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Consumers turn to energy efficiency as 46% struggle to pay energy bills

Insulation and solar are among the energy efficiency measures being most considered by households. Image: Pixabay

Insulation and solar are among the energy efficiency measures being most considered by households. Image: Pixabay

The impact of rising energy bills is continuing to be documented, with the number of households finding it challenging to pay rising as interest in energy efficiency also increases.

Over four in ten (46%) adults who pay energy bills in Great Britain are finding it very or somewhat difficult to afford their energy bills, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistic’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering 11-22 May.

This is an increase from 41% in the previous period, and is also up from 37% for 30 March to 10 April.

It comes at a time when energy bills have risen significantly - and are set to rise again in October when a new price cap comes into effect, with Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley stating it could reach £2,800.

Energy suppliers have also struggled, with 27 going bust in 2021 as well as Bulb entering special administration, while some in the industry have expressed concern that further failures could be on the horizon.

In the OPN, 4% of those who reported paying gas or electricity bills said they were behind on these bills, with this being the same as in the previous period and relatively stable since this question was first asked in March 2022.

However, analysis from charity Resolution Foundation found that April's price cap rise could see the number of households that find bills unaffordable jump from 9% to 27% across the UK.

Overall, 88% of adults in the OPN reported that their cost of living had risen in the past month, with the most common reasons being the price of food shopping (93%) and an increase in gas or electricity bills (85%).

Interest in energy efficiency measures has also risen. Around a quarter (26%) of adults said they were considering making changes in their home to energy efficiency, with this up from 19% when the question was last asked in autumn 2021.

The most common improvements being considered were improving insulation (42%), switching energy supplier (24%), installing solar panels (21%) or making other improvements (32%).

It follows increasing calls for the introduction of more energy efficiency policy, with the lack of energy efficiency measures in documents such as the Energy Bill and British Energy Security Strategy labelled as "missed opportunities" by many in the sector.

For those not considering energy efficiency, the most common reasons were that they would cost too much (36%), that they don’t own their own home (29%) or they felt their home was efficient enough (26%).

Schemes such as the Green Homes Grant have previously been introduced to help make energy efficiency more affordable, however the Green Homes Grant closed early after a number of administrative problems, with just 20% of the £1.5 billion initially allocated to the scheme having been spent.

Recent figures did show that installations under the scheme are resulting in an annual bill saving of £641,000, however.

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