Choosing an energy deal needs to be done carefully! To avoid disappointment and to make sure you benefit from the savings promised, start by checking the quality of the comparison tools available.
Energy is a subject that is mentioned and debated time and again in the media, online, or in person with family and friends. The issues discussed include prices, electricity and gas suppliers, market trends and ever-increasing bills. And people who have never changed energy supplier are often told: “Have you never changed supplier? You should do an online comparison like I did – the whole thing was sorted out in a matter of minutes!” Comparing suppliers is the right thing to do, but only if you use a reliable comparison site.
That’s why we have put together this article for you. Its aim is to differentiate between the various comparison tools available online, while highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each.
There are lots of websites that allow consumers to compare the different electricity and gas deals available on the Belgian market. These comparison tools are generally available to individuals, but also to companies and SMEs up to a certain consumption threshold (50,000 kWh of electricity and 100,000 kWh of gas).
There are three types of online comparison tools:
Preference is given to the first two categories. The comparison tools in the first category are the ones set up by the Regions, which means no errors are possible. Those in the second category are also acceptable since they are CREG-approved. This means they are required to display the official prices in their pricing plans.
By contrast, the comparison tools in the third category should be used with caution. They are not CREG-approved, which means users run the risk of pricing or calculation errors or a lack of information.
Each Region has set up a web portal to compare the rates of electricity and gas suppliers. These portals are provided by the regional regulators and are subject to federal regulations.
These platforms are available to residential customers and to SMEs and the self-employed, who can use them to enter their consumption data on the comparison sites and obtain unfiltered details of the various pricing plans offered by all the suppliers.
In Belgium, supply licenses are differentiated according to the three Regions and each Region has its own simulation and comparison tool.
The regulator for the electricity and gas market in the Walloon Region is called CWaPE, which stands for “Commission wallonne pour l’Energie” (Walloon Energy Commission). It is the official regulatory body for the Walloon electricity and gas markets. The CWaPE comparison site is called “COMPACWaPE”.
The regulator for the electricity and gas market in the Flemish Region is called VREG, which stands for “Vlaamse regulator van de energiemarkt” (Flemish energy regulator). It is the official regulatory body for the Flemish electricity and gas markets. The VREG comparison tool is called “V-TEST”.
The regulator for the electricity and gas markets in the Brussels Region is called Brugel. It is the official regulatory body for the Brussels electricity and gas markets. Its simulation tool is called “Brusim”.
In addition to the tools provided by the regional regulators, CREG (Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation) also offers an online comparison tool: CREG Scan. One useful benefit is that it shows the position of your current contract in relation to the cheapest and most expensive contracts on the market.
In addition to the regional gas and electricity comparison tools, there are some private CREG-approved comparison tools. At the moment, EnergyPrice.be is the only price comparison tool approved by CREG. It offers the following benefits:
The CREG label guarantees that the organisation accessed is independent from the electricity and gas suppliers.
To qualify for this certification, the platform must:
With this label, you can be sure that the prices shown will be correct, in terms of both energy rates (which vary depending on the supplier) and transmission and distribution rates (which are regulated by the network managers). In other words, you can be confident that all the items appearing on your electricity and/or gas bill are accurate.
When doing a comparison, the volume of information obtained may seem rather daunting at first. To help you more effectively compare and identify the results that best match your consumption profile, EnergyPrice.be provides a free and independent personal telephone support service. In addition, to ensure genuine expertise in the Belgian energy sector, the advisers who assist you are located in Belgium and are trained to help you understand your energy bill.
This is great opportunity for consumers wishing to benefit from expert assistance. The support service is available from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), from 8.45am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
Need a quick answer to a question? A fast, simple and efficient online chat service has also been set up on EnergyPrice.be. Simply ask your question at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. You can also use the chat directly via a dedicated web page. The operational hours for the chat are the same as for the telephone support service.
No support service would be complete without email assistance. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions and receive an answer within two business days when you contact our team. You can also attach your latest electricity and/or gas bills (statements) and then receive a comprehensive comparative assessment.
For consumers interested in their electricity supplier’s renewable energy aspect, the score issued by Greenpeace for each supplier is an important source of information. The NGO has set up a rating system to assess the investment in green energy made by your current energy supplier or any other supplier.
We have included this score in our price comparison tool so that you can take the environmental aspect into account.
Some providers offer introductory benefits, in addition to their pricing plan, in order to attract new customers. These special offers often mean a significant discount on the consumer’s annual bill and are usually exclusive (available only via the comparison site).
If you would like to find out whether you may be eligible for certain benefits, our energy advisers will be happy to answer all your questions on 0800 37 369, or by email at email@example.com.
Do you have a question, or do you simply need reassurance after changing supplier? The energy advisers at EnergyPrice.be are able to answer any queries you may have about your future rates or your account.
On our platform, you can also take out a new energy contract immediately after doing your comparison. This will save you from wasting time switching between different platforms or forms, and means you can concentrate your activity in one place.
Finally, if you move house, you may need personalized support to manage your energy contracts. Not all comparison websites can necessarily help you complete this process smoothly. On EnergyPrice.be, however, you can rely on our advisers to guide you through the necessary steps. For example, when you move house, you can send us your energy transfer document (PDF) so that we can provide you with a simulation for your new home. If you have any questions about the energy steps you need to take when you move house, please let us know!
As in many other areas, you need to exercise caution when it comes to the information you collect, and adopt a critical approach to avoid being deceived.
There are a large number of sites available where you can compare electricity and gas rates, but their approach is sometimes influenced by a preferential partnership with one supplier or another.
The electricity and gas regulatory commission penalizes this type of approach by withdrawing its approval. The results obtained may be biased and there is no guarantee that the information provided is correct.
In order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, we strongly advise that you never rely on non-approved rates.
After reviewing the various energy simulation and comparison tools available online, the conclusion is final. It seems obvious to choose the comparison tools set up by the regulators as well as those approved by CREG, the federal regulator.
The major advantage of private CREG-approved comparison tools is the promotions offered by suppliers. These allow consumers to make substantial savings. In addition, including the Greenpeace ranking in our comparison tool allows the more environmentally responsible to opt for a genuinely green supplier. Furthermore, it might be sensible to choose an independent service that offers personal support, whether by email, telephone or instant messaging (chat).
If, on the other hand, the CREG label does not appear on a comparison site you visit, you should treat the results with caution. They may not be entirely unbiased or complete.
It’s now up to you to compare prices and reduce your gas and electricity bills!