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Wellbeing

Millions worried about the cost of heating this winter

Posted 22 October 2016

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Millions of people worried about the cost of heating their home this winter.

As the temperature outside gets lower and lower, you might start thinking about turning the heating on to stay comfortable in your homes. But it seems that for a large percentage of people, it’s not as simple as that, as they wonder how they’re going to afford the heating bills. 


What does the research say?

According to recent research conducted for Debt Advisory Centre, 35 million people are worried about the cost of heating their home this winter, with 1 in 10 very worried about it. There are 1 in 5 people who will go without heating this winter and this number rises to over 1 in 4 for young people. 

60% of people will cut-back on their regular bills, in order to afford their heating and over a quarter of people will spend less on food in order to afford this important bill. 

It’s also worrying that 1 in 5 people are planning to juggle their bills, meaning they intend to just pay part of another bill or miss it altogether in order to afford their heating. Some people already know that they won’t be able to afford the heating without borrowing – 1 in 10 will take out credit specifically for the heating bills. 


Prioritise your bills

Your heating is classed as a priority payment, which means that the consequences of missing this bill is worse than the consequences of missing others, like payments towards your credit card or store card. 

If you’re having trouble maintaining all your bills, it’s important that you choose to put your heating and other priority bills, like your council tax bill and child maintenance payments first. And of course, it’s important to protect your health and well-being by staying warm enough throughout the winter. 


Help for unmanageable debts and bills

If you know you won’t be able to afford your other unsecured debts as well as your heating, it’s best to let your lender know you’re having financial difficulties, rather than simply missing the payments without any explanation. 

They may be able to put a temporary arrangement in place, such as allowing you to take a payment holiday or freezing interest and charges on your debts, so they don’t build up too much. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of approaching your creditors directly and explaining that you can’t afford your payments as normal, a debt advisor can look into the situation for you and may be able to take over contact with your creditors as part of a debt solution. 

Debt solutions are plans that aim to free people from unmanageable debt and put them back on financially secure footing. There are a range of debt solutions available, and which one is right for you simply depends on your particular situation. 


Cutting back in other areas

If you are able to cut back on other areas, like your food shopping, and still have plenty to eat and stay healthy, then this might be a viable option. But it’s very important that you don’t take this method to the extreme and jeopardise your health and well-being in anyway. 

If you’re looking for nifty tricks to cut down on your food shopping then have a look at our blog by following the link above. It’ll show you how to keep buying the food you need and enjoy at lower prices. 


See if you are eligible for help

There is also something called the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This is a one-off discount on your energy bill from October to April. Check out the page link to see whether you’re eligible for this help. 

Everyone deserves to be able to stay warm enough throughout the winter and you shouldn’t be going without essential heat because of debts. If you’re in this situation, make sure you speak to your lenders and seek professional debt advice as well if necessary. You can speak to one of the trained debt advisors here at Debt Advisory Centre, using any of the options at the bottom of the page. 

*3Gem Research carried out online interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people between 14th September and 20th September 2016. 

**Figures extrapolated based on ONS UK adult population estimates for 2014 of 64.6m. The average annual domestic gas bill is derived from the Annual Domestic Energy Bills document available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/annual-domestic-energy-price-statistics

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.