An energy company that raised its bills by 18 per cent last year has told its customers to cut their gas and electricity costs by giving up tea, showering with other people, going to bed early and playing Monopoly.
First Utility – Britain’s biggest independent energy firm, with 120,000 customers – says households should follow the “5:2 energy diet” based on the principles of the popular weight-loss programme. The company, which charges an average £1,120 for dual fuel each year, advises customers: “Just stick to the low-usage energy plan on fast days, then use what you like on the other five and you could save an average of £154 a year.”
Its suggestions include: “Shower together. It can save you £34 a year – just ask permission from the other person first!” First Utility also proposes that customers “opt for an early night”: “Putting out the lights and turning off the box can save you £18 a year – and it could be lots of fun.”
Giving up caffeine is another suggestion. “Cut down on tea and coffee and don’t boil the kettle,” the firm advises. “Staying away from a hot drink twice a week could save you approximately £10 a year.”
Other ideas include cooking in bulk and microwaving meals for two nights a week as “the microwave is a far more efficient way to heat food than the oven”. The company also suggests customers should read rather than watching TV – “it could save you £12 a year” or “play Monopoly, or any other family game”.
Shadow Energy minister Tom Greatrex said the advice was an “insult” to millions of people struggling to pay their bills, and added: “Rising energy bills really aren’t a laughing matter and cause genuine hardship for millions of people. Issuing ridiculous advice, however tongue-in-cheek, will insult and annoy many consumers who are struggling to heat and power their homes this winter.”
Ed Kamm, of First Utility, said the advice was meant to make people think rather than belittle fuel poverty: “These tips are meant to provide some advice on how we might reduce our energy usage and absolutely not intended to trivialise the issue of fuel poverty, something we take very seriously.”