The average annual household energy bill is likely to rise by around €300 due to a number of price hikes announced by providers in recent months.

However, consumers are encouraged to continue switching providers at the renewal of their contracts as they could more than offset the increases.

There have been three main reasons for the price increases, according to Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications with the price comparison website,

As well as a hike in the price of fossil fuels on international markets, power plants have been out of action more often and for longer than usual of late and the level of wind output has been lower than normal in recent months.

"The price hikes have varied by supplier. Some have increased three times so far this year, which is almost unprecedented," Daragh Cassidy said.

"Taking the price increases together, you're looking at around €300 or more being added to the average annual household bill, so it's not an insignificant amount at all."

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The slightly better news, he added, was that the increases may be partially offset with the fall in the PSO levy, the portion of the bill that goes towards investment in renewable energy sources.

"That's coming down by €30 from around €88 last year to around €58 this year. It is a decrease - which is to be welcomed - but it's nowhere near enough to offset price increases that we're seeing," he said.

The best way to achieve savings, he advised, is to continue switching provider when the contract comes up for renewal.

"Despite rising prices, there is huge competition among the 14 suppliers in the market. They all offer huge discounts for the first year. The average switcher could save €500 a year by changing supplier which would more than offset the price hikes," Daragh Cassidy pointed out.

"It's quick and easy to switch. It can be all done online in the space of a few minutes. You don't even need to contact your existing supplier to let them know you're leaving."