Heating over eating: Brits make sacrifices to pay winter bills

With the UK preparing for one of the coldest winters on record, Brits will probably be putting the heating on for longer. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

Over three quarters (76%) of Brits will cut back on their regular outgoings to pay for their heating this winter, research suggests.

A survey of 2,000 Brits by MoneySuperMarket found three quarters will need to make sacrifices to keep their homes warm, as one of the coldest winters on record is expected to hit Britain. This is an increase of 29% from last year.

Over a quarter (26%) of Brits are preparing to spend less on their regular food shopping, the survey found.

READ MORE: Household energy bills increase by £1.2bn in six months

A third (34%) will be eating out less and having fewer takeaways, while a fifth (22%) will be going on fewer nights out with friends – both numbers representing a 76% increase on 2018’s figures.

The number of those who will be taking a packed lunch to work has also doubled – up from 12% in 2018 to 24% in 2019.

Other sacrifices being made include reducing energy consumption in the home, via basic measures such as turning the lights off in empty rooms and turning appliances off at the wall (33%).

READ MORE: Enough wasted gas burned to heat every home in UK

The data reveals that over-55s are the least likely to make sacrifices this winter, with a third saying they don’t expect to make any cutbacks. Conversely, 83% of young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 are preparing to make sacrifices.

Norwich residents (84%) are the most likely to make sacrifices in order to afford their winter household bills, followed by London (81%) and Belfast (81%) – all higher than the national average of 76%.

Top five cities where residents are most likely to make sacrifices to pay for energy bills

  1. Norwich (84%)

  2. London (81%)

  3. Belfast (81%)

  4. Sheffield (81%)

  5. Edinburgh (79%)

Over a third (38%) of Brits fear being unable to pay their energy bills – up 80% since last year.

A further 15% anticipate there will be days their family will go cold, with a further 14% believing the cooler weather will impact their family’s health.

When asked what measures they’ll take to delay putting the heating on, 69% said they plan to wear more layers around the house, 49% will use blankets on the sofa and 26% will take a hot water bottle to bed.

READ MORE: UK winter energy bills to fall as regulator lowers price cap

Another 14% said they plan to move around the house more to get their heart rate up in order to stay warm.

If forecasters’ predictions are right, Britain has a very cold winter ahead of it, which probably means putting the heating on for longer – but this doesn’t necessarily need to lead to higher energy bills.

“If you’ve been with the same energy provider for a long time, chances are you’re languishing on an expensive standard variable tariff. By switching to a competitive fixed rate deal, you could save £238 on your bills,” said Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket.

READ MORE: Hard Brexit will make heating your home even more expensive

He added: “It’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme. If you are, you could be entitled to receive up to £140 off your electricity bill this winter.

“You can also take some basic steps at home to bring down the cost of your bills, such as not leaving your lights turned on in empty rooms, washing your clothes at lower temperatures and making sure appliances, such as TVs, aren’t left on standby. Turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save you up to £75 a year.”