January is a very tough month on many Irish households as people wait a long time for their first payslip since Christmas, making it hard to make ends meet.
With the cost of electricity, groceries and fuel soaring in recent months, people are strapped for cash and looking for any slight reprieve in their bills.
This month may actually see many thousands of homes getting their electricity for free, or with a large discount, thanks to a number of new payments.
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As many receive large bills after a cold couple of months and weeks of Christmas lights and cooking, there may be a nice surprise on your next bill - or two if you're an Electric Ireland customer.
As part of the government's Budget 2023 measures announced last September, each household was due to receive €600 in three energy bill credits of €200.
The first was paid out and deducted from bills in November while the second is landing in accounts this month. Most billpayers should notice the €200 credit on their online or postal bill.
A third credit will be paid out to customers in March while reports this morning suggest the government could add a fourth payment to the list for later this year.
There is an additional piece of good news this month for Electric Ireland customers. Before Christmas, the energy company issued announced that every one of its customers would receive a €50 credit to take some pressure of their bills.
The credit landed in accounts earlier this month and will therefore come off the next bill paid. That means most Electric Ireland customers will have credit of €250 to tackle their January bill.
For customer's who pay monthly bills, that would be more than enough to cover a full monthly bill while it would constitute around 75% of the average bi-monthly bill in Ireland.
Electric Ireland's gesture comes after the utility firm increased its prices three times in 2022. However, the company insisted it appreciated the challenges faced by all billpayers.
Speaking before Christmas, Executive Director Pat Fenlon described 2022 as "a very challenging year for energy customers, primarily as a result of increases in international gas prices.
"We are acutely aware of the pressures that customers face this Winter and, recognising these exceptional circumstances, Electric Ireland is forgoing profit from its residential electricity business. Electric Ireland’s residential customers can each expect to receive €50 credit in the New Year.”
The firm is also increasing its Hardship Fund to €5 million.
Mr Fenlon added: “In addition, increasing the Electric Ireland Hardship Fund by €2 million to bring it to €5 million, will help ensure the fund is accessible to those most in need of support during the Winter months.
“We are committed to helping any of our customers who experience financial difficulty. As always, we encourage any Electric Ireland customer who has difficulty in paying their energy bill to engage with us and we will work with them to put a manageable payment plan in place.”
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