New research by uSwitch has revealed a crisis of affordability in Britain’s energy costs. 69% of householders have been forced to go without heating at some point this winter in order to keep their energy costs down, and two in ten having to do so regularly. Over a third have found their quality of life or health decrease as a result of cutting back on their energy use – a 15% increase compared to last year.
What the research found:
- Seven in ten households have gone without heating at some point this winter to keep their energy bills in check – almost two in ten (17%) are doing this regularly
- Three quarters of households (74%) have cut down or rationed their energy use this winter because of the increased cost – almost nine in ten (88%) now consider the cost before switching their heating on
- 87% are concerned about their forthcoming winter energy bill and 69% say that it will be less affordable than last year’s
- 88% of people expect the cost of household energy to increase again this year
- Over eight in ten consumers (81%) say that household energy is unaffordable in the UK today
The big energy suppliers raised their prices in 2012 adding hundreds to household energy bills. Previous uSwitch research found that energy prices have risen five times faster than average income:
Energy rationing is likely to disproportionately hit vulnerable homes as temperatures reach sub-zero temperatures, with 44% saying they have gone cold at home this winter due to the high cost of energy.
The research raises concerns that the UK is reaching an affordability ceiling in energy costs.
In 2004, the average household energy bill cost an average of £522. This year that average annual cost has rocketed to £1,352 – a 159% increase leaving nine in ten concerned about recent costs.
Energy suppliers have already warned that rising wholesale gas costs, green energy taxes and infrastructure maintenance are likely to keep pushing up the cost of energy, despite over eight in ten consumers saying that household energy is already unaffordable.
Although 88% of consumers say they expect further price rises research has identified an ‘energy affordability ceiling’ of £1,500 a year beyond which the majority of consumers will start to suffer. A
t this point almost six in ten households would be going without adequate heating and almost four in ten would be forced to turn their heating off entirely.