Information about Registering As a Vulnerable Customer
We highly recommend that priority customers and vulnerable customers register with their utility providers so they can be at the top of the list for help if, and when, blackouts occur or the gas or water is cut off.
Customers should be aware that they will need to contact their utility suppliers to register as a vulnerable or priority customer.
Who is a vulnerable customer?
Vulnerable customers are defined as those customers who may be put at risk due to interruption of electricity, gas or water supply. For example, customers with medical conditions, or those who have certain communication requirements. There are three categories of vulnerable customer
Priority customers are customers who require life support equipment which needs electricity and/or water to run.
Elderly and disabled customers
These customers may be at risk when gas or electricity is cut off for a longer period. Elderly customers, to be considered vulnerable, must satisfy any of the following circumstances:
- They live alone
- They live with other elderly people
- They live with minors
People over 70 years of age are also eligible for the Free Electricity or Gas Allowance as part of the Household Benefits Package. This can save you €35 per month on your bill.
Special communication customers
This category consists of customers who cannot simply and easily pick up the phone should they be cut off, and may include:
- Visually impaired customers
- Hearing impaired customers
- Mobility impaired customers
Why register as a vulnerable or priority customer?
There are several important advantages to being registered as a vulnerable customer.
- Priority customers dependent on life support cannot be cut off at the suppliers request, unless for safety reasons (or if the customer requests it).
- Elderly customers cannot be cut off from electricity or gas during the colder months (from 1st November to 31st March).
- Suppliers must attempt to aid customers who might become vulnerable as a result of prolonged disconnection.
- For any customers who have visual impairments, both suppliers and network operators have to develop alternative - and standard - way of communicating with them. For example, in order to report an emergency situation, or to verify the identity of network or supplier representatives who call to their home.
- Also of great importance is that priority customers need to be made aware of any alternatives available should their supply be interrupted by circumstances beyond the supplier’s control, e.g. by a storm.
Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) supplier requirements regarding vulnerable consumers
All energy suppliers in Ireland must register customers, who apply as a vulnerable customer, using a standard application form. Exceptionally, where the customer is a priority customer, an extra application form will be needed for those who are dependent on life support equipment.
The supplier is responsible for completing the customer’s registration, and registering their details in the central database for vulnerable customers, which the network operators Gas Networks and ESB Networks Ireland and Irish Water can then access. This information must be updated by the supplier every two years after registering for the first time.
Electricity and gas suppliers must design a code of practice for vulnerable customers, and their implementation of it must be approved by the CRU. All applicants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
PAYG meters (Prepayment meters)
Even if a vulnerable customer requests one, suppliers are required to carefully examine whether a PAYG meter would be compatible with the needs of a vulnerable customer.
In situations where a customer’s impairment or particular circumstances might make it difficult for them to use or top up a PAYG meter, other alternatives to PAYG meters should be considered.
Each energy supplier has a code of practice regarding vulnerable customers, and different ways to register.
You can click on the links below to find out more about registering as a vulnerable customer with your supplier, in some cases there is a link to the registration form.
Remember you can contact the customer service number printed on your bill to get information about registering as a vulnerable customer.