Britons rage at Ovo Energy ‘cuddle pet’ to keep warm advice – ‘Condescending claptrap’

Martin Lewis says UK ‘walking into a catastrophe’ on energy

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The company said it was embarrassed after a link to a blog containing energy-saving tips was sent to customers of SSE Energy Services, which it owns. It added that it had removed the piece so it could update it with more meaningful information.

SSE Energy Services had offered 10 cost-effective ways to stay warm and keep bills down which included wearing extra layers and to keep moving by “cleaning the house, challenging the kids to a hula-hoop contest, or doing a few star jumps”.

Besides stopping draughts, it said people could find “extra heat” by leaving the oven door open after cooking and by having a cuddle with pets and loved ones to “help stay cosy”.

The tips came amid rising energy bills and the cost of living crisis which has gripped the country. The advice sparked fury among Express.co.uk readers.

June Ward fumed: “WOW! Where do this lot keep their brains? I can imagine the injuries when elderly pensioners, on walking frames and sticks, attempt star jumps? These companies gave been raking in the profits from us for decades.”

On the rising cost of living, they added: “Why is our Government allowing its citizens to be continually fleeced like this?”

Fellow reader Ascender commented: “I hope the idiot behind this is given the push. Some pensioners can barely walk, never mind jump up and down.”

Reader R3515T… mocked: “Don’t forget to shut yourself in one room, get a hot water bottle and stuff your clothes with newspapers or you could just disembowel a cow and climb inside.”

BillJackson sighed: “They will be suggesting we move into caves next.”

And hollieollo said: “This ‘advice’ ranks alongside the sort of ‘Let them eat cake’ type of condescending claptrap from energy companies.”

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An OVO Energy spokesperson said: “Recently a link to a blog containing energy-saving tips was sent to customers. 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 recognise that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful. We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise.”

A spokesman for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said that it beggared belief that an energy firm with thousands of customers in abject fuel poverty would treat the issue as a marketing gimmick.

He added: “While there may have been good intentions behind the email and the swift apology is welcome, we’d urge Ovo Energy bosses to sit down and talk to customers who are affected by the fuel poverty crisis gripping the country.

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“The only way to end fuel poverty is for immediate government financial support for those most in need alongside a long-term sustainable programme of investment in improving the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing and enabling a shift away from our reliance on gas heating.”

Age UK says surging energy prices and cold weather mean too many older people living on low incomes cannot afford to keep warm in their own homes.

A million older households were identified by the charity in December as living in fuel poverty with rising energy bills meaning they would be joined by tens of thousands more.

Research from Age UK shows almost half of people aged over-60 are worried about heating their home this winter, which is equivalent to about 7.4 million people.

The survey found a third of those in the same age group are worried about paying their energy bills this winter with a similar proportion (32 percent) concerned about having to reduce their energy use due to money worries.

Age UK has called for urgent government action to help older people stay warm this winter.

National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that an expected rise in the energy price cap in April will plunge 1.5 million more households into fuel poverty.

It says the hike will be a disaster for people already struggling to pay their bills. The average gas bill in October 2020 was £467, but NEA projects this to rise to £955 in April.

Adam Scorer, CEO of National Energy Action, says: “What SSE said was misjudged and they were right to apologise. But let’s not get distracted from what this crisis demands by way of response.

“By April, six million UK households could be in fuel poverty. The Government needs to understand the challenge and get the tone and response right to provide immediate financial assistance to those on the lowest incomes and insulate them from crippling energy bills for good through a major targeted energy efficiency programme for the fuel poor.”

It comes as MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis announced on Tuesday he would donate £100,000 to the charity to boost its web chat advice service for vulnerable people so it can free up its helplines by April 1 when energy bills are set to rise by 51 percent.

In November 2020, the charity attributed 8,500 deaths to cold homes for the previous winter.

A rise in demand for oil and gas in Asia, the recovery of some economies after Covid lockdowns and a summer with less wind generating alternative power have contributed to rising energy costs.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been contacted.

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