Cold weather and higher tariffs saw Brits shell out 15% more on their energy bills last winter than they had the year before.
The average gas and electricity bill soared to £969 between October and March, compared to £844 the previous winter.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reported: “The cold winter of 2012/13 caused a large increase in household energy bills compared with the previous winter, which had been comparatively mild.”
Last winter was an average of 2.5 degrees C colder than the previous year, causing homes and offices to turn up the themostat. The number of days which saw consumers switch on the heating was also higher this winter, at 61.7 days.
Overall domestic use of gas saw a 21.5% year-on-year rise to 156.6TWh, and electricity demand also saw a slight rise of 2.3% at 34.2TWh. Around 80% of domestic heating fuel in Britain is gas.
Price rise impact
However, it was not just the cold winter that saw a rise in bills. Indeed, each of the big six raised their energy tariffs during the season, meaning that consumers were forced to dig deeper in order to heat their homes.
Fuel poverty concerns were rife, and the government and consumer watchdogs encouraged householders to switch energy companies in order to ensure they were on the best tariff for them.
However, despite the government’s best efforts, in the first quarter of the year, the switching rate dropped to its lowest since records began in 2003.
It was estimated that 24,000 more people than usual died in England and Wales during the winter – a rise that many linked to soaring energy bills.
In a bid to drive down fuel poverty in the coming winter, trade association Energy UK is ploughing funds into promoting the Home Heat Helpline, which offers advice and reassurance on paying fuel bills.