Big freeze to hit bill payers in the wallet

The UK’s "Big Freeze" will hit bill payers in the wallet by adding considerably to their winter energy bills, says – especially as Brits typically use around 40 per cent of their annual energy consumption over the winter months1.

  • The "Big Freeze" could add ten per cent to the cost of your annual energy bill
  • Good news out today on pre-payment meter debt blocking
  • Contact your provider immediately if you are concerned about paying for your consumption, says

Analysis from the UK’s leading price comparison site found a customer on a standard tariff pays an average £1,232 a year by quarterly cash and cheque (QCC), and could face a whopping bill of £493 next month2. estimates that if average household energy consumption had doubled since the first snowfall in December3  bill payers could add around ten per cent, or £123, to the cost of their annual bill4 for the last three weeks alone. 
Scott Byrom, utilities manager at said: "This recent cold snap couldn't have come at a worse time for many bill payers, especially for the five million people currently living in fuel poverty. It is crucial Brits who are worried about their energy bills as a result of the “Big Freeze” speak to their provider about the assistance and social tariffs on offer. For those UK customers still paying for their gas and electricity by pre-payment meter (PPM) there is good news out today; to cut PPM debt-blocking, customers who have an energy debt of up to £200 can now swap to a better tariff, a vast improvement on the previous limit of £100, and a really positive step towards helping those who are paying over the odds for their energy just because of their payment method.

"We have all upped our energy consumption over the past few weeks to cope with the snow, especially our heating, and with the expensive Christmas period only just behind us the fact that a quarterly energy bill could be landing on the doorstep in the next few weeks for between £500 and £600 means there will be many cash strapped Brits struggling to find the money to cover it. As the freeze is set to continue with forecasts of snow in areas of the UK for this week there may be further cause for concern for anyone who has not got the means to pay such an expensive bill at the worst time of the year.
"A ten per cent increase is a conservative estimate though. I expect many households will see a larger increase to their bills so for those looking to save cash on their energy outgoings I would advise shopping around to ensure you are on the correct tariff for your usage and region. Moving online to a dual fuel direct debit deal is the easiest way to make savings, and will ensure your hard earned pennies don’t go to waste - a standard QCC customer could save an average £300 a year doing this – an easy move to make. Making your home as energy efficient as possible will also go a long way to cutting the cost of your bills this year."'s top tips to minimise your gas and electricity bills:

  • Turn your thermostat down - now. By reducing your room temperature by just 1°C you could save an astonishing 10% on your annual heating bills.
  • Switch off and save. Don't leave electrical appliances on standby as it still uses power. Make it a nightly ritual to ensure all lights and appliances are off and watch those savings mount. For example, leaving your computer on 'sleep' means it is still using 75% of its energy.
  • Almost 25% of heat is lost via poorly insulated roofs. Invest in insulation - it is cheap and effective. What is more, many free grants are available from local councils for pensioners and those on low incomes.
  • Heating the whole house is justifiable for a large family but for working couples and singles, it is more cost-effective to heat only the rooms you use most. Invest in a low energy heater.
  • In the winter months, it pays to close all your curtains as soon as dusk sets - they keep the heat in and are one of the simplest and easiest ways of cutting back on heating bills.
  • Change to energy saving light bulbs. You can save up to £40 over the lifetime of the bulb.
  • Invest in a microwave oven. They are fast and efficient particularly for small families and singles and use a fraction of the energy of a conventional gas or electric cooker.
  • Watch out for draughts around doors (keyholes, letter boxes, gaps in doors and windows). Heat escaping your home is money wasted, so get yourself kitted out. Draught excluder packs are available from most DIY stores and for as little as £60. It is estimated that good draught exclusion around an average terrace can save as much as £25 a year, so it will soon pay for itself.
  • Double-glazing is pricey to install but will make a difference to bills over time. Heat loss through windows is cut by a whopping 50% - saving around £100 a year on bills.
  • Don't fill your kettle each time you go to make a coffee or cup of tea - only use the water you need. It will be quicker to boil and use less energy. It's a simple tip but makes a difference.
  • Take showers and not baths. While a hot bubble bath may feel like a treat, the cost of heating the water soon mounts up. A shower uses around a third of the water of a bath.
  • If you use a washing machine turn the temperature down to 30°C. Today's washing powders are so efficient they do not need to be used at high temperatures. Even better, get into the habit of hand-washing and just using your machine's spin function. It saves both time and money.


Notes to Editors

1Quarterly energy consumption break down based on typical annual household consumption: 


Electricity (%)

Gas (%)

Combined (%)

13 August 2007 - 12 November 2007




13 November 2007 - 15 February 2008




16 February 2008 - 16 May 2008




17 May 2008 - 17 November 2008




2 Average standard tariff is £1,232.75. 40 per cent of £1,232.75 = £493.10

Standard, fixed and online / best energy tariffs offered by the ‘Big Six’ providers


Average Standard Tariff

Average Online/Best Tariff

Average Fixed Tariff

British Gas


WebSaver 5

Price Promise June 2010

EDF Energy


Online Saver V5

Annual Fix V1



Fix Online V5

Fix Online V5



Sign Online 17

Go Fix V1

Scottish Power


Online Energy Saver 8

PriceSure Energy

Scottish & Southern


Atlantic Online Fixed Price

Atlantic Online Fixed Price

First Utility


iSave v2


OVO Energy


New Energy

New Energy





Sourced by 15.01.2010

3 December 23rd 2009

4 The average annual bill for a standard energy user is £1232
We estimate that 40 per cent of this is used in the colder winter quarter (12 weeks)
Therefore £1232 / 40 per cent = £492.80 / 12 = £41.07 spent per week.
If this was to have doubled over the last 3 weeks it would have added £123 to the average annual bill or 10 per cent.
£41.07 x 3 = £123.20
£1232 / 123.20 = 10 per cent

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