Cold Temperatures Cause Energy Bills to Soar

According to a recent survey conducted by an independent energy switching services, the past few weeks of freezing temperatures have raised concerns with many UK residents about the higher cost of their energy bills.

Approximately 65%, or two thirds of consumers surveyed said that the recent stretch of cold weather has caused them to think more about their energy bills. 38% of these people admitted that they had concerns about being able to pay this month’s energy bill. Some of them revealed that they had had to dip into savings to cover their higher energy costs while others balanced their budgets by cutting spending in other areas such as cancelling vacations or gym memberships. More than half of the UK residents surveyed said that they were trying to cut back on heating bills by wearing more clothing. Approximately one-third of these consumers admitted that they had either switched to another energy provider in an attempt to save money, or had called to ensure that they were paying the best rate possible.

According to Which? editor Martyn Hocking, cold temperatures give people no choice but to turn up the heating, so people are inevitably going to be worried about their energy bills. Hocking says that it is worthwhile for people to log on to to check energy rates and see if they are getting the best deal, or if they can save money by switching. It is fast and easy to switch energy providers, and doing so can potentially amount to hundreds of pounds in savings.

People who find that they are already on the best possible tariff can take steps to cut energy bills even further. Changing to an online account, paying the bills by direct debit or paying on a monthly basis are other ways to save money.

With no immediate end in sight to the cold snap, Which? investigated the most popular actions that consumers took to keep warm during cold temperatures and found the top five methods:

84% Wear extra clothing
73% Drink warm beverages
40% Eat hot, filling meals
38% Block draughty spaces under doors and windows
37% Remain in bed.
* Three people even confessed to keeping warm by making love.

Which? wants fair tariffs and energy bills that are easier for consumers to understand.

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  • Mary Shepard 13 October, 8:04 am

    I am a Swedish researcher who commutes between Scotland and Stockholm. Today I am in Britain listening to BBC and a MoneyBox report regarding electric tariffs. There seems to be no clear understanding that the confusion of rates delivered by utility companies is a function of the global commodity trade of electricity that has been artificially inflated since 1996 with the “deregulation” (cynicism here) of electricity.

    Consumer advocates need to follow up again and again with the utility companies and regulatory bodies until there is full transparency regarding this two-market system AND until electricity is REMOVED form commodity trading. Much fairer would be for the now privatised electric companies be traded themselves on stock markets and for the state-owned electric companies to restrict its connection to larger grids except to the extent that they can reasonably sell excess production from their OWN country to neighboring countries. In this manner, I would suggest that nearly all countries in the EU should be able to return to prices that approximate real production prices plus 20% margins which comes to about 25% of current consumer prices per kwh.

    Free market trade in the instance of electricity has nothing to do with the buying and selling of electricity by consumers. The prices across ALL providers will not, and cannot, differ greatly–especially in aggregate over 2-3 years. Moreover, like the telecom and even oil industries, leased lines from the controlling players, Eon and Vattenfall, make it virtually impossible for the other companies to offer competitive prices–especially if they are connected to the larger grids. The idea of larger players “helping” younger players in the industry to “trade” is also impossible on any meaningful level. I cannot believe that consumer focus can accept this as a meaningfully fullfillable promise. The large players can move the pea under the proverbial walnut enough to keep things looking as though there is a competitive buyers market among electricity consumers, but the reality is that their intentions are to keep things fairly fuzzy.

    Enron (with the help of RBS and other global bank-led financiers) started this nonsense 14 years ago. Ronald Reagan, good man that he may have been, trusted Enron’s plea for open market drive–believing that they were working in the interest of consumers. We all know they were not. Nothing has changed in principle. The thousands of practioners from Enron, many of them in their 20s and fresh out of uni are now in middle and upper management in energy companies the world over–and not all of them learned any ethical lesson. (I teach MBA students and I can vouch of a growing lack of ethic in this bunch too.) Even arguments about weather influences on electricity in most European locales is a market-strategy distraction. It’s getting truly absurd. In the US, citizens and some politicians are beginning to call not only for greater price regulations, but even for re-regulation. BBC and other news agencies can play a HUGE role in investigating and reporting this two-market system that is being manipulated by investors, bankers and utility leadership. Sadly, few academic researchers and politicians seem to be aware of this situation. Moreover, the utility companies–especially the large ones–are providing funding to university research for so-called climate friendly solutions, which whilst they COULD be beneficial to the planet ultimately serve as a form of hush money and to influence commodity trading prices.

    Cheers, Mary