Starting on 1 October, 2022, Electric Ireland will be increasing household electricity bills by 26.7% and gas bills by 37.5%.
This will equal roughly €37.20 more for the average monthly electricity bill and €42.99 more for the average residential gas bill (figures from Electric Ireland based on the estimated annual bill from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities). VAT for both gas and electricity will continue to be calculated at the current, reduced rate of 9%.
In a statement released on 1 September, executive director of Electric Ireland Pat Fenlon said it was with “considerable reluctance” that this increase is occurring but is necessary due to it being an “unprecedented time in the energy industry, with increases to wholesale gas prices in excess of 700% over the last 12 months and 200% since June 2022 alone”.
This comes as the SEAI published Ireland’s energy balance for 2021 on 5 September. It shows that, while we have committed to reducing our energy emissions by 4.8% per year from 2021 to 2025 (as per the carbon budget), emissions for 2021 actually increased by more than 5%.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, emissions fell as Irish citizens were encouraged to work from home and had to stay within a 5km limit. Through the past year, as things slowly returned to some sense of normalcy, emissions rose back to 2019 (or pre-pandemic) levels.
A statement from SEAI director of research and policy insights Margie McCarthy says our energy emissions are moving in the opposite direction of where they need to be going.
“This means we have used a disproportionate amount of our carbon budget in 2021, which results in future years being even more challenging,” it reads. “Looking at the early data from 2022, this trend is worryingly continuing.”
Furthermore, McCarthy said that we need to speed up the deployment of renewable energy technologies within Ireland and also “drastically increase sustainable energy practices to curtail demand across all sectors of the economy.”
In correspondence with Irish Country Living, an SEAI representative said a collective response is needed from every household and business in the country. They are part of the Government’s current ‘Reduce Your Use’ campaign, whose website offers a variety of information on how best private homes and businesses can reduce energy consumption.
They say heating is the biggest energy user in the home and accounts for 60% of all energy use. They recommend using time and temperature controls for heating, lowering the thermostat to 20°C to save up to 10% on heating and getting any oil or gas boilers serviced – it will be safer, more reliable and economic to use. They also say that private car use accounts for 43% of all transport energy demand and finding low-carbon alternatives is necessary.
Of course, in rural Ireland many households rely on car travel, solid fuel for heating and are struggling with the current cost of living increases.
It’s not going to be an easy winter for anyone. For Electric Ireland customers expecting to have difficulty paying their gas and electricity bills this year, the company introduced its Electric Ireland Hardship Fund, which is now open for applications. The fund will be managed by St Vincent de Paul and MABS and will be issued in the form of energy credits to last over the winter months.
They also offer flexible payment options, including payment holidays (paying bills over 11 months instead of 12) or an equaliser product, which spreads energy costs into equal monthly payments.
In the coming weeks, Irish Country Living will be taking a close look at how energy increases will be affecting farming families, small business and rurally run charities. Readers can email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions on this topic that we can explore.