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Posted by John King
With many Britons now having received bills for the heating they used over winter, there are likely to have been some unpleasant surprises in households up and down the country.
According to a new survey by Consumer Focus, four in ten people have reported energy bills even higher than last year, even though the winter just gone brought with it less ice and snow has been the case in previous years.
Almost a third of the respondents said their bill was higher than they expected, whether their house is warmed by gas, heating oil or other fuels.
The worst affected were people who pay by cash, cheque, or prepayment meter, with half of the people in these demographics reporting a more expensive bill than last year.
Many households are taking measures to reduce the sting of bills, with almost 50 per cent of those polled saying they are cutting the amount of energy they use and one in seven even indicating they will cut back on food spending to afford heating.
However, this could be difficult for people who have already made as many cutbacks as they can - and the prospect of a freezing cold May (as recently predicted by WeatherAction) is likely to be preying on the mind of anyone in this situation.
This coincides with a study by Lloyds TSB, which found this week that spending on essentials is rising at its fastest rate since its records began.
Britons now have £113 less a year to spend on non-essentials as a result, with more and more cash going on things like electricity bills and heating oil.
Mike O'Connor from Consumer Focus said: "Higher winter bills may come as a nasty shock that many customers simply can't afford."
"High energy bills are stretching some household budgets to breaking point," agreed Citizens Advice Bureau's Gillian Guy.
If you use heating oil, you should ensure you are on the cheapest tariff available in order to save as much money as you can on keeping your home warm.
BoilerJuice can help with this by impartially obtaining prices from all our participating suppliers and then displaying the cheapest heating oil or gas oil price entered.
Selecting your supplier this way could save you a significant sum each year - and our ordering service is fast and secure as well as easy.
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