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.
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.
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.
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."
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