your contract, which was signed some time ago. Thanks to CREG Scan, it is now possible to compare a deal which is no longer available or which is several months old with gas and electricity deals currently on the energy market. This is a real advantage since the vast majority (around 75%) of the energy contracts of Belgian households do not appear on the comparison sites.
By using this tool, price-conscious consumers can also check whether their decision to switch supplier a few months ago was a sensible one. Even though the rate of switching supplier in Belgium is among the highest in Europe, Belgian citizens rarely choose the most competitive contract. Worse still, Belgian households often choose contracts that are more expensive than those they currently have, as they are attracted by lower instalments. So the new test from the CREG is beneficial in many respects.
CREG Scan is a very practical tool and is a valuable aid for consumers who want to compare their gas and/or electricity deal. Nevertheless, we would like to draw your attention to a few points to bear in mind:
Let’s look at a specific example. If you select the “Easy Fixed” electricity deal from ENGIE (Electrabel) (price plan for December 2019) for a residential customer in Wallonia, you get an amount of €382.
The two other components of your bill involve the transmission and distribution costs and the charges and surcharges. The amounts for these two components, which you pay to your supplier, do not remain with the supplier as the supplier passes them on to the various operators (distribution and transmission) and to the State (charges and surcharges).
In addition, regardless of supplier, the amounts for these two components are identical since the transmission and distribution activities have not been liberalised. This means that the comparison made by CREG Scan only applies to the energy part of your bill, the component the consumer can influence by comparing and choosing a more competitive contract.
This means, quite simply, that the tool is always based on the average Belgian consumption for a three-person household, in other words 3,500 kWh for electricity (single-rate electricity meter) and 23,260 kWh for gas. Even though these consumption figures are not representative for smaller households, larger families or people with another type of meter (dual-rate meter or night-only meter), CREG Scan gives a fairly broad and representative idea for the entire Belgian population. However, you can contact us on 0800 37 369 if you want to receive a more accurate estimate of how competitive your current contract is.
If the user fills in just the first four fields, they will receive a result containing all the price plans for the selected supplier, as shown in the image below.
This includes active and dormant products that are or were available for all consumers, including residential customers and the self-employed and SMEs. This test does not therefore include the products offered in connection with energy group purchases or those from cooperative companies, such as Aeco (for which you need to purchase a share before you can access the offer).
The user has to do two searches, one after the other.
As a rule, when you sign a contract with a supplier, they give you a rate sheet or a rate card that shows the name of your product. If you are unable to find the name of your electricity and/or gas product, you can contact one of the Energyprice.be advisers on 0800 37 369.
For example, if you signed up at the end of a month, your contract may have started the following month. Once again, our comparison site advisers are here to help you with your searches.
If your consumption is higher than this, you can contact our business to business renegotiation service (B2B) on 04/242.47.67.
In view of the above information, price-conscious consumers should proceed in two stages.
CREG Scan offers a number of benefits and allows Belgian households to compare their current deal, whether dormant or active, with the deals currently available on the Belgian market. It’s easy to use, and it takes just a few minutes for the user to find out whether their deal is still competitive.
However, CREG Scan does have a few limitations, particularly concerning the consumption figures used for the comparison (those for an average three-person Belgian household). So it is essential for anyone using this test to visit an online comparison site as a second stage. The comparison site will provide the user with a personalised offer, based on actual consumption data, and, above all, will allow them to switch supplier in a matter of minutes.
CREG press release, “CREG Scan: reactivate a dormant contract in 6 clicks”, PDF.