Despite being the start of the holiday season for many, Friday brings the worst day of the year for consumers here with a raft of price hikes coming into effect.
The hikes include increases by gas suppliers SSE Airtricity and Firmus energy and electricity increases by Power NI and Click Energy and according to the Consumer Council, together with rising petrol and food prices, will add over £1,000 to the average home’s yearly bill.
The cost of gas and electricity has soared across Northern Ireland this year, with several increases announced as a result of the wholesale cost to suppliers and global factors such as the war in Ukraine.
Last month, SSE Airtricity announced a 42.7% rise in their prices with around 187,000 households in the Greater Belfast area affected and adding around £372 on to the typical household's annual bill.
Firmus energy’s increase of 24.5% in the Greater Belfast Network will add an extra £5.68 per week to the average household bill or £300 a year and will impact approximately 49,000 domestic and small business gas customers.
Announced in May, Power NI said they were increasing their electricity tariff by 27.5%, with the rise set to impact over 461,000 households here.
It means a typical customer with a credit meter will see their bill rise by around £204 per year and customers with a prepayment meter will see a yearly increase of around £199.
Northern Ireland’s smallest electricity supplier Click Energy will increase prices by 11% impacting around 26,000 customers and hitting the average annual bill by an extra £98 per year.
Last week, the Consumer Council in Northern Ireland said the combined rises and other rising costs such as petrol, means the average person here will need to find an extra £1,300 or more for bills in the coming year.
The council’s director of infrastructure and sustainability, Peter McClenaghan said: “Global increases in the price of purchasing and refining the crude oil that makes home heating oil, petrol, and diesel are having a devastating impact in Northern Ireland given we are the most car dependent UK region, our incomes are lower than the UK average, and two thirds of us use home heating oil.
“The combined effect of heating, electricity, and fuel price increases mean the average Northern Ireland consumer will have to find an extra £1,300 or more for bills in the year ahead.
“At the Consumer Council we speak to consumers every day who are upset and worried about the winter ahead. We urge anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bills or to top-up their meter, to contact their supplier directly for help with payment plans for bill pay / direct debit and prepayment meters.
"We also encourage bill pay consumers to submit your meter reading using your suppliers’ online or automated service to avoid any estimated bills. Also, we would ask consumers to think about ways they can reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency and, if possible, try to save over the summer months to cover energy costs during winter 2022-23.
“The financial support announced by the Chancellor will help pensioners, people with disabilities, and those on qualifying benefits. We know people are desperate for that support and we would ask those who will receive these funds, if you can, plan for heating your home this winter when deciding how to use the money you receive in July.
“There is also an urgent need for clarity on, if, how, and when the Chancellor’s £400 energy support package will be made available everyone in Northern Ireland.”