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Eight in ten households to ration their energy use this winter

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29/10/2013
Eight out of ten households will be rationing their energy use this winter in an attempt to keep a lid on bills, says a new report.

Comparison site uSwitch.com found looming price hikes have added to consumer woes, making almost eight in ten (78%) more worried about their winter fuel bills this year.

Energy affordability is the top household worry for consumers (90%), ahead of the rising cost of food (75%), petrol prices (66%) and council tax (49%).

The report calculated that the average household bill following recent pricing announcements will soon hit £1,434 a year.

This is just short of the £1,500 a year ‘tipping point’ at which 59% of households will be going without adequate heating and 36% will be forced to turn their heating off entirely.

Ann Robinson from uSwitch.com said: “When it comes to affordable energy the country is at crisis point. Consumers are being forced to turn down and switch off in an attempt to shield themselves from the impact of higher fuel bills.

“This winter we will be seeing even more going without adequate heating for fear of racking up a bill they cannot afford – this is the grim reality for many households in Britain today. The Government has got to get competition working as this is the only way we will get to see fairer pricing, better service and people getting better deals.”

Over the past few weeks four of the ‘Big 6’ energy supplier have hiked up their duel fuel prices: SSE (by 8.2%), British Gas (by 9.2%), Scottish Power (by 8.6%) and npower (by 10.4%).

Robinson added: “With four major suppliers having already announced price hikes, consumers face a perfect storm. Political hot air and rhetoric won’t heat homes – families have to take action and give themselves a price freeze instead.

“Rather than resorting to drastic and potentially harmful measures, I would urge them to ‘future-proof’ their energy bills this winter by signing up to one of the many competitive fixed price energy tariffs that are on the market. These don’t just offer a competitive price today, but can protect from price hikes for anything up to four winters too.

“Energy efficiency is also a key weapon – making sure that your home is insulated, draught-proof and using as little energy as possible will automatically help reduce your bills. Those who need help understanding what energy efficiency measures to introduce, or with financing it, should look at the Government’s Green Deal. These steps could make the difference in keeping warm this winter.”

With affordability such a big concern, consumers are already taking drastic steps. Last winter, seven in ten households (69%) went without heating at some point to keep their energy costs down.

Worryingly, over a third (35%) said that it had affected their quality of life or health.

Now, with energy bills on the rise again, many more may be forced to go without adequate heat in order to afford their bills.

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