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One in three families struggle to pay their energy bills

A staggering four million homes are already feeling financial pressure ahead of the cold winter


It’s commonly thought that it’s the elderly who struggle to pay winter energy bills, but new research states four million family homes in the country will be financially stretched this winter and take extreme measures to reduce energy spend.

Half of working families cutting usage

One in three working families (32%) are struggling to pay their energy bills, according to new data from uSwitch. A staggering four million homes are already feeling financial pressure ahead of a season which could see major energy suppliers raising their prices for the first time in almost three years.

The research reveals that half of working families (49%) are planning to cut their energy use this winter, just so that they can afford to pay their bills and, alarmingly, a third  (29%) don’t put their heating on even when their house is too cold.

Children’s wellbeing affected

It’s not just the immediate feeling of being cold that is unhealthy for families.

Sixty-six percent are worried about the negative effect that rationing energy may have on their family’s health. Over half of these families are also concerned that cutting their energy use will negatively affect their child’s performance at school and nearly two thirds say their children don’t focus as well on their homework when their house is cold.

The long-term health implications for children living in cold homes are well documented, more than doubling their chances of suffering respiratory problems like asthma, affecting their emotional well-being and putting them at risk of developing multiple mental health problems in the long-term.

Will CMA remedies help?

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch believes the implementation of CMA remedies could help:

“It’s appalling that even families in work are struggling to pay their energy bills – and we haven’t even seen any major price hikes for nearly three years. The biggest worry is that, with signs that prices are on the up, many more families could feel forced to keep the heating down in what’s set to be a very cold winter.

“The CMA spent two years closely examining the energy market and so it’s vital that the Government gives the final package, only published in June, the proper chance to work.

“The CMA remedies should help more customers move away from expensive standard variable tariffs, lower bills and improve competition in the market. Suppliers must play their part by doing all they can to help their customers move to their best deal.”

For the full stats and figures behind this story, visit the uSwitch media centre

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  • Douglas Gill

    I’m not surprised Scottish power refused us the WHD.because landlords name is on leccy. Bill! We get GPC.and its ghc in our flat and we have a Lecce meter! But landlords name on main bill cancells this help?

  • vic

    For economy seven users, the economy seven should be increased to economy 9 that is 9 hours on economy tariff. That is one way to ease the electricity bills for retired and other low income families.

  • D Johnson

    Remember if you on low income or receive benefits there is government scheme through your energy supplier that will give you 140 pound back on your electricity each year as long as you register with your supplier ask about warm home discount scheme most energy suppliers off this one off yearly payment.

    • Rik

      That’s great, but what about those of us that don’t qualify for low income but still have to pay through the nose for stupidly priced energy bills?

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  • John Forsyth

    Once upon a time the government gave people over 60 help. Not any more. I’m 62, I have wife with chronic heart failure and a son with chronic arthritis we get no help in trying to heat our home. Instead we have to wear extra layers and blankets to stop us from freezing.