Over half of the population of the UK, 35 million people, are worried about how they will pay for their heating this winter, according to new research commissioned by Debt Advisory Centre.

As the temperatures drop, many households are keen to switch their heating on, but with the average annual gas bill reaching £714 some are taking drastic measures to ensure they can afford to heat their home this winter.

  • More than a quarter (27%) will cut back on their food shop in order to heat their home sufficiently
  • Worryingly 23% will juggle their bills – by part paying or not paying a regular bill at all
  • Another 10% will take out credit just to pay for heating

Missing or juggling payments on essential bills – from council tax, rent or loan and credit card repayments – or borrowing more money to pay for the heating bill just highlights the struggle some families face to keep warm over the winter months.

Some are making even harder choices with almost 1 in 5 people (18%) saying that they will be forced to go without heating at times because they can’t afford it. This rises to over a quarter of young people (28%) who say they will be unable to afford to heat their home.

Perhaps understandably, more than half of Brits are worried about the cost of heating their home, 1 in 10 of those are very worried. Young people worry the most, with almost two thirds concerned about not being able to afford their heating bills.

Debt expert Melanie Taylor at Debt Advisory Centre, said: “Like the rent or council tax, the gas and electricity bill should be treated as priority costs and paid first.  If this means that there isn’t enough money left to cover unsecured debt repayments – such as credit cards and loans – then the best advice is to let your lenders know that you are in financial difficulties.  If you don’t feel able to do this directly, then a debt adviser can do it for you. Nobody should be going without heating because they are in debt.”