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Sinead Ryan: Don't just shrug as prices rise -- find yourself a better deal

Honestly, they're like lemmings -- no sooner does one utility company jump off the cliff than they all follow.

That's how it must seem to hard pressed customers faced with even more price hikes for services they simply can't do without: heat and light.

Airtricity has announced it's putting up electricity prices by 12pc, and gas by a whopping 21pc. This follows Bord Gais's recent move -- although its increases have to be approved by the Energy Regulator. And ESB customers needn't get smug -- you're going to be following suit before the year's out.

A worldwide increase in energy prices, the instability in the middle east and even the earthquake in Japan get the blame.

Most consumers don't care why; they care about how much it's going to cost. For electricity, expect to pay about €130 more a year bringing the average bill up to €1,100; gas will be up by €170, tipping €900 for the service next year. That's an extra €300, or €25 a month for no extra benefit.

Is there anything you can do to cut costs? There certainly is -- but my advice is do nothing until October when all price hikes are known.

Then sit down, with determination, and find a better deal.