Gas bills, protected market today ends: What needs to be done?

From Wednesday, January 10, Italians will have to say goodbye to the protected market on bills, which covers approximately 5.5 million vulnerable families. It’s a significant change for which you need to be prepared and have all the necessary information to avoid unpleasant surprises. As Codacons explains, commercial calls from specialist call centers and operators have proliferated in the last few hours, which is taking advantage of the moment of confusion to push users to sign contracts, fearing gas supply interruption if they cannot choose an operator. in the free market. It is an aggressive and wrong practice that carries the risk of huge economic harm to consumers and is a trap to avoid.

What do natural gas bills change for families?

Codacons conducted a survey to understand how much it would cost families to move to the free market if choosing a fixed or variable price contract. Examining the best offers of operators in the specific comparator published on the Arera website and taking into account the average consumption of a typical family of 1,400 cubic meters per year for cooking, heating and hot water production, we discover that the following contracts: Codacons offer a fixed price to vulnerable users, That is, it explains that it is significantly more expensive than the tariffs applied to those who will remain in the more protection regime.

The average gas bill is 1,905.43 euros per year, 14.56% heavier than the average bill Arera estimates for 2024 for users who will remain in the protected market (also taking into account the rebate of VAT to 10% and 22% from January) . A difference that equates to a larger expenditure equal to an average of +242.28 euros per family on an annual basis. The situation changes if you choose a variable price contract: in this case, the average gas bill considering the best offer is 1,620.55 euros per year, a saving of only -2.57% compared to protected tariffs in 2024. A lower expenditure of -42.97 euros per family per year.

For variable offers, compared to fixed price contracts on the free market, the difference currently equals -284.88 euros per family per year (taking into account the best offers). However, this is an imaginary saving, considering that as energy prices increase in the markets, the tariffs applied to users will also increase. “The transition to the free market has been confirmed to be a disaster for consumers, and according to our forecasts, the balance sheet at the end of operation will be negative, with an increase in gas supply expenses and a general worsening of the economic conditions imposed on users,” says chairman Carlo Rienzi.

Gas bills, no more protected market: what you need to know

Moreover, in order to help consumers, Codacons has also prepared a handbook with all the information and useful advice on the protected market, how to choose the manager and how to avoid the pitfalls:

one) Check whether you fall into the category of “vulnerable” customers and therefore have the right to remain in the protected market. The following people are defined as vulnerable by law: Owner over 75 years of age; Difficult economic conditions; Gas users in emergency shelter facilities after catastrophic events (such as earthquakes and floods); Disability in accordance with Article 3 of Decree Law No. 104/92. Anyone who is a customer of the gas protection service does not need to make any contact: in this case, if no offer from the free market is selected, they will automatically switch to the vulnerability protection service. Customers of the free market who comply with vulnerability requirements can ask their vendors to engage in vulnerability protection. To access the service, you can fill out the special declaration form on the Arera website. Vulnerability protection service provides the economic and contractual conditions defined by the Authority. These consist of a variable price on a monthly basis, determined by the monthly average of final price values ​​on the Italian wholesale market (PSV day ahead) and to which other fees determined by the Authority are added. The costs of the service, as well as any fees and taxes required by law.

2) Not sure if your gas contract is on the open market or protected service? All your invoices must include the words ‘Protection service’ or ‘Free market’. If you are a vulnerable customer and in the open market, you do not need to do anything: the terms set out in your existing contract will remain the same.

3) Take your time. Even if you do not choose a free market operator, no supply will be interrupted: anyone who has not already chosen a contract on the free market is automatically transferred to the ‘Placet’ supply, i.e. a free price with equivalent protection. conditions with the same seller. These are offers that all gas sellers in the free market must offer to families and small businesses on pre-determined contractual conditions determined by the Authority, but at prices freely determined by the seller.

4) There is no one saving rule that applies to everyone: the amounts we pay on the bill depend on many factors such as lifestyle habits, number of family members, gas usage times, hours spent at home, time spent in second homes, geographical location. location (e.g. properties in very cold regions etc.).

5) Choose the tariff that best suits your needs among fixed and variable tariffs, remembering that a fixed-price contract has a higher cost than variable tariffs, but guarantees the stability of expenses over time for the same consumption. On the contrary, the variable price contract offers more advantageous but market-linked tariffs: This means that if energy prices increase in international markets, the tariffs applied by our supplier will increase and therefore the bill will be deducted. heavier than.

6) Check the duration of bids for both fixed-price and variable-price contracts. In particular, fixed-rate offers have a predetermined period, usually 12 or 24 months, after which the applicable economic conditions change. Even with variable price contracts, operators offer discounts and promotions for a limited time.

7) Carefully check all contractual terms and expenses charged by the vendor and included in the invoice (sales fees at fixed annual quota, administrative and marketing costs, system fees; transportation, distribution and management of the meter; taxes, etc.). If in doubt, contact a consumer association.

8) Choose a supplier with good reviews, look on the Internet and specialized sites to find out the opinions of other customers. Check that it provides effective customer service, provides numbers and contacts to use in case of problems or information, and that these numbers are answered by physical operators and not pre-recorded discs.

9) Before choosing a vendor on the open market, without succumbing to the pressure of call centers contacting us to offer ‘advantageous’ contracts, compare the various offers in the appropriate comparator available on the Arera website and determine the offer that best suits our objectives. our lifestyle and needs.

10) Once you identify the best offers, contact suppliers directly to get better conditions and discounts. Incentives to reduce consumption, etc. Evaluate incentive programs that may benefit the bill, such as

Source: Today IT