Almost a quarter of gas customers in arrears on their bills
Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

New data from the energy regulator shows a fall in the number of households behind on their energy bills. However the number of gas customers in arrears remains at historically high levels.

Despite the recent fall in energy prices, costs remain high for consumers. Indeed gas and electricity prices in Ireland are currently among the most expensive in all of Europe.  

So it's unsurprising that some households may be struggling to stay on top of their bills.  

The latest report from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) on arrears and disconnections in the energy sector sheds some light on how people are coping. 

Looking at the numbers 

According to the CRU, in the final quarter of last year (October to December) just over 243,000 households were in arrears on their electricity bills. 

This represents 11% of all households and is a fall of over 31,000 compared to the previous quarter. It's also well below the more than 283,000 households who were in arrears in Q1 of 2022 when numbers were at their peak.   

The fall means that the number of households that are behind on their electricity bills, although quite high, is back to where it was in 2020 before the energy crisis kicked off.  

Government support in the form of energy credits, a mild winter, and a recent reduction in energy prices have all likely contributed to the fall.

Several suppliers have also set up hardship funds to help those in trouble and this may have helped reduce the numbers in arrears too.

For gas customers, the situation isn't as 'rosy'. 

Just over 153,000 households were in arrears in the last quarter of 2023. This represents a fairly hefty 22% of all gas customers but is a fall of almost 7,000 compared to the previous quarter.

However it's a big increase on the roughly 109,000 who were in arrears as recently as 2020. 

Should we be worried?

The CRU report doesn’t shed much light on how deep someone is in arrears – did they just miss one payment? Or far more? Are they behind by €50 or €500? We don’t really know.

The numbers behind on their gas bills in particular are high and well above the longer-term average of 15% to 16% of households who would usually be in arrears.

Looking forward, all the major suppliers recently announced a second round of price cuts, which will come into effect over the next few weeks and this should alleviate the pressure on households. While a third round of price cuts of another 10% to 20% is very likely before the end of the year.

Date Electricity Arrears Gas Arrears 
Q3 2022 259,293 137,237
Q4 2022 227,681 139,785
Q1 2023 200,819 160,399
Q2 2023  255,952 167,937
Q3 2023 275,039 159,994
Q4 2023 243,644 153,161


The latest CRU report also looks at disconnections.

Over the past few years there has been a ban on energy disconnections for non-payment of bills during the winter months. There was also a ban during the Covid lockdowns.

But disconnections are very uncommon in Ireland anyway and are only carried out as the last resort.  

Last year, 1,045 electricity customers were disconnected or around 0.045% of all households. This compares to just over 2,000 customers (around 0.090%) for all of 2022. 

Year Electricity Disconnections Gas Disconnections
2018 3.802 1,537
2019 4,113 2,263
2020 991 438
2021 648 426
2022 2,068 880
2023 1,045 1,478

Avoiding arrears and disconnections

There are a number of supports available to help you manage your energy bills and avoid going into long-term arrears and then being disconnected. You can read about these here.   

But really the most important thing is to engage with your supplier. 

Energy suppliers offer a range of supports to help customers who are having trouble paying their bills. And by law, no supplier is allowed disconnect a customer as long as they're constructively engaging with their supplier. The last thing a supplier wants to do is disconnect a household and this is only ever carried out as a last resort.

Those heavily in arrears probably won't be able to switch. But for those who can, it's highly recommend as savings of several hundred euro can be made. And of course you can switch energy provider in minutes right here on