UK households could be facing a 37% increase in their energy bills, equating to an extra £32 ($40) per month, new research has found.
The amount of energy used to power home appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, ovens, televisions and lighting has shot up during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, according to the research by Poplus for price comparison site comparethemarket.com.
The survey of 2,000 consumers found 72% were using more energy use during the lockdown, and almost half (48%) said more members of the household were working from home.
This could push energy bills up by £387 over a year. Comparethemarket.com estimated the average annual cost of a combined gas and electricity bill could rise from around £1,034 to £1,421 if households continue to work from home.
Rising energy bills were worrying almost half (44%) of respondents, who said they were concerned that working from home could lead to bills they could not afford to pay.
People are trying to limit their energy usage to keep bills down with 36% saying that they are turning down their central heating during the day, and over a quarter (27%) limiting how much lighting they use.
People struggling with higher bills during the coronavirus lockdown are being encouraged to seek help. Around 2.4 million households in England are suffering from fuel poverty, official figures from the Department for Business and Energy show. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said a quarter of all households north of the border were already in fuel poverty before the crisis hit.
Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com, said that people are saving money during the lockdown by not eating out and travelling, but highlighted that more time spent indoors will lead to greater energy usage.
“Many are understandably worried about how they will manage this increased cost, particularly if they are a high energy consumption household,” he said.
Comparethemarket.com recommends customers contact their energy provider or consider looking for a better deal from another supplier.
An estimated 15 million UK households are paying an average of £362 per year more than the cheapest fixed tariffs available on the market due to being on their suppliers’ least-competitive standard variable tariff, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Ofgem’s latest price cap on standard variable tariffs, which is designed to guarantee a fair price for energy bill-payers, was lowered on 1 April, and will remain in place for six months.
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