Choosing to shiver on the sofa? You'll soon be claiming on your heating cover€¦
No one wants to be left in a cold house during the bleak mid-winter. However, if you thought this type of situation only came about after a boiler breakdown or heating system howler, think again - new research has revealed that millions of Britons are choosing to live in freezing conditions to save on their heating bills. According to the uSwitch study, up to 14 million households have turned off their heating with money in mind this winter - a one million rise compared to the previous year.
It seems it's not a decision many have taken lightly either - 14 per cent voiced fears over their health due to living in a cold house. Meanwhile 23 per cent are still living in fear of the day their next heating bill hits the doormat, even though they've reduced their usage. Many families who refuse to go cold have adopted a thrifty attitude to their energy use. According to the study, a staggering 76 per cent have either cut down or rationed the times they've put their heating on.
Commenting on the figures, director of consumer policy at uSwitch Ann Robinson squarely blamed huge energy price hikes for Britons' desperation to save money. "The fact is that this winter's price hikes have resulted in an 8% increase in the number of people regularly going without heating, even though December was the coldest in 100 years. This is the unacceptable price that British consumers are being forced to pay because of the high cost of energy today," she said.
Ms Robinson added that the effect this attitude to heating could be having on the nation's health "should not be underestimated". However, she also highlighted how households need to get used to new ways of managing their energy usage and expenditure. "There are two key steps to this - use less energy by making your home more energy efficient and pay less for the energy you do use. The good news is that over a quarter of us (27 per cent) are now more likely to adopt energy efficiency measures because of the cold weather we have seen this winter," she commented.
Of course, a frugal attitude to your heating can do far more than damage your own health. Experts recommend that your heating is left on throughout the coldest periods of the year to ensure that you do not encounter frozen pipes. Once pipes have frozen over, the next stage is for them to burst - which can cause massive water damage to your home. This applies even if you're away from the property - although this can be at one of your thermostat's lower settings. Adopting this attitude could also mean you're more likely to claim on your boiler cover - a type of insurance that protects you against breakdowns and the problems that can follow. Ultimately, keeping your home warm is one of the most important things you can do to protect your family's health - and the health of your home and its pipework.