Tanya Fowles (Local Democracy Reporter)
£1,000 increase to consumer bills as wholesale energy prices continue to soar
John French, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator has today, 20 October 2021, warned consumers that gas and electricity bills may continue to increase until summer 2022.
Reacting to this announcement Peter McClenaghan, Consumer Council Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability, said:
“I described the energy price rises announced in September as the thin end of the wedge for consumers and, unfortunately, this is proving to be the case with pressure on household budgets continuing to increase dramatically.
“While the Utility Regulator’s statement focusses on wholesale gas prices and their impact on our gas and electricity bills, price increases are occurring across the global energy market which will have a significant impact on Northern Ireland consumers.
“Consumer Council figures show that the cost of home heating oil has doubled in the past year which is particularly concerning given that the majority of NI households still rely on home heating oil. Added to this, our figures show that the cost of petrol and diesel have also increased over 20% since last year.
“This is a worrying time for consumers as these fuel price increases are driven by factors outside their control and coincide with rising inflation, proposed tax rises and increasing food costs.”
Providing some examples of how these price rises will impact local people, Peter continued:
“Price rises mean that by December a typical consumer could see their combined energy and travel costs rise by nearly £1,000 year-on-year.
“The average householder in Antrim, who commutes to Belfast daily and whose home is connected to the gas network, could be spending £830 more on gas, electricity and petrol than last year.
“Meanwhile, an average householder in Banbridge, who commutes to Belfast daily and who has an oil boiler may have seen their bills rise by £1,240 a year.”
There are some steps consumers can take to try to reduce their energy and fuel costs, including:
Lowering your room thermostat by just one degree which can save you up to £75 per year. The Consumer Council provide further energy efficiency guidance on our website at Energy Efficiency Tips.
Switching payment option, changing billing method or switching supplier can save some money. The Consumer Council’s website has a free independent energy price comparison tool which empowers consumers to compare all electricity and gas tariffs across Northern Ireland in one place Energy Bill Comparison Tool.
Rethinking how you make your journeys, maintaining your vehicle properly, and making sure your tyres are properly inflated. You can also use our free fuel checker tool for a weekly guide to the best price within your area. It is available on our website at Fuel Price Checker.
Peter continued: “Importantly, consumers who are struggling with their energy bills should contact their supplier directly for help and information.
“The Consumer Council will continue to work with our Government Departments, energy companies and the Utility Regulator on the development of initiatives to help consumers experiencing payment difficulties.”