by Emily Gosden, Energy Editor, The Telgraph | view original article
Energy supplier that raised prices by 18 per cent last year also advises consumers to give up tea and coffee and play Monopoly
Cash-strapped energy bill-payers should give up hot drinks, take showers together and go to bed early in order to cut their energy usage, according to a supplier that raised prices by 18 per cent last year.
First Utility, Britain’s biggest independent energy supplier, which has about 300,000 customers, issued its advice in a “5:2 energy diet” plan that it said would cut £150 from a typical bill.
It suggested consumers reduce their energy usage on two days of each week by following the tips, such as to “opt for an early night”.
“Up to you what you do,” it said, “but putting out the lights and turning off the box can save you £18 a year – and it could be lots of fun…”
The supplier, which raised priced by 18 per cent last summer, advised customers to “shower together”, adding: “Romantic or awkward? Either way sharing a shower can save you £34 a year. Just ask permission from the other person first!”
It also suggested consumers “give up caffeine” as by not boiling a kettle for two days a week they could save about £10 a year.
Playing Monopoly “or any other family game” and reading books instead of watching TV, cooking in bulk and using a clothes airer instead of the tumble dryer were also on the list.
The advice met a chilly reception from Labour’s shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex. “Rising energy bills really aren’t a laughing matter and cause genuine hardship for millions of people,” he said. “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, First Utility’s chief customer officer, defended the advice, saying: “We consistently offer some of the cheapest tariffs on the market and guarantee to be cheaper than the Big Six standard tariffs. But we also want to help our customers use less energy where they can by shedding some light on what different activities cost.
“These tips are meant to provide some advice as to how we might reduce our energy usage and absolutely not intended to trivialise the issue of fuel poverty, something we take very seriously.”
First Utility is known for its outspoken approach to encouraging customers to cut their energy usage
Ian McCaig, its chief executive, told the Telegraph last year he believed consumers should turn their heating down and wear a jumper to save money.
“When did we all start thinking it was all right to walk around our houses in the middle of winter with our shorts and T-shirts on? When did that become a sensible activity?,” he said.
The supplier’s official website offers slightly less eye-catching energy-saving tips, such as adjusting the thermostat timing and waiting until the dishwasher is full before using it.
It is understood the “5:2 energy diet” advice was sent to a small number of journalists before Christmas and had not been sent to customers directly.
The advice is the latest energy company PR ploy to backfire after British Gas last year attracted derision for hosting a Twitter Q&A session on the same day as announcing a 9.2 per cent price rise.
The “#AskBG” chat triggered an avalanche of mocking comments and questions.