With energy bills high on the agenda, a staggering 13,700 MoneySupermarket.com site users responded to an online poll about their heating habits. It found over a third (36%) of energy customers have turned on their heating in the last week. A further 11% have done so in the last two weeks and 9% have been heating their homes since last month. Almost one in five consumers (17%) are planning to switch on their heating soon.
Scott Byrom, energy manager at MoneySupermarket.com, said: "Energy bills are certainly a ‘hot topic’ at the moment with the Government urging consumers to take control and switch to cheaper deals. With households across the UK switching on their heating, and the threat of more colder weather predicted for later this week, bill payers will no doubt be concerned about how they are going to be able afford their energy bills.
"Our survey found that worryingly 6% of respondents can’t afford to turn on their heating – the latest round of price increases added an average 17.4% to the cost of gas and 10.8% to the cost of electricity, resulting in average annual standard bills of £1287. Moving from a standard tariff to the best fixed deal would save 15% on the cost of bills, which goes someway to limit the impact of the price hikes.
"With the cost of living soaring, particularly driven by higher energy bills, now is not the time to be apathetic, especially as we head into winter where bill payers typically use around 40% of their annual energy consumption during these months. Consumers can, however, take action to reduce their energy bills by making sure they are on the best energy deal for their usage and region. Finding the right tariff means bill payers could save on average £237 per year.
"For example, the cheapest online tariff available is npower’s Sign Online 24 with annual bills of £1050 on average, but, for the same price, consumers can protect themselves against future price rises with either EDF Energy’s Fix for 2012 tariff with bills fixed at £1050 until December 31 2012, or OVO Energy’s New Energy Fixed product which is a set price for 12 months from the point the deal is taken out, however, the OVO tariff is not available in all regions of the UK. My advice is to go for the fixed tariff option as the peace of mind will be a big bonus for those who are worried that energy bills are only heading in one direction, and that’s up."
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