With the sun shining this week, the chill of winter is a distant memory for most of us.
But every year, we face increased household costs in the form of our energy bills.
For many, this increase is simply too much to bear, and for these households — some 14 million in the UK — the choice was made to go cold because they couldn’t afford to be warm.
More than 6 million of these households did this regularly.
While we’ve all heard the advice that you can (and in some cases should) simply put on a jumper to avoid cranking up the heat, an alarming 37% of those polled said they thought going without heat had had a detrimental impact on their health.
The rising cost of staying warm
Each of the big six announced a price cut in January. Though the cuts were met with criticism as they ranged from 1.3% to 5.1%.
And, in once case, despite being announced in January the cut hasn’t even taken effect for consumers. Many spoke out against the the big six’s paltry cuts, but the latest poll from uSwitch asked consumers what they thought.
Unsurprisingly, 49% thought these cuts would have no impact on their bills and 83% are still worried about their energy bill costs.
The rising cost of being cold
A study released earlier this year by Friends of the Earth found that Britain sees 40% more respiratory-related hospital visits than colder climates such as Sweden.
It was estimated that the NHS spends £875 million alone in bedding these patients. The full cost on the system, including GP visits and social care is unknown.
An ‘unacceptable gamble’
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says:
“It’s simply unacceptable that people should feel forced to gamble with their health to try and cope with sky-high energy bills. It’s all very well for some suppliers to cut prices when spring kicks in, but millions of consumers were left out in the cold this winter.
“It’s now high time for proper, double-digit reductions to be passed onto hard-pressed customers – many of whom have gone cold because they can’t afford to keep the heating on. In the meantime, consumers should take control by making sure their home is as energy efficient as possible and checking that they’re on the most competitive tariff.
“Our latest figures reveal that over 4.8 million fuel vulnerable households spend a staggering 10% or more of their income on energy. The Government must urgently extend the Warm Home Discount scheme to help more consumers struggling with energy costs.”