£2,100: our annual energy bill
Households in Northern Ireland are facing an annual energy bill of £2,100, the Consumer Council has said.
The warning comes as tough new tariffs for gas and electricity take effect from today following a recent price hike announcement.
With gas costs soaring by over 35% and power rising by almost 19%, the watchdog has said customers will have to pay an extra £200-a-year on heating and lighting their home. The bad news will affect everyone, but it will be of particular concern to those whose homes are already defined as being fuel poor.
Consumer Council chief executive Antoinette McKeown said some people would have to make tough choices about whether to eat or heat. “From today, the majority of households in Northern Ireland will have an energy bill over £2,100,” Ms McKeown said.
“This means more and more consumers in Northern Ireland will be making tough decisions as we head into the colder months and cutting back on other essentials if they want to keep warm.”
The latest official Government statistics on fuel poverty show that 44% of local households (or 302,000 homes) were in fuel poverty in 2009.
Since then, households here have suffered two of the coldest winters on record and significant energy price hikes.
Northern Ireland has the highest energy bills in the United Kingdom and recent statistics show the highest average UK bill is around £1,000 cheaper than the average combined oil and electricity bill here. “The Consumer Council does not believe electricity regulation and energy policy is working as well as it could for consumers,” Ms McKeown said.
“Electricity bills in Northern Ireland are around 11% more expensive than electricity bills in Great Britain. The profit levels of the electricity generators in Northern Ireland have a profit ratio of 33%, compared to the Top 100 Companies which have an average profit margin of 4%,” she said.
Competition is now available for all Northern Ireland electricity customers and natural gas customers in Greater Belfast and Larne. The Consumer Council has said people can help themselves by shopping around to ensure they get the best deal.