Energy rationing a reality for 23 million households

13 November 2017

Households are being urged to check their energy deals amid the revelation that 23 million UK households will ration their usage this winter.

Research from price comparison site GoCompare found that 23 million households (85%) are planning on rationing their usage of gas and electricity this winter to save money.

Nearly half of households (42%) plan on turning the thermostat down to cut costs, two in five (40%) will delay turning the heating on for as long as possible, and one in three (31%) say they will turn off heating in specific rooms to save money.

Other initiatives to save money include leaving the heating off for extended periods (29%), taking a shower instead of a bath (29%), and reducing usage of energy hungry devices such as tumble driers or dishwashers (20%).

Georgie Frost, head of consumer affairs at GoCompare, comments: “Households understandably need to use more energy in the colder and darker days of autumn and winter. This means that the next five to six months will be the most expensive time of year for gas and electricity bills. So, it’s unsurprising that many people, especially those who’re already financially stretched, will be looking at ways to manage their energy use to try and keep a handle on costs.  

“In the last year, we’ve seen price hikes from all the major energy suppliers, which is only going to compound the problem for many households.  Unless they act now, millions of people will be paying more for their energy than they need to. That’s why, as winter approaches, we’re reminding people that one of the most effective measures they can take to reduce their bills is to switch.”

Broken market

The energy market has come under fire recently, culminating in the announcement of a price cap by the government a month ago.

Competition in the market place may also take a hit, with the announcement last week that two of the Big Six providers are planning to merge.

However, essential to the issue is that not enough consumers switch to cheaper deals. GoCompare has found that only one in five (21%) households have switched provider in the last year to acquire a better deal, while more than one in 10 (12%) admit they have never switched provider.

Yet, on average, those who switched via GoCompare saved at least £138. Use Moneywise’s energy comparison tool to see if you can switch and save. 


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I do everything I can to keep my energy bills down. I ration the heating, don't leave lights on, use the microwave rather than the cooker as much as possible, use hot water bottles rather than electric blanket, have showers rather than baths, etc etc. Most importantly, I make sure I'm on the best possible dual fuel deal. Yes, it's a pain to spend the time and effort making sure you're on the best possible deal, but it's definitely worth it. I don't really have a choice as I'm on a low income (no benefits whatsoever) and also got hit by the change in pension age, so needs must.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I agree people should be made to take responcibility and put in the effort to switch to best deal, the goverment should not get involved in price capping. Reducing big 6 to 5 won't make any difference as they are all pretty much the same, First Utility was cheap but shot up in price when got established, Co-operative the same and many of the new smaller suppliers up their prices when established. I switch every year as I can't afford not to, I am 70 living off just my state pension and have several chronic illnesses, I am in bed a lot and 11 years ago fitted inverter air con in my bedroom as it can raise temperature when cold in night by 5 degrees C in 15 mins for 3p, cheaper and quicker than central heating so I only use central heating once a day or twice if very cold. I really believe scrapping of standing charges are the way the energy market should go to ease the burden on the old, sick and low income users, then no reason for children not to have warm food as people should understand charges better. I understand in detail how energy is charged and used but there are many who don't so it needs making simple to work out. What if petrol stations made us pay £5 to enter forecourt to buy fuel to cover transport, metering and cashier costs as that is what the utility suppliers are doing with standing charges.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Not surprising at all. I work fulltime, get paid £10 and hour, my wife is unemployed but not allowed to claim benefit because I'm working. When winter comes, the heating is off all day, only comes on for an hour, possibly two in the evening.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The energy market is not "broken".The fact the Big 6 may turn into the Big 5 will not hinder competition.What does matter is the lack of switching energy providers (or switching from an SVRT). Going from 6 to 5 does not reduce the competition since there are dozens of smaller providers who are waiting for people to stop being lazy and switch to one of them. There are 15 million households on expensive SVRTs. The only ones that need protecting in any form are the elderly and the vulnerable. Everybody else needs to get off their backside, go to a price comparison website and switch..

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Capping prices will make it worse for many users, the best way is to do away with standing charges for Gas, Electricity and water, each unit would cost a tiny bit more but it should be worked out so it is break even for average 3 bed semi. The old, sick and poor with low incomes would save a little but the well off heavy users would pay a little more that's why they won't do it. Old, sick & poor say they can't afford to cook food due to energy costs, that's because they have to pay daily standing charge before they can spend 2p to cook an egg, kids given cold foods from food banks as they can't afford the energy as they can't understand the charges, charge all utilities like buying petrol or diesel then people will try to use less that will cut emissions and save things like water on a meter which all properties should have. Electric cars are being allowed to charge at home on domestic electricity at 5% VAT which is wrong as should be 20% VAT like other motorists, they produce emissions at the power stations.

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