Energy: ‘Exceptional action’ needed says Justin Urquhart Stewart
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Ovo Energy posted a blog that contained “energy saving tips”, which was sent to its SSE customers. Ovo Energy acquired SSE in 2020, but the brands still operate separately.
In a now-deleted SSE webpage, the blog offered tips on “keeping warm in winter without turning up the heating”.
SSE’s blog on “10 simple and cost-effective ways” to stay warm and keep bills down included wearing extra layers and stopping drafts.
However, the blog also suggested people could find “extra heat” by leaving your oven open after you’ve finished cooking and by having “a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy”.
SSE also suggested eating “hearty bowls of porridge” and “doing a few star jumps”.
Darren Jones, Chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and Labour MP for Bristol North West, skewered SSE for the “insensitive” advice.
He told the Financial Times: “Being told to put on a jumper instead of turning on your heating if you can’t afford it, at a time of such difficulty for so many families, is plainly offensive.”
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, added the recommendations were “clown-like” and “depressing”.
He said: “It is laughable and insulting, but then with this Government’s lack of an energy strategy, you almost expect it.”
Mr Lewis added the email “will be read by people who have to choose between eating and heating […] if that’s the state of the country we are now in, I find it quite depressing”.
In a statement, Ovo Energy apologised for the SSE blog, which has since been removed so it could be updated with “more meaningful information for customers”.
Speaking to the BBC, Ovo Energy said it recognised the content of the blog was “poorly judged and unhelpful”.
They added: “We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise.
“We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year.”
It comes as energy costs have skyrocketed due to cold weather, nuclear plant outages in France and reduced gas flow from Russia.
Experts predicted rising wholesale costs of energy will result in a 50 percent rise in bills from April, when the latest change to the energy price cap takes effect.
Should the cap be raised, an average household on a supplier’s default tariff would face paying nearly £2,000 a year for gas and electricity, compared to under £1,300 at the moment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday is “looking at” what the Government can do to reduce the cost of household energy bills.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder of OVO Energy, said in December the Government is showing “nowhere near enough urgency” in finding a solution to steep increases in gas and electricity prices.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “We’ve seen this energy crisis unfold now for the last three months and we’ve watched as energy prices have spiked, fallen back, and spiked again.
“We’ve had more than 30 bankruptcies in the sector, we’ve had millions of customers forced to change supplier.
“The cost to the consumer has already been more than £4bn. We haven’t seen any action from the government or from the regulator.
“There’s an acceptance that there’s a problem, but nowhere near enough urgency to find a solution.”
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