Energy supplier Flogas has become the first to offer a fixed energy deal in the Irish market in almost three years.
The move could indicate that the worst of the energy price rises is coming to an end.
Energy prices have doubled for households, with 61 separate price-rise announcements in the last year and a half.
Other suppliers are now expected to offer similar fixed-rate deals, a move that could give some relief to put-upon households.
The Flogas offer covers electricity, gas and dual-fuel, and will mean those who take it up will have certainty over what they pay for a year. The standing charge is also fixed.
And the unit prices being offered are among the most competitive in the market.
This is despite the fact that fixed energy deals are often more expensive than variable deals, according to Daragh Cassidy of Bonkers.ie.
On top of this, Flogas is offering €300 welcome credit to those signing up to a dual-fuel plan, and €150 welcome credit to those who sign up to a gas or electricity plan only.
Fixed energy deals are a feature in most other countries, but the last fixed deal to be offered in Ireland was in 2020, from Budget Energy and Iberdrola, which have now both left the market.
Mr Cassidy said: “It’s been a tough time for energy customers as we all know.
“Given all the uncertainty, many households have been asking for fixed energy deals where they’re guaranteed a price for their gas and electricity for a year or so. However, these haven’t been available in recent years until now.
“These deals can offer certainty to households and help with budgeting. And the ones from Flogas are good value (if you could use that word in today’s market).
He said that fixed energy deals are more expensive than variable energy deals as households are forced to pay for the certainty of locking in a price for an entire year.
Mr Cassidy said most households who use an average amount of gas and electricity will find these deals among the cheapest in the market right now.
He added that a fixed deal may not be suitable for everyone but it’s good to see that consumers now have the choice.
However, Mr Cassidy said that the downside of a fixed energy deal is that the price of gas and electricity might fall during your contract.
This would mean that people who sign up for a fixed rate will be locked into paying the higher price for the remainder of the year.
“No one can say for certain how energy prices will pan out over the next year or so,” said Mr Cassidy.
“Although wholesale energy prices have eased slightly in recent weeks, the outlook is still very uncertain.
"In December the wholesale price of electricity shot up again having fallen for a few months in a row. So this is a risk consumers have to weigh up.”
Those who sign up for the deal can break their contract, but they will be hit with a €50 per fuel early-exit fee and may also have to pay back any welcome credit they got.
The new fixed-rate offer from Flogas will mean it’s the second cheapest provider after Electric Ireland for electricity at €2,036 a year for a typical household, when the cash-back is included. Electric Ireland’s electricity costs work out at €2,021 a year.
For gas, Flogas is cheaper at €1,638 a year under the new fixed-rate offer.
When it comes to dual fuel, Flogas has also emerged as the cheapest with its fixed rate coming in at €3,674 a year when the welcome bonus is included, Bonkers.ie calculated.
Flogas said the fixed-rate deals were limited offers, which reflects current market conditions and will be reviewed as conditions change.