The U.K. could spend an extra £52 million a week on household energy bills as an estimated 16.8 million people stay at home due to coronavirus, according to new research from Uswitch, the comparison and switching service, on Tuesday.
"Workers who would likely be out between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, for example, will use more energy by boiling the kettle, using the heating, having lights on, using their computer and television, and charging devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets," Uswitch said.
Cordelia Samson, energy expert at Uswitch, was quoted as saying that the amount of extra energy households use will vary from home to home, but assuming a household with medium annual usage is at home for an extra 50 hours per week, they have estimated that people will probably use around 25% more electricity and 17% more gas based on current conditions.
Uswitch said this increase adds up to a potential yearly increase of up to £195 per household or £16 per month for customers. However, it stressed the energy industry is working with the government to help households affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Measures announced for struggling energy customers include reassessing, reducing or pausing debt repayments and bill payments, and not disconnecting any household, according to the service.
It noted that suppliers will make some decisions on a case-by-case basis, and so suggested that anyone who is struggling with their bill or repayment plan should contact their provider to explain their situation and agree on what form of help their energy company can give.
The service suggested ways to reduce energy use while working from home such as using a microwave, being water-conscious, leaving enough defrosting time and using the right size pan.
It also provided energy-saving laundry tips including washing clothes at 30-40°C and hanging the laundry to dry rather than using a dryer. To save electricity around the home, it advised that customers do not leave anything plugged in that is not being used.
Furthermore, Uswitch advised that by turning the thermostat down by just 1°C, a saving of as much as £75 per year could be made.
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By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu