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Shop around for good deals before winter, says Energy Advice Line
The Energy Advice Line has urged householders to start shopping around for energy deals following a new survey that shows more people are worried about paying for heating over winter than they are about their Christmas expenditure.
The survey by the Co-operative Energy found that for 48% of households, energy costs were the main priority during the winter months. In contrast, 16% identified Christmas as the most important area of spending, while 16% believed it was their family's weekly shop.
Julian Morgan, managing director of the price comparison, switching and advice service for energy users, said that despite the supposed economic upturn, many families continued to struggle.
"These findings are a bit of a reality check for politicians, energy companies and the energy regulator because they show how tough things still are for households on a budget," Mr Morgan said.
"The overall economic situation might be improving, but many families still aren't feeling it and are tightening their purse strings as winter approaches, just so they can pay their energy bills.
"Many people fear the cold weather because they worry about being able to stay warm, and it's a sad reflection on the state of the UK's energy market that energy bills will be such a concern for so many people this Christmas."
The survey also found that 46% of the 2018 people questioned said they were more concerned about being able to afford their energy bills this year than in 2013.
Fear of being unable to pay had forced 51% of those surveyed to make spending sacrifices. While some cut the family holiday (37%) and others cut back on clothes and electrical goods (68%), just under half planed ahead from the summer to avoid big winter energy bills.
Mr Morgan said it was crucial for everyone to plan ahead when it came to energy, particularly those on a tight budget and/or whose fixed-price deals were coming to an end.
"With colder weather just beginning in many parts of the country, now is the time to act," Mr Morgan said.
"Some people might be coming to the end of a good fixed deal and others might have forgotten to switch over to a cheaper deal when their previous deal ended. Some people might not have changed their supplier for years.
"Regardless of your situation, winter is coming and energy bills are not going down, so now is the time to shop around and save money by finding a cheaper energy deal.
"Services like ours make it quick and simple to scan the market and identify the cheapest prices. And once you agree on a deal, we do the rest and organize the switch.
"Consumers need to bear in mind that it can take between four and six weeks to switch, so starting to shop around well in advance makes sound financial sense."
The Energy Advice Line is the UK's leading impartial comparison, switching and advice service for businesses and householders. It actively campaigns for reform of the UK's energy market to boost competition, get consumers a better deal from suppliers and lower energy prices.
The Energy Advice Line's price comparison and switching service is free and completely impartial. Consumers can obtain energy quotes with a few computer strokes based on a diverse panel of energy suppliers including the major players and smaller independent utility companies.