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Do energy bills send shivers down your spine?

Man in dark

We’ve heard from thousands of people who are dreading a cold winter. The financial burden of heating their homes sends a shiver down their spine. Here are just some of their comments.

More than 335,000 people have signed our Fair Energy Prices campaign, with many of you sharing your experiences and concerns as we prepare for the winter months.

Protecting the vulnerable

Antoinette told us how she’s too scared to put the heating on:

‘I’m finding it difficult to pay my bills. I’m 62, disabled, and I’m too scared to put my heating on when it’s cold for fear of what my gas and electricity bills will be. I’ve started to go to bed early and get up late to keep warm. This is no way for someone of my age to have to live for four months of the year.’

Antoinette’s story and thousands like her are why we’re calling on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to use its competition inquiry to make the energy market fairer for consumers.

Eating or heating

Nicola recently told us on Facebook that her heating bill is a cause for concern this winter:

‘I too fear the heating bills, my home has no central heating so I have to have electric heaters or coal fire. I’m a single parent and have my 82-year-old mother with me, she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer on Wednesday of this week, she has to keep warm and the heating is on constantly, of course I must keep it on for her sake. I do work full time, but the heating bill is terrifying me.’

While Joanne is juggling childcare and trying to keep up with her energy bills:

‘I have a young daughter and want to keep the home warm and be able to cook proper meals for her without worrying about the size of the fuel bill.’

Struggling to pay energy bills

Terence told us how heating his home is a financial struggle:

‘This winter we could only afford to heat a single room. It almost broke me.’

And Patricia is doing all she can to keep her energy bills down:

‘I am a disabled pensioner. My money does not stretch as far as having the heating on as much as I should at my age, and I am now behind on payments. It takes all summer to get the bill part way down, then it starts all over again. I try to go as long as I can without putting it on and I go to bed early with two hot water bottles. I thought this was 2015 – it doesn’t feel like it to me.’

Stories like these put the issue of energy prices in a very stark light. The CMA not only needs to cut the number of people on expensive tariffs and make switching easier, it needs to penalise those suppliers who don’t protect the most vulnerable.

The CMA will be judged on the legacy of its inquiry – if it doesn’t deliver a fairer energy market for people like Antoinette, Nicola, Joanne, Terence and Patricia, it will have failed.


[UPDATE 14 January 2016] – It’s been reported today that wholesale gas and electricity prices have fallen by nearly a third in a year, hitting a five-year low. And yet energy companies have failed to lower bills. Only British Gas has cut prices in the last six months, and by just 5%. The rest of the Big Six didn’t follow suit.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘It’s extremely disappointing millions of us are still paying way over the odds for our energy. Consumers will rightly ask why their bills haven’t been cut dramatically when wholesale costs have dropped.’

And there are faces behind the numbers, with many of you telling us how you struggle to pay your energy bills, like Jill:

‘My income is fixed but prices aren’t. Do I eat and freeze or stay warm and starve?’

We’re calling on the Government and the CMA to protect vulnerable customers from being ripped off and to deliver fair energy prices. Do you think energy bills should be cut in line with falling wholesale costs? Tell us what you think so we can share your views with the CMA.

Comments
Member

And more

” Almost 11 500 participants in our first group purchase of solar panels!
15 October 2015
Bijna 11 500 deelnemers aan onze eerste groepsaankoop van zonnepanelen!

A nice result! Almost 11 500 participants will enjoy the benefits of our first group purchase for solar panels: a saving of about 1 500 € on an average installation of 4 kilowatt-peak, a strict follow-up and a series.

The European project CLEAR where we have ondergezet our shoulders, aims to raise awareness among consumers about renewable energy systems and to simplify their investment in these systems. Mission accomplished for this first group purchase solar panels!

On the basis of the price proposals, will create a potential savings of € 1 500 11 338 persons for an average installation of 4 kilowatt-peak. This shortens the payback of the investment and offers at favorable conditions, such as orientation and inclination of the panels, and over a period of 20 years a financial return that can reach 3% in Flanders and 7% in Brussels.
Nothing but advantages!
The group purchase offers not only a low price, but also a set.

