13 Million UK Households Not Switching Heating on When Cold, Watchdog Warns

13 Million UK Households Not Switching Heating on When Cold, Watchdog Warns

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Millions of UK households are at risk of becoming ill because they are not switching on their heating when it is cold, a watchdog has warned.

A Which? survey of 4,000 people found high energy bills had led to almost nine in 10 households (85%) trying to cut back on their energy usage, while nearly half (46%) said they had not turned their heating on when it was cold last winter, The Independent reported.

Health experts warn that maintaining cold temperatures in homes in winter can place people at higher risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases like asthma attacks, infections, heart disease and strokes.

Some 37% of those surveyed said they were worried that their ability to recover from illness was worse now than before the cost-of-living crisis began.

The findings come as Ofgem is set to announce its latest price cap for bills from October on Friday, with forecasts predicting it will drop to around £1,925 for an average household.

One woman surveyed by Which? with an annual income of less than £15,000 told the consumer group, “It has had a negative impact in all aspects of my life. I really struggle, we are always cold at home (but) I’m too scared to put the heating on.”

Another woman with an annual household income of less than £10,000 said, “I have multiple disabilities, one being fibromyalgia, and I can’t afford to put any form of heating on which is causing increased pain. It’s excruciating and therefore affecting everything I do.”

The survey suggests that half of households on less than £20,000 (51%) are not turning the heating on when it is cold compared to a third (32%) of households with annual incomes of more than £80,000 (32%).

Nearly half of households with annual incomes of between £20,000 and £45,000 (46%) and just under half (45%) of households on £45,000 to £80,000 said they did not turn the heating on when it is cold.

Those aged 45 to 64-years-old are also more likely than other age groups not to turn the heating on in cold weather, and Which? suggested this was because they were likely to have more financial responsibilities than younger age groups, such as dependent children, but not the pension savings accessible by older people.

More than half of consumers (54%) reported wearing extra layers at home, four in 10 (41%) said they were using the oven less, and a third (33%) were cutting the number of baths or length of showers they took.

Which? has called for a “properly targeted” social tariff, with recent proposals by Citizens Advice urging the same based on both household income and energy usage.

The 2022 Autumn Statement committed to a new approach to consumer protection – such as a social tariff – in place by April 2024.

Which? is also calling on energy companies to do “all they can” to support their customers, including ensuring their customer services are fit for purpose, prioritizing traditional prepayment customers in smart meter rollouts and taking steps to ensure customers can clearly understand any changes to their bills.

Emily Seymour, editor of Which? Energy, said, “It’s hugely concerning that an estimated 13 million households have not switched the heating on when it’s cold due to fears of high energy bills.”

“Our research shows that certain groups – such as lower-income households and families with children – are more likely to be left in the cold this winter.”

“The Government and energy firms need to act now to help those most in need make ends meet over the winter. The Government must introduce a properly targeted social tariff as soon as possible, and energy firms must ensure that their customer services are equipped to properly support customers over the winter,” she said.

Source: Tasnim News