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70% of households turn off heating to cope with high bills

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Almost three quarters of households have gone without heating at some point this winter to cope with the increasing costs of energy, a study reveals.

Some 73% of households have turned the heating off to keep costs under control, up from 69% last year, the research from uSwitch.com founds.

Worryingly, just under one in four turn the heating off regularly.

The report also found that almost eight in ten have cut down or rationed their energy use this winter due to the increased cost.

More than a third said that going without heating had affected their quality of life or health.

Despite rationing their energy use, 85% still worry about their bills and consider the cost before switching the heating on.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: “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.”

uSwitch.com said consumers can cut their bills by ensuring their home is as energy efficient as possible and switching to the cheapest tariff for their needs.

Despite the reduction in energy bills following the Government’s decision to roll back green levies last year, households are still £53 a year on average worse off following recent price hikes.

According to the comparison site, the average household energy bill will have rocketed by £792 or 168% in a decade, from £472 a year in 2004 to £1,264 a year by this March.