Energy poverty in Ireland has soared to the highest level on record, a study for the ERSI has found.
Energy poverty is defined as when a household spends more than a tenth of their net income on energy costs - excluding fuel for a car or motorbike.
Between January 2021 and April this year, the average household’s energy costs increased by €21.27 a week.
All in all, it means that 29% of Irish people are currently suffering from energy poverty - significantly more than the previous high of 23% recorded in 1994-5.
“Rising energy prices are having a substantial impact on households, many of whom were already experiencing energy poverty or deprivation,” Niall Farrell, who helped author the report, explained.
“Our research finds that, on average, these changes are more burdensome for lower income households, rural households and those at risk of poverty. This is because energy expenditures tend to comprise a larger share of income for these households.”
Those figures do not include spending of filling up a car; however, they come hot on the heels of a survey by the AA which found that 42% of drivers said their weekly food shop had been affected by the increased cost of filling up a tank, while 49% said they had been forced to cut spending on leisure activities.
“It now costs the average motorist of a petrol car €750 more than last year to fill their car for a year,” AA Roadwatch spokesperson Paddy Comyn told Newstalk.
“The average diesel driver now spends €640 more per year than last year.
“Certainly, for now it looks like prices are going up significantly judging by the increases over the last two weeks.
“If they keep increasing at this rate, it is only a matter of time before they reach €2.50 per litre.”
One in ten drivers have even started walking because of the high cost of fuel, while a further 9% have started using public transport instead.
Independent TD Michael Healy Rae says the current situation is intolerable and urged the Government to take action:
“This is not a problem of rural Ireland,” he told Newstalk.
“This is a problem that’s facing every man, woman and child in this country because we’re an island nation, we don’t have public transport all over the country, people need to move and get around, they need to work.
“This idealistic view that we can all jump on a bus or cycle everywhere we need to go - that doesn’t [work].”
Main image: An electricity bill is seen in this file photo. Picture by: Rosemary Roberts / Alamy Stock Photo