Home heating costs will rise thanks to a carbon tax hike that kicks in today - sparking calls for the Government to defer the measure.
Announced in last October's Budget, the higher carbon tax on petrol and diesel was implemented on the night of the Budget. But the increased carbon tax on home-heating oil, gas, coal and briquettes was delayed until the start of May, a time when households use less energy.
The cost of an average household's annual gas bill will go up by €14 from this month.
This means carbon tax will now add €61 to the average natural gas bill, according to calculations by energy price comparison site Bonkers.ie.
This month's rise will add 14c to the price of a bale of briquettes, taking the total carbon tax on the fuel to 59c.
And a 40kg bag of coal will be 63c dearer from this month on.
A 900-litre fill of a tank of home-heating oil will rise by €15 due to the higher tax from today. Carbon tax now adds €65 to the overall cost of a tank of oil.
Chairman of the Consumers' Association Michael Kilcoyne called on the Government to defer the rises until after the pandemic has passed.
"This is very bad timing. There are around one million people depending on social welfare, so this carbon tax rise should be deferred because of the situation people find themselves in."
Mr Kilcoyne said the increase would hit older people who are cocooning, and it would be keenly felt in rural areas. And he warned that carbon taxes could rise even further in the years ahead if the Greens form part of the next government.
Asked if it could be deferred, a spokesman for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe would only say the tax rise takes effect from today.
Carbon tax was hiked by €6-per-tonne in October's Budget, and the Government insisted that the €90m in additional resources would be ring-fenced for climate action.
The tax is intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and is part of Ireland's strategy to support a greener and cleaner environment.
The tax does not apply to electricity, where the PSO (public service obligation) levy is applied. That levy adds €38.68 to electricity bills a year, when VAT is included, and is partly used to subsidise wind farms.
Daragh Cassidy of Bonkers.ie said it was a bad time to be raising taxes.
"With all that's going on right now due to Covid-19 and with hundreds of thousands of people having been laid off, this government tax increase couldn't have come at a worse time."
He said that the carbon tax rise would reverse price cuts announced recently by a number of energy suppliers.
He added that there was a huge debate worldwide as to whether a carbon tax was effective in reducing CO2 emissions given people still needed to heat their homes and use energy for the most basic of day-to-day tasks.
A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) last summer found that increasing tax on fossil fuels disproportionately hurts low-income earners, single-parent families and rural dwellers, unless the revenue generated by it is carefully shared out.