Customers of Energia, Flogas, SSE Airtricity, Electric Ireland, Panda Power and Pinergy will see their energy bills rise in the coming weeks, after the suppliers announced price increases.

Energia is increasing its electricity prices by 7.6%, and gas by 12.7% in August. Flogas will raise its gas prices by 12.8% in August. Electric Ireland is hiking its electricity prices by 6.2%, and gas by 8.2%. SSE Airtricity also announced an increase in electricity and gas prices by 6.4% and 12.3% respectively, which come into effect from July 14.

Meanwhile, Panda Power and Pinergy today became the latest energy companies to announce an increase in their prices. 

The companies said reason for the increases is due to the rising cost of gas and oil on the wholesale international markets. 

"Unfortunately in Ireland we still import a lot of our energy and that means that we are very much at the mercy of price movements," Darragh Cassidy, Head of Communications with price comparison website, Bonkers.ie, explained. 


Mr Cassidy thinks other suppliers are likely to raise their prices too. "If I were a betting man, I would say they would. Last year, SSE Airtricity did something similar, they announced price increases at the start of the summer and by the end of the summer, seven out of 10 suppliers had followed suit. This year it's very much a case of deja vu. SSE were the first energy supplier to announce an increase and in the month of June alone, we've seen three others follow suit."

As temperatures rise, customers are not switching on their heating, but Mr Cassidy recommends switching energy supplier to save money. "We would always encourage people who have been with an energy supplier for over a year to look around, and look into switching. The utility providers often save their best rates for new customers. Our advice would very much be to switch and save. You could be looking at a saving of over €300 a year, just by switching from a standard rate to a discounted rate." Even if all suppliers end up increasing their rates, there is still value to be had, as consumers would still be on a discounted rate for the first year, he added. 

On the issue of mortgage rates, Ulster Banks said it was reducing its fixed rates and also announced a new two-year fixed rate. Mr Cassidy described the decrease as significant and something which has shaken up the mortgage market. "2.3% is severely undercutting the rest of the competition and it's now the lowest rate on the market so we're finally getting to the stage where we are beginning to access the rates that other Europeans have," he said. "The difference in the rates is just too great in my opinion for the other banks not to follow," he added.

New customers and existing customers will benefit from the new reduced mortgage rate at Ulster Bank. Customers on a fixed rate will have to see out the end of their fixed rate before accessing this rate, but existing Ulster Bank customers who are on a variable rate - which would probably be over 4% - can make huge savings if they switch. "If you're a customer from one of the other banks, we'd encourage you to look into switching. The savings over the lifetime of a mortgage can be absolutely huge," Mr Cassidy said.

The Central Bank has just announced changes to its consumer protection code that will take effect from January 2019. These changes will place a bigger onus on the banks to make clear to customers as to how they should save on their mortgages, and what they should do when they come to the end of a fixed rate. "At the moment when you come to the end of a fixed rate, you'll often be moved over to a higher variable rate. That will  change, so I would really encourage customers when they get to the end of a fixed rate, when they get their mortgage statement, to look at the rate they're paying and see what they potentially could be paying," Mr Cassidy said.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Research carried out by property website MyHome.ie has shown that house price inflation is beginning to ease. Asking prices annually rose by just over 7% in the second quarter of this year, compared to 9.5% in the year to the end of the first quarter. The stock of homes listed for sale on MyHome saw its first significant gain since 2015 - a sign of improving liquidity.

*** Nearly 22,000 jobs have been hit in a struggling retail sector in the UK. A report by PwC and the Local Data Company found 4,000 High Street shops opened last year but 5,800 closed. Sluggish sales, competition from online and rising costs have been blamed.

*** Manufacturing output in Ireland rose to a five month high in June on the back of higher client demand. New orders received were the best seen in 2018 so far, according to the latest Purchasing Managers Index from Investec.