More than 200,000 Northern Ireland households will see their gas bills jump in the next month, with supplier Firmus Energy today announcing a price hike and SSE Airtricity having done so last week.
Here's how gas prices are going up:
- SSE Airtricity is increasing prices for its 140,000 customers in the Greater Belfast area by an average of 7.6% from Friday 31 March.
- Firmus Energy is raising prices for its 50,000 customers in the Greater Belfast area by an average of 12.2% from Friday 7 April.
- Firmus Energy's also hiking prices for its 30,000 customers in the 'Ten Towns' region, which covers Londonderry/Derry, Limavady, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Portstewart, Newry, Craigavon, Antrim, Banbridge and Armagh. Customers will see an average 12.2% increase from Friday 31 March.
Unfortunately there's little customers in the 'Ten Towns' region can do to save on their gas, as Firmus is currently the only supplier for the region. If you're in Greater Belfast it's worth checking you're on the cheapest tariff, though there's not much difference in price between the two suppliers at the moment.
While there aren't big savings to be had by switching gas supplier, many can save over £100/year by switching their electricity. For more info, plus tips on cutting your gas usage to save, see our Cheap Northern Ireland Energy guide.
How much will bills go up by?
SSE Airtricity prepay and credit customers will see their bills rise by an average of £36/year.
For Firmus Energy, its customers in Greater Belfast will see prices rise by an average of £57/year, while those in the 'Ten Towns' supply region will see bills go up by an average of £66/year.
What do the suppliers say?
An SSE Airtricity spokesperson said: 'We're sorry we have to increase gas prices at this time – however, in the last year wholesale natural gas prices on global markets have increased by more than 50%."
A spokesperson for Firmus Energy said: "We understand the importance of price stability for customers and apologise for having to increase prices. Over the past three years we have been able to reduce or maintain our prices. We appreciate this is not good news for customers – however, this tariff change is driven by the rising wholesale natural–gas commodity market."
SSE Airtricity's hike and Firmus Energy's increase in the Ten Towns area were examined and approved by the Utility Regulator – it said it recognised that a rise in international wholesale prices had resulted in "significant cost increases" for both suppliers.