Ulster householders faced more bad news today when it was announced that electricity bills are set to rise by 3.9% from November 1.
Northern Ireland Electricity blamed rising gas prices for the tariff hike, and said that the increase was still below the current inflation rate of 4.1%.
The revised tariff, which has been approved by the Utilities Regulator and the Consumer Council, will hit all 690,000 of NIE's standard tariff domestic customers.
The company's 45,000 Economy 7 customers, who rely on electricity for heat and light, will face a 3.9% increase for daytime usage, but night-time power costs will go up by 14%.
In April, NIE reduced its tariffs by 3% after wholesale gas prices fell back but this time NIE, whose annual review will now take place each autumn, said it had no choice but to pass on the increased costs.
NIE spokeswoman Kerstie Forsyth said: "The tariff increase announced today reflects higher wholesale gas and coal prices which have taken effect since April, as well as environmental and carbon costs.
"NIE's domestic electricity price remains 8% below that of ESB in the Republic, when VAT is included, and is in line with the tariffs in comparator regions in Britain."
The Consumer Council described the increase as "unwelcome but reasonable".
But it said the increase in Economy 7 night-time prices was a "body blow" to subscribers, who would have to fork out an extra £50 a year.
Sinead Dynan of the Consumer Council said there was an urgent need to replace Economy 7, which she said was now "well past its sell-by date".
NIE said the overall increase would have been 1% more had it not been for a £5.6m funding package provided by the Department of Enterprise.
Business customers, who traditionally pay higher tariffs, face a lower average increase of 1%, and some will see their bills decrease.
The main beneficiaries are the 33,000 small and medium-sized business customers who will enjoy a tariff decrease of 2.8%. But the 18,000 business customers who use larger quantities of power at night-time and weekends will face increases of up to 6%.
NIE said the new standard domestic tariff would add around 28p a week or £14.60 a year to the average household bill, which will be £385 from the start of next month.
Phoenix Natural Gas is also to review its tariffs from November 1, and is currently in negotiation with the Utilities Regulator and the Consumer Council.