Cash-strapped households could see energy bill price hikes due to recent spikes in wholesale gas and electricity prices.
The warning comes as three of the six major energy companies in Britain announced price increases to their energy bills.
Last month, Scottish Power blamed increasing wholesale prices for a 7.8% rise in dual fuel prices which will hit a third of its 1m customers.
It came just a week after Npower announced price hikes of 9.8% and EDF confirmed a 1.2% price rise British Gas has said it will freeze prices until August, while the other major players in the market, SSE and E.ON, have yet to announce their plans.
According to the 2016 Vayu Energy annual report, the cost of buying natural gas on the wholesale market last year fell by an average of 19.2% compared to 2015, while the average price of electricity decreased by 17.9%.
Since the end of 2014, Bord Gáis Energy, Electric Ireland and Flogas have all cut their gas and electricity prices three times, while SSE Airtricity also cut their electricity prices three times.
However, in the last few months of 2016, wholesale energy prices have started to rise again — in particular, gas prices. For example, in October and November, gas prices rose by 39% and 15% respectively month-on-month.
Managing director of Switcher.ie, Eoin Clarke, said, due to the increase in wholesale prices, it “wouldn’t be a huge leap” to think that the price hikes being seen in Britain could start happening here after a run of price cuts.
Mr Clarke said increased competition in the market had resulted in savings for customers.
“Following years of price hikes, we’ve had a run of price cuts from energy suppliers since the end of 2014 which has been great for consumers.
In addition to these cuts, competition between energy suppliers to attract new customers has resulted in some of the biggest discounts ever seen in the Irish energy market,” he said.
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