Britain’s third-largest energy supplier has sparked outrage after recommending that households save on their heating bills this winter by “hanging out”, eating “solid bowls of porridge” and sticking to “non-alcoholic drinks”.
MPs called the advice a division of Ovo Energy issued to its customers on Monday “offensive” and “offensive”.
The email sent by the company included 10 “simple and cost-effective ways to stay warm this winter”, such as “having a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to stay cozy” and to ginger eat, but to avoid chilli “because it makes you sweat.”.
Britons face the biggest pressure on their income since the financial crisis of 2008-09. Energy bills for millions of households are expected to rise by more than 50 per cent, or £ 700, to £ 2,000 a year per household in April, when Britain’s energy price limit is adjusted.
Darren Jones, chairman of the business committee, called on Ovo to apologize to its customers for the “insensitive” remarks.
“Being told to put on a sweater instead of turning on your heating when you can not afford it, in a time of such a difficult time for so many families, is clearly offensive,” the Labor MP said.
Theresa Villiers, a former Tory cabinet minister, said the advice was probably well-intentioned but was nonetheless “fairly insensitive”. “A lot of people are very anxious about rising energy bills and will not kindly accept that they are being told to do some star jumps,” she added.
The imminent rise in energy bills follows record increases in wholesale gas and electricity prices since last summer. The limit, which sets accounts for more than 15 million households, was lifted by 12 percent in October by energy regulator Ofgem.
Charities have warned that the energy price surge could millions more households plunge in “fuel poverty”, which contributes to the looming cost of living crisis.
Also included in the email is a recommendation to “move” by “challenging the kids for a hula hoop competition”, cleaning the house or “doing a few star jumps”.
Ginger is recommended as it “keeps you warm by encouraging blood flow”, as well as complex carbohydrates, including porridge, which “will help increase your body temperature as it takes longer to digest”.
Customers are also advised to drink more water as body temperature may drop due to dehydration, but they are warned that the “hot feeling of wine or whiskey is temporary as you will soon lose heat from your core and eventually feel even colder”. It added: “Stick to non-alcoholic drinks.”
One government figure said the advice to eat porridge and avoid alcohol was “like some Dickensian nightmare”.
Clive Lewis, Labor MP for Norwich South, said the leadership was “clownish” and “depressing”.
“It is laughable and insulting, but then with this government’s lack of an energy strategy you almost expect it,” he said. The comment “will be read by people who have to choose between eating and heating. . . if this is the state of the country we are in now, I find it rather depressing ”.
Ovo said: “We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year. We are working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis, and we acknowledge that the content of this blog has been poorly judged and unhelpful. We are ashamed and sincerely apologize. “
Twice a week newsletter
Energy is the world’s indispensable business and Energy Source is its newsletter. Every Tuesday and Thursday, directly to your inbox, Energy Source brings you essential news, forward-thinking analysis and insider intelligence. Sign in here.