We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo

'Harder and harder to make ends meet': Your stories about coping with high energy costs

Readers have detailed their experiences in dealing with high energy prices.

THE HIGH COST of energy has remained in stark focus throughout the last year.

Families and businesses have struggled with the increased cost of basic utilities such as gas and electricity, with energy companies blaming high prices on the ongoing attack on Ukraine and post-Covid disruption.

However, in recent weeks the wholesale cost of energy has begun to fall, with energy companies now under pressure to begin reducing the burden placed on customers across the board.

Earlier this week, Electric Ireland confirmed that it would start cutting energy bills for businesses but that a price reduction for household customers would not yet be introduced.

This raised some eyebrows, with Government ministers calling on the energy provider to explain why they were categorising cohorts of billpayers differently.

On Friday, Finance Minister Michael McGrath was pointed in his response to the price drop, calling for Electric Ireland to treat all customers “fairly and equally”.

“It didn’t take very long for the prices to go up when wholesale prices increased and now that they have come back down, we do need to see those reductions being passed on to customers who are under pressure because all of this can’t fall on the government; it can’t all fall on taxpayers to step in and provide support every time,” McGrath said.

Earlier this week, we asked The Journal readers to reach out and detail their experiences of dealing with high energy prices over the last few months.

Here’s what they had to say:

‘I can’t sustain further rising costs’

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said that they had seen a massive spike in their energy costs, despite opting to have a heat pump installed in their home.

The reader, who is blind and receives the Blind Pension, said that they had the system installed as a cost-saving measure and believed it would help save them money.

“I used oil and coal before I got this system installed so I thought I’d actually save money,” they told The Journal.

They said that their first bill with the new system cost €269, but that in January there was a massive spike, with the latest bill costing them €549.

“I’m dreading my March bill as the only way is up,” they said.

I put money weekly onto my bill but I can’t sustain further rising costs.

‘Harder and harder to make ends meet’

One reader, Jules, told The Journal that while her electricity bills have remained manageable in recent months thanks to her recent installation of solar panels – alongside the Government’s €200 energy credit – her gas bill gas continued to creep up.

“I’ve cut back on using my heating and had 25% affinity discount yet I’m paying more for gas than before,” Jules said.

She said that with her most recent bill, she did not have the funds available in her bank account to meet the direct debit and has since been fined by her bank.

It’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet.

“Everything has gone up from diesel to food; bins to broadband; mortgage to insurance. It’s stressful.”

‘Nice things have had to go’

Kate, from Dublin, said that “everything was completely fine in our house” until bills for December and January landed.

“Our electricity bill had tripled, as had our gas bill. Even with the government credit, the combined total was over €1,300,” Kate said.

“The cost of everything has skyrocketed, from groceries to insurance, so adding on extremely high energy bills will force us to choose either light or heat.

Our budget is totally skewed and out of date now.

“I’m struggling to see how I’ll be able to keep up with costs if the numbers keep going up.”

The 27-year-old said that she has cut back on other spending to deal with the rising costs, adding that she is being “more careful” on food shops to ensure there is money left to pay for her energy bills.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to examine if enough is being done to tackle food poverty in light of the cost of living crisis. Support this work>

“The ‘nice things’ have had to go altogether – no new clothes, no trips away. It sounds frivolous, but life has to have some bright moments,” Kate added.

When asked if she would struggle with bills over the next several months, Kate said: “ I can’t envisage a life in Ireland in which I don’t struggle with something.

“Energy costs will keep going up as long as utility providers know they can get away with charging people huge amounts.

“It’s too easy for customer service representatives to shrug people off with the excuse of the war – and then turn around and slash prices for business customers.

“I’m trying to save for the future at the moment and I can see the monthly transfers into my savings account getting smaller and smaller.”

€2k electricity bill

One reader who reached out to The Journal simply attached their most recent electricity bill from Energia.

In total, the reader was charged €2,159.95 for the two-month billing period.

Cutting back on other expenses

Another reader told The Journal that they have done their best to try to reduce their energy costs by cutting down on their use, saying that they have changed their habits.

“I now use two duvets within my duvet cover so as to keep warm in bed. I always wear a jumper, socks and slippers around the house. I keep the curtains and blinds closed at night and I make sure curtains are not blocking the heat from the radiators,” they said, adding that this allows them to only use the heating when it is very cold.

“As a result of the above, I haven’t received any eye-watering bills, although they have got higher,” the reader said.

Surprised by electricity bill

One 82-year-old reader, Diana, said that she was surprised with her most recent bill which totalled €643.

She told The Journal that she has been sparing with her use of lighting in the house, and as she lives alone, only uses her dishwasher once every two days and her washing machine once a week on a low heat.

She added that she does use an electric heater for her dog at night, but that she intends to better insulate her 200-year-old house to cut down on its use.

“I plan to get strip lighting for occasional use in two rooms instead of lightbulbs and increase my shared water pump contribution. Those measures and extra insulation in the porch may reduce my bill a bit further.

“If not maybe I’ll go back to hurricane lamps.”

‘We find it very hard to save’

Another reader, who lives in Swords, says that they never thought they would be in this situation, but that they are “really feeling the strain” of high energy costs.

They told The Journal that they are a family of five, with an adult child and two teenagers.

“I wouldn’t have considered us under financial pressure at all, up until now,” they said.

“Our mortgage has increased by over €200 in the last few months, this coupled with the gas and electricity bills has put major strain on us now.

“We are paying at least €600 per month on energy bills and that is with government credits. Our gas is off the scale.

“I can safely say we are struggling now to meet our normal outgoings now with increases.

We find it very hard to save even though we both work full time. 

The reader added that they have since removed their gas fire due to the high cost and have replaced it with “a real fire to heat the house”.

They called for the Government to work more with energy companies and prevent them from hiking prices “as they wish”, rather than providing credits that are “swallowed up by rising costs”.

“If I am in a contract with an energy provider, I cannot get out of it, but they are allowed change their prices throughout this time,” they added.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel