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Four in five consumers worried about the cost of energy this winter

Many people plan to ration their energy usage to help afford their bills.

Research published today by Switcher.ie shows the majority of Irish consumers are worried about the cost of energy this winter, and many plan to ration their energy usage at home as a result.

With the dark nights well and truly here, and temperatures dropping by the day, rationing energy usage could mean people will be sacrificing their comfort - and their health - this winter.

Energy price rises adding to bill worries

Seven of the ten energy suppliers in the Irish market have announced price rises, adding up to €57 to the average electricity bill and up to €25 to the average gas bill.

When the research was carried out - just prior to these increases - four in ten consumers said that they would struggle to afford their energy bills if the cost of energy was to rise this winter, while two in ten said they would not be able to afford their energy bills at all.

How to save on your energy bills

The research is a serious wake-up call about the cost of energy in Ireland, but the good news is that there are ways to save on your energy bills without going cold.

In fact, the average household can save up to €342 by switching from typical standard tariffs to the cheapest deals on the market. Switching only takes a few minutes, and all suppliers use the same pipes and cables to supply energy to your home, so you don’r need to worry about a loss in service.

Switch now

You can also save by taking some energy saving measures measures around the home.

Eoin Clarke, Switcher.ie’s Managing Director, says: “There are lots of good ways to conserve heat in the home, which should help you to reduce your energy consumption. These include sealing off draughts, closing the curtains to keep heat in, and closing doors between rooms to prevent heat escaping.”

Are there any government initiatives to help with energy bills?

If you don’t think switching and taking energy-saving measures around the home is enough to make your energy bills manageable, it’s worth investigating schemes that can help.

  • The Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment - if you’re dependent on long-term social welfare payments and are unable to provide for your own heating needs, you may be eligible. The allowance is normally paid for 26 weeks of the year, with a weekly payment of €22.50. The payments started at the beginning of October, and back payments are not available, so if you think you might be eligible, check out the information from the Department of Social Protection office and apply as soon as possible.
  • If you’re not eligible for the Fuel Allowance, you may still be able to get either an Electricity or Gas Allowance under the Household Benefits Package. You can qualify for this if you’re over 70 - but people under 70 also qualify in certain circumstances. If you’re eligible, you’ll get either an Electricity or a Gas Allowance of €35 per month, which in most cases will either be paid to your bank or post office account or to your supplier, who’ll then deduct it from your bills.

There are also government schemes available to help eligible consumers get energy-efficiency improvements - like attic insulation, lagging jackets and cavity wall insulation - made to their home free of charge. The SEAI has more information on these home grants.