The arrival of seasonally colder weather drove a 29% increase in residential gas demand in October compared to the previous month, according to figures released by Gas Networks Ireland.

Demand from small businesses also rose a significant 106% during the month as heating was turned up across the country.

Gas demand from medical device manufacturing (2%), pharmaceuticals (4%), hospitals (5%), retail (5%), office (12%) and transport (299%) were all up year on year as well.

Gas Networks Ireland said the rise in transport was in part due to the opening of the second public Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station at the Circle K in Cashel.

However, while overall gas demand rose 1% in October, it was down 6% on the same month last year, with gas demand from laundry (-33%), construction (-30%), travel (-24%), hotels (-16%), education (14%) and leisure (-9%) all down year on year.

Total gas demand for power generation also fell 17% month on month and 10% year on year with strong wind conditions in October helping to increase the level of wind generation.

Gas demand for power generation is now only marginally up year to date, just shy of 2%.

Wind energy played a stronger role at times during the month, reaching as high as 75% of power generation at times, but gas continued to play a key role in generation, and achieved similar peaks during the period.

The food and beverage sector is flat year on year, although it is trending slightly downward in the second half of the year.

General manufacturing remains broadly in line with previous years.

Gas Networks Ireland's Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said they would normally expect a substantial increase in demand as we move from September to October.

"The increase only came in the domestic heating sector but even this was relatively modest as October was relatively mild.

"The impact of Covid-19 continues to affect gas usage, with certain sectors severely affected by Covid-19 showing year on year declines in gas usage.

"Despite this, overall gas usage generally remains in line with 2019 levels with continued growth in other sectors," he said.