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Big freeze fortnight costs households £1.6bn

In total, 81% of respondents claimed they had their heating on more than usual as a result of the cold snap.

MoneySupermarket estimates that if average household energy consumption doubled since the first Met Office warning about severe cold weather in late January, bill payers could see around 6% or £77 added to the cost of their annual bill just for the last fortnight alone.

Collectively, households across Britain who used their heating more than usual during this period, will need to fork out approximately £1.62billion as a result.

Furthermore, with homeowners using around 40% of their annual energy consumption during the winter months, and with a customer on a standard tariff paying on average £1251 a year by quarterly cash and cheque (QCC), those who used their heating more, may find their winter bill could now stand at around £578.

Scott Byrom, energy manager at MoneySupermarket said: "Many of us have upped the use of our heating over the past few weeks to cope with the bitterly cold temperatures and snow. In addition, with the expensive Christmas period only just behind us, a quarterly energy bill could be landing on the doorstep in the next few weeks which could be anywhere between £500 and £600 leaving many cash-strapped energy customers struggling to find the money to cover it.

"For those looking to reduce the amount they pay for their energy, I would advise shopping around to ensure you are on the correct tariff for your usage and region. Moving online to a dual fuel tariff and paying monthly by direct debit is the easiest way to make savings, and will ensure your hard earned cash doesn’t go to waste – a standard QCC customer switching through MoneySupermarket could save an average £170 a year.

"Those on the cheapest online tariff during the recent cold spell will have paid around £442.42 for the energy used over this period, £136 less than those who’ve never changed their energy deal.

"Bill payers really need to take action and move to a better value tariff to ensure that they don’t continue to pay more than is necessary for the energy they use. Making your home as energy-efficient as possible will also go a long way to cutting the cost of your bills during the rest of the year. For those who are really concerned about being able to pay their next quarterly bill as a result of the ‘Big Freeze’, it’s crucial they speak to their provider about the assistance and social tariffs on offer."

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