Households could be washing clothes and dishes at night if the government does a deal with power companies to combat soaring energy bills.
The Government is considering using mandatory time-of-day-pricing for electricity, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan revealed on Thursday.
It could see people switch on their dishwasher or washing machine later in the evening to save money when power would be cheaper.
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The measure is being floated following Energy Minister Ryan’s meeting with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which is the watchdog for Ireland’s energy and water companies.
But households could opt out if they still wanted to use lots of electricity during the day – but it would be more expensive.
Minister Ryan said :“I think one (measure) that could be really effective is to give time-of-day-pricing, make that mandatory.
“Then you would switch on the dishwasher, the washing machine at 8 pm or 9pm , not at 6pm when it’s expensive. Or you would have to opt out of it if you wanted to.
“The benefit from that is you save money, we don’t have to turn on as many gas points at that peak point and it’s putting the power back in the hands of the consumer to help address these really hard bills.
“We will come forward in the coming weeks with a number of other measures such as that to try and help address the real crisis we have which we don’t know how long this is going to last for.
“We’re going to have to do a whole lot more..the [measures] are going to have to be targeted at those houses at risk of fuel poverty.
“Russia last week was looking that they were threatening in effect to switch off the gas and oil to Europe which would see a further spike in prices that are already beyond historic any compare.”
He also confirmed the €200 energy credit should begin to come off people’s bills from next week.
Minister Ryan told the Dail he will meet with energy providers again and ask them to consider putting all customers on the beneficial package that new customers get.
His comments come as Taoiseach Micheal Martin moved to play down any fears of a shortage of fuel this winter and warned the public there was “no need” for panic buying.
He said the Government is focused on “security of energy supply before we head into the winter.”
Asked if he was confident there is a 90-day supply in Ireland, Mr Martin said: “Yes. There is no need for that [panic buying].
“The very important point is this. This is a longer haul than people might have anticipated because of the war in Ukraine.”
Mr Martin also indicated that the Government may expand the eligibility for those who can avail of the fuel allowance – something Sinn Fein has been calling for.
He also indicated that social protection measures to help families with children are up for discussion.
He said: “The increase in the fuel allowance that we’ve already brought in, it’s been quite significant – it has doubled now since this Government came in.
“But I think we need to go further on that and perhaps expand eligibility around the fuel allowance.
“But also families with children, that we would take steps through social protection, that we would protect families with children and give them extra help and extra assistance.”
However, Mr Martin defended the Government’s handling of cost-of-living increases, saying you “cannot react on a weekly basis.”
His comments come as Electric Ireland are the latest supplier to announce they are increasing energy prices which will see combined annual rises between gas and electricity increase by €500 for the average household over the past 18 months.
Speaking to RTEs Claire Byrne show, the Taoiseach said there was a palpable feeling of “uncertainty” over energy prices and energy supply at the European Council meeting in Brussels last week.
He said: “We’re going to have to stand back a bit now in terms of preparing for the next budget and take the longer view in terms of the implications of this war on our fiscal situation as well as expenditures.”
He said the Government can’t make any predictions about the upcoming Budget such as changes to the VAT rate on energy products due to the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine.
And also said the carbon tax which is due to be introduced in May, is needed to “enable us to do energy efficiency, for example, due to retrofitting homes which is ultimately a better way to get people to have lower bills well into the future.”
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty accused Minister Eamon Ryan and the Government of failing to bring in measures that would effectively reduce bills.
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