Britain’s third-largest energy supplier has apologized, saying it was “embarrassed” after advising customers to keep their heating bills low by “having fun with your pets”, eating “hearty bowls of porridge” and “making a few star jumps”.
MPs called the guidance issued by a department of Ovo Energy on Monday “insulting” and “offensive” as millions of British households face a “cost of living disaster” in the spring, including an increase in the energy bill to as much as £ 2,000 a year on April 1 for an average household at the direct debit rate.
The email sent to customers at SSE Energy Services, which Ovo bought in 2020, listed 10 “simple and cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter”, such as “stick to non-alcoholic beverages”, do household chores, garden ” a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cozy and “encourage blood flow” by eating ginger, but avoid chili, “as it makes you sweat”.
Customers were also advised to “get moving” by “challenging the kids to a hula-hoop competition” and drinking more water along with the warning that the “warming feeling from wine or whiskey is temporary as you will soon lose the heat from your core and end up feeling even colder, ”the Financial Times reported.
Conservative MP and former minister Theresa Villiers said the council was likely well-meaning but at the same time “rather insensitive”.
“A lot of people are very worried about rising energy bills and would not kindly accept being told to do some star jumps,” she said.
Labor MP Darren Jones, who also chairs the House of Commons’ business, energy and industry strategy committee, said the company should apologize to its customers.
“Being told to put on a jumper instead of turning on your heat if you can not afford it, at a time of such difficulty for so many families, is clearly offensive,” he said.
Clive Lewis, Labor MP for Norwich South, said the recommendations were “clown-like” and “depressing”.
“It’s ridiculous and insulting, but with this government’s lack of an energy strategy, you almost expect it,” he said, adding that the email “will be read by people who have to choose between eating and heating. […] if that is the situation in the country we are in now, I think it is quite depressing ”.
Record-high wholesale price increases for gas and electricity have prompted the government to explore possible ways to mitigate the effect on household bills after Tory MPs urged Boris Johnson to act and help consumers.
Proponents fear that fuel poverty could hit the highest level since registrations began, unless the government intervenes and warns that 6 million. British homes may not be able to pay energy bills following a further rise in prices in the spring.
Ovo said: “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 recognize that the content of this blog was poorly assessed and inappropriate “We are embarrassed and sincerely apologize.”