No household in the country will have their electricity or gas supply disconnected this winter, according to the Minister for Natural Resources.

Pat Rabbitte told a Joint Committee of the Oireachtas that he has agreed that there will be no disconnections with the energy companies, so long as families agree to a pay plan or agree to have a pay-as-you-go meter installed in their homes.

The minister also said that, contrary to the public perception, Ireland does not have the highest electricity prices in Europe.

He said electricity and gas prices are competitive, and compare favourably with prices across Europe.

Minister Rabbitte conceded that Ireland is very vulnerable to gas and oil prices, adding that prices had risen significantly and are 30% higher than last winter.

Meanwhile, all householders will have to switch from analog TV to digital TV by the end of 2012 or they will lose their television service, according to the Minister for Communications.

Mr Rabbitte said "a substantial information campaign" will begin later this year so that no one is left without the service.