Electric Ireland has said it is to increase its electricity prices by 4% from the beginning of February 2018.

The rise equates to €2.91 per month (€34.92 per year) based on a typical residential electricity customer with an annual electricity usage of 4,200 kWh.

The company, which is the retail division of ESB, said the rise was "unavoidable" due to "the backdrop of increasing wholesale energy costs".

Wholesale electricity prices have risen by 28% over the past year.

Electric Ireland's move follows similar price increases from both SSE Airtricity and Bord Gáis Energy in recent weeks, which will come into effect from the beginning of next month.

Electric Ireland said it will continue to give a 5% discount to customers who are in most financial hardship through industry prepayment meters and via the household budget scheme.

A €25 annual increase in the Public Service Obligation levy, which all electricity customers must pay, also came into effect at the start of October.

Commenting on today's Electric Ireland price increas, Managing Director of Switcher.ie Eoin Clarke said: "This is the third large energy supplier to announce a price increase in the last week, so the other suppliers are probably not far behind.

"The fact that the rise is not coming into effect until 1 February will be welcomed by Electric Ireland customers who are worried about the rising cost of energy as winter sets in."

He added: "According to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, only about 15% of us switch energy supplier each year, which means most of us are on standard energy tariffs.

"If you haven't switched in over a year, we would encourage you to take some time to review the deals that are out there  - the market is highly competitive so there are huge savings to be made by switching."