As five of the Big Six suppliers announce that they will be raising their prices this winter, exclusive uSwitch research has found that the cost of energy is now the number one concern for 90% households, ahead of the rising cost of food (80%), petrol prices (75%) and mortgage and rent payments (40%)
The news that energy prices will rise again this winter has come as a blow to many households already struggling to keep financially afloat.
We know this because we have a customer care team who receive calls from customers either needing advice on how to manage their energy bills or help finding a cheaper energy deal. So we decided to conduct some research to find out what the main concerns are.
We found that:
• Calls to uSwitch’s customer call centre have increased again by 8% year-on-year and by 40% from 2009.
• Three quarters of customers (75%) who call for help rather than go online are over 60 years old.
• Price rises are the nation’s number one concern, prompting at least seven in ten calls (70%).
• Price hikes have made almost eight in ten (79%) more worried about their winter fuel bills this year.
• A staggering 87% – or 22 million households – will be rationing their energy use this winter to save on bills.
All of our customers share similar concerns and, unsurprisingly, price rises come top of the list – over the last year, they have prompted at least 70% of our calls.
Most concerningly, however, is that 87% – or 22 million households – will be rationing their energy use this winter to save on bills. This is particularly a risk for vulnerable customers who don’t keep appropriately warm during the winter months.
In fact, price hikes have made almost eight in ten people (79%) more worried than normal about their winter fuel bills many call us because they don’t understand the information, despite Ofgem’s pledge to make the energy industry more transparent for customers.
To help this group, last year uSwitch launched a unique service called ‘Send us your bill’. Customers could post their energy bills for free to ‘Freepost uSwitch’. The customer services team then runs a full comparison calls the customer back to discuss their options – making energy switching available to millions of customers who can’t
Going without heat
Commenting on the findings, our expert on the energy market, Ann Robinson, said:
“Last winter three quarters of households (75%) – potentially 19.5 million – went without heating at some point to keep their energy costs down. Worryingly, 15% said that it had affected their quality of life or health. This is why it’s so important that consumers know
where they can go for help and what they can do to better manage their household energy bills.
“The fact is that there is currently £300 difference between the cheapest and most expensive tariff on the market, which is like cutting a quarter off your annual bill. This is a substantial saving and could make all the difference to keeping warm this winter. I would urge anyone who has never switched before to now think about trying it – don’t worry if you can’t go online or if you can’t understand your bills. The help is there, all you have to do is reach out”
If you need help with your energy bills, whether it’s switching to a cheaper plan or just helpful advice, call us for free on 0808 178 3492.