Launch of the latest Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker survey results

The Utility Regulator has published the results of its fourth Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker survey

This research is repeated annually to gain ongoing insight into consumer outcomes, awareness and behaviour in the Northern Ireland domestic energy market. 

The research is vitally important to our work and allows us to measure and track the experiences of domestic consumers in the energy market over time. We also use the results to directly inform our regulatory policies and consumer protection work. 

This latest survey was carried out between October and November 2023 with a representative sample of over 1500 domestic consumers in Northern Ireland.

Areas covered in the survey included heating types, payments, interactions with energy suppliers, complaint handling, switching, payment difficulties, consumer protections and support services. 

Some key headline findings from respondents are:

  • Overall awareness of support services offered by electricity and gas companies has increased from 41% in 2022 to 51% in 2023.
  • Less than 5% of respondents in vulnerable circumstances have signed up to special services offered by energy companies to consumers who require extra support.
  • In both 2022 and 2023, the Tracker found that 43% of domestic electricity consumers were spending £100 or more each month, an increase from 2021 when only 13% of consumers reported spending this amount.
  • 42% of domestic gas consumers were spending £100 or more each month compared to 48% of consumers in 2022. Although decreasing, the percentage of consumers spending £100 or more per month remains high in comparison to 2021 when only 9% of consumers were spending this amount.
  • 9% of electricity and 10% of gas domestic consumers say they have gone without other essentials to pay for their energy at least once in the previous year.
  • 20% of electricity and 21% of gas consumers who use a prepayment meter reported running out of credit and going without energy. Of these electricity consumers, 13% were without energy for one day or longer and 51% had gone without for financial reasons.
  • 83% of respondents reported that they would be unwilling to pay extra on their energy bills for future investment in any of the following projects – projects to protect the environment, to provide extra support for consumers in vulnerable circumstances or to improve the reliability of the network. This compares to 63% in 2022 and 54% in 2021 who were unwilling to pay extra on their bills for these investments. 
  • 82% of consumers who did not have internet access had never switched their electricity supplier, and 76% had never compared their electricity deal.
  • There has been a decrease in customer engagement with written communications received from their supplier. 50% of electricity customers reported reading their correspondence in full, compared to 56% in 2022, while 49% of gas consumers reported reading their correspondence in full, compared to 54% in 2022. 

Our infographic summarises the key findings of the survey. We have also published the full report.