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Vox pops: Will energy prices force you to cutback this Xmas?

This week we were out on the streets asking people whether energy prices were having an affect on their Christmas. And we want to hear from you too – what are you cutting back on this Christmas?

Energy bills have increased by nearly 20% in the last six months alone. And we know that this is having a negative impact on many people this Christmas, so our aim is to collect your thoughts and feelings and present them to the decision makers.

As part of our campaign for affordable energy, we want the government, energy companies and Ofgem to understand the impact that price rises are having on everyday people.

So are energy prices forcing people to cutback this Christmas, and if so what’s getting the cut?

Susan has cut back on Christmas luxuries

‘Apart from having to turn down the heating, we’ve had to give up lots of things we would normally buy at Christmas time and luxuries for the children. Obviously the children don’t understand when you have to say ‘no’ to them, but you have to do it because it’s either food or heating.

‘I’m very worried about energy prices as they don’t seem to be going down – they keep going up up up all the time and I don’t think it’s fair on families. I think it’s so out of order – there’s got to be another way.’

Meriel has given up charity giving

‘I’ve given up charity actually. I used to give to occasional people – one used to send on a little to them if one could afford it. But now you just think no, no more, I’ve got a family to keep.

‘It’s very sad, I’m not broke so I’m able to cope, but there are lots of people who are, and losing their jobs day by day. I just think it’s frightful.’

Alex is worried about heating bills

‘We’re turning things on thermostat. We’ve been very blessed by the fact that it’s been a pretty warm year so far.

‘When it does get colder, we’re going to have to ratchet up the heating which is going to affect us beyond that to the New Year.’

Emma has sacrificed heating

‘I’m not paying my energy bills at the moment but, when I was, it was one of my biggest outgoings, and every time an energy bill came through I went “there’s got to be something wrong with this” and it was higher and higher and higher, hundreds and hundreds of pounds. At one point we weren’t having the heating on at all, it was freezing – and yet our bill is the biggest of all of my bills.’

Victoria has substituted heating for clothes

‘We’re not really putting the heating up because the price is so high, so we’re wearing more and warmer clothes inside. We’re not really having decorations or having a very lavish Christmas this year what with all the energy prices going up – there’s not really much money to go on extra things.

‘I think that the lack of regulation on prices means that normal people can’t actually live in England properly and survive to a standard that we can expect to live in.’

What about you? Are you cutting back this Christmas, and have energy price rises had a hand in this? Tell us what you think below, and for your chance to a £250 John Lewis festive hamper, paste your comment into the box on this page.


I probably sound really stingy, but I don’t usually put the heating on until very late in the year – usually my ‘start date’ is December the 1st, but this year I pushed that back a week and I’ve also stopped putting the heating timer to come on in the mornings. It means I have to get dressed in the freezing cold, but on balance I’m hoping it will save me getting a terrifying bill come January. My flat is quite old, with high ceilings, so costs a fair bit to heat.

Clive says:
15 December 2011

Have installed a ‘Baxi Ecogen’ boiler – it generates our own electricity and uses the ‘waste’ heat from the generator to heat to heat our house. I’m also selling up a heap of stuff on ebay and spending it on shares in community owned wind turbines – see http://www.energy4all.coop. The era of cheap energy is over! The government needs to stop wasting money on stuff we don’t need, and spent it on turning the UK in to an energy self sufficient economey, or we suffer 1930’s hardships.

My biggest gripe when trying to conserve and save on the cost of energy that I consume, as a pensioner is the more I cut back, the energy suppliers increase tariffs because they wish to preserve their profit margins to provide a consistant payment to their shareholders. If we all (hypothetically) were to cut back say ten percent on our energy consumption the suppliers would have to increase tariffs to maintain the status quo to satisfy shareholders while still keeping pace with inflation at the cost of the consumeras in my opinion they are too big to fail. Or is it just me.

Brian Cox says:
15 December 2011

We’re just heating the bathroom now, when we need it, and using the gas fire in the lounge, as low as we can. Boiler is in the kitchen, so warm enough in there anyway. We used to heat the bedroom, but not any more. Using heavier duvet, but find it uncomfortable. Wearing more clothes in the house than we used to as well.
In an effort to minimise energy bills we’ve been on several comparison sites, putting in the same figures on each, and EVERY ONE gives a different result! What’s the point? Which one do we believe? The government really need to tackle this, and now – not wait until they need our vote!

