As concerns grow that the energy crisis could drive millions into fuel poverty, one provider has found themselves in hot water for their range of energy saving tips.
SSE, a division of Ovo Energy, released a blog article on Monday which contained 10 “simple and cost-effective ways to stay warm this winter”. On top of more conventional tips, the piece suggested customers “cuddle with pets”, “do a few star jumps” and “challenge the kids to a hula hoop contest” to keep warm through the winter. The resulting backlash caused the article to be quickly removed and prompted a swift apology from the energy supplier.
Leading the outrage was Labour MP, Darren Jones who described the suggestions as “insensitive” in an interview with the Financial Times.
"Being told to put on a jumper instead of turning on your heating if you can't afford it, at a time of such difficulty for so many families, is plainly offensive," he said.
Conservative MP Theresa Villiers also found fault with the advice. She admitted that the blog post had probably been well meaning but similarly described it as “pretty insensitive”.
“Many people are very anxious about rising energy bills and won’t take kindly to being told to do some star jumps,” she said.
Speaking on the debacle, Ovo said: “We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year. We are working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis, and we recognise that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful. We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise.”
The UK is currently in the midst of an energy crisis which threatens to add hundreds of pounds onto household gas and electricity bills. Wholesale costs have risen by 250% in the last year, driven by increased demand in Asia and a particularly cold winter in 2021. The issue is particularly acute in the UK, due to poor output from domestic wind farms and low storage capacity for gas.
Dramatic increases in costs faced by households have come despite worse being kept at bay by Ofgem’s price cap. However, the cap is set to be reviewed in April with analysts suggesting it could rise by as much as 55%. Should this happen, the typical household energy bill will rise from £1,277 to around £2,000.
Campaigners are growing increasingly concerned that this increase in bills will contribute to a ‘cost living crisis in 2022’. National Energy Action, the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity has warned that as many as six million households could struggle to pay bills following the proposed price hike in April.
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