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6.6 million UK homes could be cold this winter as energy costs bite into household budgets

14 October 2013

UK consumers estimate they will spend an average of £613 on energy over the next six months - but Gocompare.com estimate average bills could be £867.21*

October marks the traditional central heating switch-on for UK households, and new research carried out by Gocompare.com has revealed that one in four (25%) people - that's 6.6 million homes across the country** - expect to be cold this winter because of the cost of energy. Nearly a third (31%) are worried that they won't be able to afford to heat their homes as much as they'd like to.

Over two fifths (44%) of UK households will be steeling themselves for winter by wearing jumpers, cardigans and coats indoors just to stay warm, and nearly a third (32%) are planning to have their heating on for the bare minimum so that they ‘won't freeze'.

Only around one in ten (12%) households aren't at all worried about their energy bills and 7% said they would heat their home as much as they like, even if it meant getting into arrears with their energy bills.

Many thousands of consumers also fear for the wellbeing of the vulnerable with one in ten (11%) being worried that an older relative may not stay warm this winter because of the cost of energy, and a similar number (12%) were worried about an older friend or neighbour. And 7% of parents get upset because they worry that they can't afford to keep their children warm in winter.

Just 12% of people have been squirreling away extra money in readiness for the bigger winter bills and, on average, they expect to spend around £613.00 on electricity and gas in the six months from the beginning of October 2013 to the end of March 2014. However, experts at Gocompare.com have calculated that the average UK household winter bill will actually run up to  around £867.21 for that period, meaning that potentially millions of customers will need to find more money than they'd expected in order to stay on top of their energy bills.

Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesperson at Gocompare.com, commented: "The last thing you want to think about during a hot summer is how you're going to manage your winter energy bill. But now that the warm summer evenings have given way to colder autumn nights, millions of people are starting to worry about how they're going to afford to heat their homes this winter.

"For many this will mean turning thermostats down, having the heating on less often, wrapping up in woollies and coats indoors and delaying the central heating switch-on for as long as possible. However, consumers should act now to ensure that they're on the best value energy tariff for their circumstances and where they live, so that they don't pay over the odds however much energy they use. There's no such thing as a ‘best buy' for your gas and electricity, so you have to check which provider is going to offer the best deal for you.

"Finding a better energy tariff online takes minutes and the savings can be substantial, and even over £400***, so is definitely time well spent."

-ends-

Notes to editors:

On the 18th and 19th September 2013, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 1,784 randomly selected British adults and Springboard UK panelists who pay or contribute towards a household energy bill. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

*Based on estimated dual fuel energy usage for a medium user (3,300 kWh electricity and 16,500 kWh has per year), between 1 October and 31 March, for all tariffs provided by the ‘big six' energy suppliers, paid for by monthly direct debit. Figure is averaged across all 14 distribution areas.

**There were 26.4m households in the UK in 2012 - Source - ONS Families and Households bulletin, November 2012. 25% of 26.4m = 6.6m.

***Based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx powered Gocompare.com platforms during the 1st April - 30th June 2013. At least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Gocompare.com saved £404.66