I put the heating on for the first time on Dec 4th. Until then I didn’t even have hot water on tap I just heated a small amount in my kettle when I needed it, because I found that my gas boiler uses quite a lot of electricity when its just left on. I have insulated the house as far as possible but it is a big house with high ceilings so I only put the radiators on in the hall and my study 6.15am – 11.00 a.m and my bedroom from 6.15 a.m. to when I get up.
In the evening I usually put on my gas fire on low in the living room at about 6.0 p.m.
I wear thermals and wool jumpers and most of the time I seem to keep warm. If I have to do a lot of sitting still I find one of those gel warmers which heat up for 3 minutes in the microwave and keep their heat a long time are excellent under my feet.
I’m 78 and spent all my younger days in cold houses, We found heating costs too much to cope with in those days as well, so we learnt to dress sensibly to keep warm.
My gripe, and it is a big one. I’m having to pay a very large amount for the first units I use,
which means I am subsidising people who use a lot of household fuel. I think that the cost for each unit should be the same through out

Yes times are hard, due largely to irresponsible government policy of overspending and also to high cost of energy and inflation. All of us (except perhaps bankers who were allowed by regulators to behave irresponsibly) have to cut back and adjust our budgets to the new economic environment. We also should become more wary in the future of overspending and of allowing the political authorities to mismanage the economy. Unfortunately the mismanagement is not just a national sin but happens internationally esp. in the US and countries such as Greece. Cycles of economic irresponsibility tend in time, after some suffering and some remedies, to be followed by economic improvement and happier times. Cheer up.

Gordon says:
22 December 2011

We are a family of five, My wife and three kids and myself. I have not been putting the heating on until the temperature drops to 5 or below. We also do not have any hot water, to keep costs down. We use the electric shower to wash everyone, so yes no baths.I know thats sound mean but we just cant afford the rising costs. The children are always complaining, we sit in our living room with blankets on to keep warm. It cannot be right that we should have to do this comming into the year 2012. The people most effected by fuel cost are those on low incomes like ourselves. If we had the money we would invest in greener more cost effective ways of heating the house and water. I am very worried about the fuel costs for this winter and i’m not looking forward to the cold weather. Another big worry for our family is the rising cost of deisel for the car, i would not be able to work without a car. The rise in deisel has meant we have had to cancel or non essential items like days out, holidays, TV (sky) etc. We are trying to make christmas as special as we can for the kids. My wife and I have managed to gets presents, mostly from charity shops and friends and a couple from online auction sites. I am not sure how much more squeezing we can take!!!

Yes I’ve had to make several cut backs. I’m wearing extra clothing, Room stat is down to 15deg, Try to manage with heating on only twice per day for 2 hours each time, Nothing on stand-by now, Use kettle as little as possible and only boil enough for 1 Mug, etc etc
The Energy suppliers always drastically increase their charges (? 20%) at the start of the heavy winter period and come the spring they will make big noises about a reduction in charges (maybe 7% !!) which we have paid for through the winter months. Ironically the less I use the more I pay because of the 2 tier system of charging. Why does it have to be so complicated ? Why can’t we have a unit and we are simply charged for the units we use !!!

We are wearing extra jumpers and lined trousers most of the time now.
The central heating is on restricted timing and we keeping pressing the “one hour” button when the cold becomes tangible.
The radiator thermostats have been switched down in the rooms we don’t use, and the radiators in the hall are shut down altogether.
This way I am hoping to make a 600 gallon oil tank last 12 months.
I realise we are much better off than a lot of folk.

Things are a lot easier now that I am picking up a small professional pension.
Before that I had 18 months living off savings after I was made redundant. Habits I learnt then still stick with me. A fleece jumper and insulated jacket, lined trousers, thick socks, Thinsulate hat. Don’t turn on many storage heaters nowadays, but use a 400W/800W quartz radiant fire, aimed at my legs. I have installed curtains over the outside door and both sides of the living-room door, and a blind half-way down the window cavity in living room and bedroom. I am still adding to insulation in the loft. All this has cut my heating bills a lot, and has been a good investment, even over 2 years.
In 3.5 years I get my state pension, and should then be reasonably well off. I might even be able to replace my 12 year-old van, which has lasted incredibly long. Its a Vauxhall Combo (Corsa).
Of course lots of people are worse off than me. Many young people cannot afford to leave home, and still live there into their thirties. And all the new graduates who are in debt and cannot get jobs are in a frightening depressing state. Very little action from the government in this area.
Of course my savings earn very little in a low-interest economy, and are diminishing with inflation.
We can expect falling house prices and rising interest rates in the years to come, but it seems impossible to predict who will be the winners and who the losers.
We need the government to acknowledge the new poverty in Britain, and to come up with innovative policies to enable us to get through these times. I have some ideas. They don’t seem to have any.

Geraldine says:
19 March 2012

We live rurally and rely on oil for heating and hot water. We have been fortunate enough to be able to insulate the outside of our home and in the loft. We have installed new energy efficient glazing. We have paid for all this work and the prices of oil and electricity still keep rising. What a bizarre situation to be in. We’ve helped the building trade economy, we’re keeping the energy and oil companies shareholders financially happy and we are no better off. We see no end to this mad situation! We too are wearing extra fleeces, woollen socks and count how many times we open the back door in wintertime to empty rubbish etc. thus not to cool down our home! We use blankets while sitting on the sofa and try to use just the one room in the evenings. Yes we do use less fuel now after the home improvements, but the fuel costs are still the same with rising prices. The government must step in to regulate these prices, people in poverty in 2012 would have sounded ridiculous in a school lesson in the 80s? Perhaps Mr Cameron should live with the poor for a week and see how people are struggling. Maybe it may help if Panorama did a programme on us and others – its such a common story now – we wouldn’t see it as a shock, but perhaps the government members watching it might!