More than five million households (20%) are in debt to their energy suppliers, up by over a million on last years’ figures according to a report by uSwitch.
While the average amount owed per household has fallen by £8 to £123, the average annual energy bill in the UK has soared to £1353, up by £100 compared to one year ago and up by £831 compared to the average annual bill from a decade ago.
Overall consumers now owe their energy suppliers an estimated £637 million.
Ann Robinson, from uSwitch said:
"The soaring number of households in debt to energy suppliers is a clear indication of the pressure people are coming under just to meet the cost of their basic bills.
"The important thing for households is to try to keep a lid on energy costs. There are two simple ways to do this - use less energy by making our homes more energy efficient, perhaps by taking advantage of the Green Deal, and paying less for the energy we do use by switching to the most competitive tariff for our needs.”
Both recent price rises and the second coldest March on record could be applying additional pressure to consumers when it comes to their heating bills.
Of those in debt to their energy suppliers 41% say that they owe more than they did a year ago, while only 9% say that they owe less than they did a year ago. 22% of those who owe plan to ignore their debt in the hope that it will dwindle over time, while the same number of those surveyed intend to pay their debts with a lump sum payment.
Of those questioned 45% intend to put up their monthly direct debit in order to pay their debts.
"The important thing is that anyone who is concerned about managing their energy bills or their ability to pay should contact their supplier sooner rather than later to discuss their options."
It’s not only energy bills that appear to be rising, a report from Halifax released last week suggested that the overall cost of owning and running a home, including the cost of energy bills hit £9,590 last year, up from £9,411 in 2011.