Households 'switch off heating during winter'
Published on 31 January 2013 01:00 PM
Many cash-strapped households went without heating this winter to keep costs down, according to research.
Seven in 10 households cut back on heating at some point this winter in a bid to cope with the 'energy affordability crisis', comparison website uSwitch found.
The research also found more than a third of people said the lack of heat was having an impact upon their quality of life or health. When a similar study was carried out last year the number of people reporting such an impact was 1 in 6.
A total of 80% of consumers surveyed felt household energy in Britain was now 'unaffordable'. The research follows a number of price increases from energy providers amid plummeting temperatures.
Approximately one in six households rarely used their heating during the cold snap, with half of consumers using it now and again and 2% regularly going without heating, the research found.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: 'When it comes to household energy Britain has run slap bang into an affordability crisis - as a result, people are going cold.
'The cost of energy is now so high that households are going without heating in the depths of winter for fear of running up a large bill.'
E.ON recently announced it was increasing its tariffs, following similar moves from SSE, British Gas, npower, Scottish Power and EDF.
MoneySupermarket.com recently stated households normally use in the region of two-fifths of their annual energy consumption in winter, equating to a quarterly bill in excess of £500.
Government's Green Deal 'not enough to tackle fuel poverty'
The findings coincide with the launch of the Government's Green Deal, which provides long-term loans to households in a bid to boost energy efficiency and reduce bills.
A number of campaigners believe the scheme does not do enough and will not prevent homes from entering fuel poverty.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) insisted the coalition is fully committed to tackling fuel poverty through a variety of initiatives, including the Green Deal.
The spokeswoman said: 'Two million households will get help under the Warm Home Discount Scheme this year.'
She also highlighted the availability of Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments for 'vulnerable households'.
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director General, said: 'We know that thousands of older people are too scared to turn their heating up for fear of racking up a bill they can't afford, despite the cold posing a serious health risk to this age group.
'We are very concerned that the government's new Green Deal initiative will do very little to lift people out of fuel poverty despite being pitched as a bigger and potentially better alternative to Warm Front. With the price of energy set to continue rising, we believe that properly insulating our homes against heat loss is the only way to help consumers to pay their bills and stay warm.
'The government must invest in a major energy efficiency programme to help protect older people against the cold weather and the high cost of energy."
Copyright Press Association 2013