The panels, the inverter and the parts of the installation are guaranteed for 10 years.
At least one person of the team who comes on site, must have a RESCERT-certificate that the required competencies.
We have checked the financial situation of the participating installers.
Throughout the process we’ll random control audits to ensure the quality of the plants.
The installer and the consumer signs a model agreement offered by us is provided. Advances shall be paid only as the delivery and the installation take place.
If a problem pops up, we are in for the follow-up and we try to find the best solution (both for subscribers and non-subscribers), possibly assisted by the Conciliation Commission Building.

The sequel

The participants in the group will purchase from 15 October a first cutlery.
There will be information sessions are organized in cooperation with a number of municipalities and in the presence of the gelote installers.
Each installer will go on site and, if necessary, adjust the scope. Only after the visit, the decision as to whether or not to accept the specifications and to sign a contract with the installer.
The plants are to be finished before 30/6/2016.”

Member

A llittle more information It is run by ICRT an organisation of which Which? is a member :

Renewable Energy – CLEAR
CLEAR stands for Consumer Learn Engage Adopt Renewable energy home solutions. It is an international project coordinated by our member organisation Test-Achats with the participation of several consumer organisations including ICRT (for the international coordination of test activities), Consumentenbond (The Netherlands), Altroconsumo (Italy), DECO (Portugal) and OCU (Spain), GfK and Apere.

The project aims to address the major barriers to the uptake of renewable energy home solutions by European consumers in 5 different countries through the following activities:

1. Creation of renewable energy web communities hosted on consumer organisations’ websites;
2. Provision of independent and expert test information to help consumer learn about and trust the different available technologies;
3. Increasing consumers’ ability to make informed decisions with personalised decision-making tools;
4. Helping consumers to invest in renewable energy technologies through national group purchase schemes or other innovative ways to bring down the purchase price.

The project has just started and will last three years, during which our members will help consumers to have a better understanding of the following technologies: Heat Pump for Domestic Hot Water (DHWHP); Pellet Stoves; Solar Thermal; PV Systems and Inverted Heat Pumps.

For more information on CLEAR and on Renewable Energy technologies, check our members’ websites.

international-testing.org/support_energy.html

Member

Energy companies should operate a accessibility scheme like sky To help disabled customers with learning disabilities & autism if u are like me I find energy companies very difficult to understand

MORE SHOULD BE DONE TO MAKE BILLS IN EASY WRITTEN FORMAT & A way disabled people can understand about energy companies
.Energy companies should lower energy bills for disabled people vulnerable adults and low wage families as you have to choose to eat or heathe your homes ..Their seems to be no protection For disabled people who are the ones hit the hardest with expensive energy bills ..Adults with learning disabilities are having to Go without heating .More needs to be done to lower bills for the elderly disabled people & low wage families with children ..I have seen no Lowering of prices in my bill Scottish power gets more expensive by the year ..More should be done as it’s unfair we have the highest energy bills out of every other countries ..Britain is hit the hardest. .

Member

I too am a housebound, disabled pensioner and severe mobility problems mean that I cannot move around to boost circulation, thus heating and being able to have hot drinks, let alone food, is essential. I am afraid to put the heating on and (sorry) stay in the same clothing, wrapped up in fleece blankets for weeks at a time when it is cold and/or damp. I am having to eat as little as possible and as I type, my hands are white and my feet numb with the cold.

Member

Korl-That society has come to this is beyond shameful its a national disgrace where greed and averace prevail instead of help for the poor /sick/old which is taken away from them to pay the biggest two banksters in the world the IMF and WB . The excuse ?? -we must pay our debts and who pays ??? thats right the poor by dying from Fuel Poverty NOT the billionaires in this country who have their money hidden in off-shore bank accounts and accountants +lawyers fighting for them in the City to keep, it that way . You would never think Britain was one of the RICHEST countries in the world and multi-billionaires keep it that way for THEMSELVES .