73% of households have gone without heating this winter in order to cut costs, according to research released today by uSwitch.com.
The research finds that, although almost 8 out of 10 (79%) households have cut down or rationed their energy use this winter because of increased costs, 85% are still concerned about their winter fuel bill.
The most worrying of the findings from the research is that over a third (36%) of people say that cutting back on heating has affected their health or quality of life. A concerning 45% of households say they have gone cold at home this winter because of the high cost of energy.
The recent price hikes from energy companies appear to be making an impact, with only 20% saying that they can comfortably afford their energy bills. The research also found that, despite the government’s recent review of levies on bills, households are still on average £53 per year worse off since the recent price increases. This year is the latest in a trend of increasing prices - the average household energy bill has risen by £792 (168%) in a decade, and 83% of people expect costs to rise again this year.
The findings come during Citizen’s Advice’s Big Energy Savings Week, designed to help people cut their fuel bills. Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, commented on the findings:
“It simply beggars belief that in 2014 people in Britain are going cold because they can’t afford to have their heating on. Keeping warm is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, and severely rationing energy use can have serious consequences for health and well-being.
“The tragic fact is that consumers just aren’t coping with the high cost of energy today. The situation is getting worse year on year and far more needs to be done by the Government and suppliers to make affordability a priority and to support consumers in taking the right steps to cut their bills.
“Rather than compromising on their health, I would urge consumers to follow the two golden rules to lowering household energy bills. The first is to ensure their home is as energy efficient as possible so that they aren’t wasting energy, and the second is to pay as little as possible for what they do use by switching to the cheapest tariff for their needs.”