One in five households to hold off heating homes until December as energy costs rise says Nationwide

by | Oct 12, 2022

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Around one in five (18%) households will hold off heating their homes until at least December – around two months later than usual – as the latest energy price cap sets in, according to research from Nationwide Building Society.

It comes as 81 per cent of people have taken steps to reduce their outgoings since the previous energy price cap came into effect in April.

The research1 was commissioned as part of the Society’s efforts to understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, with the most recent energy price cap having been implemented in October. It comes as Britain’s biggest building society begins offering cost of living financial health checks to struggling members – offering appointments in branch, over the telephone or video (see below for more information). This follows the launch of its freephone cost-of-living hotline2 (0800 030 40 66) in August.

According to the poll, more than three quarters of people (78%) said they would layer up and wear warmer clothes rather than put on the heating and over a fifth (22%) said switching their heating on would only happen on rare occasions. Just 21 per cent of households have turned on central heating so far this year while more than nine in ten (91%) are consciously switching on the lights less. Typically, households will start to switch their heating on from October due to temperatures starting to quickly fall as Autumn sets in2.

Nationwide’s research also shines a light on how fragile finances are for many at a time it is starting to get colder, with around a third (32%) having been unable to save any money since April to help cushion against rising energy prices. Furthermore, almost 40 per cent have save no more than £300 aside since April, with only 13 per cent able to putting more away.

This is potentially leaving many households racking up further debt, with one in five (20%) saying they would consider using their credit card to cover energy bills due to rising costs whilst 15 per cent would consider taking out a personal loan.

In order to save money households have committed themselves to a range of other cost-cutting measures. These include:

  • 60% have spent less on non-essentials since April
  • 53% are trying to budget better
  • 48% will continue cut back on takeaways and eating out
  • 40% have reduced spend on fresh meat at the supermarket since April
  • 36% have reduced how much they use their car to save money
  • 34% will cut back on their food shop
  • 33% have changed where they shop for their groceries
  • 33% are making do and mending old clothes rather than buy new
  • 27% have reduced how much they spend on fresh fruit and vegetables since April
  • 27% will cut back on putting money in savings
  • 25% will only turn their heating on in specific rooms

Mandy Beech, Nationwide’s Director of Retail Services, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is continuing to apply pressure on households across the UK. This poll shows how stretched many are becoming, even considering the government’s energy price cap, with people having to think carefully about when, and in what rooms, they turn their heating on.

“Now more than ever, we would encourage anyone who is struggling financially to speak to their financial services provider. It is precisely for this reason we launched our cost-of-living hotline, which members can call if they have any worries or concerns about their finances today or tomorrow. We have also started offering financial health checks for our members, where one of our experts will be able to discuss their situation in branch, on the telephone or over video. Our big ask is for members who are finding things tough to please get in touch.”

Nationwide cost-of-living support:

At this time, Nationwide Building Society is supporting members struggling with the rising cost of living. A freephone cost-of-living hotline (0800 030 40 66) for those experiencing money worries was launched on 1 August. The service is supported by dedicated, trained experts based across the Society’s main branches. It is available from 9am-4.30pm weekdays and 9am-12pm Saturdays. Nationwide is aiming to answer calls to the hotline within ten minutes. Outbound calls are also being made.

Since September, all frontline colleagues are now trained to provide additional cost-of-living help for members, whether in branch or on the telephone, and this month Nationwide’s cost-of-living experts started to offer face-to-face, telephone and video appointments. Virtual and in-branch events will be held for members from the autumn, providing practical help with managing money and avoiding financial pitfalls.

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