Household energy costs are set to increase, as research from comparethemarket.com reveals that the majority of homes across the UK are using appliances significantly more than usual whilst under lockdown.
As a result of this usage surge in appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, ovens and hobs, lighting, gaming, TVs and laptops, the research reveals that households could be facing a 37% rise in their energy bills, equating to £32.31 per month on average, or £387 over the year.
The average annual cost of a combined gas and electricity bill is around £1,034, but due to increased usage this could rise to £1,421.
With 72% of homes stating that they have increased their energy usage – the equivalent of 20 million households – this could add an extra £640 million per month nationwide to bills.
For those working from home, there is growing financial anxiety, as almost half (44%) worry that working from home will lead to unaffordable energy bills. Some are already taking steps to cut costs, as more than a third (36%) say they are turning down their central heating during the day and more than a quarter (27%) are limiting their use of lighting.
With the UK still under government direction to stay at home, energy consumption is higher. Almost half (48%) say that there are now more people at home during the day than normal.
Smart meters are proving to be a useful tool for households that have one, as over a third (36%) of those working from home own a device which can help monitor energy consumption. Of those that own a smart meter six in 10 (61%) are using their monitoring device to keep track of spending. Over two thirds (66%) of those who are using their smart meters to track spending have reduced energy consumption as a result.
According to Ofgem, as many as 15 million households are stuck on their suppliers’ uncompetitive variable tariff. One way that households could significantly reduce their costs is by switching to a more competitive, fixed tariff deal. The current gap between the average variable tariff and the cheapest tariffs available on the market is £362.80.
Peter Earl, Head of Energy at comparethemarket.com, said “While we might save money on eating out and travel during the lockdown period, people can expect their energy usage, and spend, to creep up as a result of spending more time indoors. Many are understandably worried about how they will manage this increased cost, particularly if they are a high energy consumption household and are conscious of how much more energy they are now using while in lockdown.”