Figures from the energy regulator show 15 thousand domestic customers are struggling to keep the heating on because of price hikes.
Almost 1 in 3 businesses are also in arrears.
Price cuts are due to come into effect which should help ease the pressure in the coming weeks.
However Sinn Fein Senator Lynn Boylan says the regulator should be given real teeth to help lower prices.
‘Sinn Fein has legislation on that which would allow the energy regulator to look at the hedging practices of business companies of electricity and gas companies and also whether or not to investigate if there’s anti competitive activity going on because currently the regulator cannot do that.’