Britain’s households could see an extra £294 ($383) on their energy bills this winter as working from home continues and the legacy of lockdown is reflected in their annual consumption.
Data from comparethemarket.com shows that households without a smart meter or homes that don’t have a manual meter reading taken could be in for a nasty surprise.
To date, these households may have already built up an unexpected debt balance of £145, and as the winter months approach and consumption is set to increase they could end up with an extra £294 to pay if their usage remains unchecked.
“Many people pay their energy bills by direct debit, set up when they first opened their account,” said Head of energy at comparethemarket.com, Peter Earl.
“However, if their meter reading is out of date they could be in for a substantial shock when this is finally updated to reflect their actual usage.”
Among those expected to be the most affected are households who have taken a payment holiday for their bills to be able to make ends meet due to job loss, income reduction or other changes in their financial circumstances.
These households could face an extra debt of £316 bringing their debt to a possible total of £610 this winter.
With the furlough scheme to end next month and a recession on the horizon, this is a serious concern for households struggling with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic who could be pushed into poverty by the end of the year.
Previous data from comparethemarket.com found that 72% of UK households had seen their energy consumption increase in the first half of 2020 due to increased usage of appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, laptops, ovens and gaming.
This could mean the average household could be facing a 37% rise in their energy bills.
In June data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the coronavirus pandemic had disproportionately effected the earnings of the poorest households the most as an average fall of £160 per month in household earnings was recorded.
The data also suggested that the poorest households were struggling the most to pay council tax and utility bills, having to sometimes rely on benefits or payment holidays to survive.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies’ key findings said: “Increases in accumulated debts of these magnitudes are not sustainable, so this underlines the importance of a quick recovery in household incomes.”