Four in five Irish people are worried about the cost of energy this winter, according to the independent price comparison and switching service Switcher.ie.
The survey, involving 1,001 online interviews with Irish adults aged over 18 and carried out by iReach Insights, claims many are set to ration their household energy usage in a bid to keep a lid on bills following a raft of energy price increases.
It comes after Eurostat today revealed that Ireland has the fourth most expensive electricity prices in the EU.
The Eurostat research found that Irish households pay an average of 23.1 cent per kilowatt hour of electricity used, which is 13% higher than the EU average.
Only Denmark, Germany and Belgium have higher electricity prices than Ireland.
When VAT and other taxes are removed from calculations, Ireland, in fact, has the second highest electricity prices in the EU.
The Switcher.ie research found that 30% of respondents are rationing their energy usage to keep costs down, with another 34% saying they plan to do so, while 28% say they will be able to get through the winter without being forced to go without heating to manage their costs.
Their figures also show that 39% will delay switching on the heating for as long as possible, while 17% will occasionally go without heating. More worryingly, 13% will regularly go without heating.
Two-thirds, 63%, of those who intend to go without heating say that this could impact on their family’s health, while a similar number (62%) worry about the effect on their wellbeing.
Meanwhile, 68% say they are concerned that going without heating could lead to damp or other issues in their home, while 47% fear that going without heating at some stage still won’t be enough to make heating bills affordable.
Seven of the 10 energy suppliers in Ireland have announced price rises, adding up to 5.9% or €57 to the average household electricity bill and up to 3.4% or €25 to the average gas bill.
Prior to these increases, 43% said that they would struggle to afford their energy bills if the cost of energy was to rise this winter, while 18% said they would not be able to afford their energy bills at all.
More than half, 59%, said that if costs went up they would be forced to cut out non-essentials, such as eating out and trips to the cinema, in order to afford their energy bills. It could also have an impact on people’s plans for the festive season, with 54% saying they would cut back on Christmas spending, like presents and clothes, if energy prices went up.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “It’s worrying to see that so many households will resort to going without heating to make ends meet this winter.
"That’s why it’s crucial that consumers know that they can make significant savings on their energy bills without having to resort to turning off their heating at home. In fact, the average household can save up to €337 by switching from standard energy tariffs to the cheapest deals on the market.
“There are also lots of good ways to conserve heat in the home. These include sealing off draughts, closing the curtains to keep heat in, and closing doors between rooms to prevent heat escaping.
"And there are also government schemes available to help eligible consumers get energy-efficiency improvements made to their home free of charge, including things like attic insulation, lagging jackets and cavity wall insulation."