Britain’s third-largest energy provider has sparked outrage after advising households to save on heating bills this winter by “cuddling”, eating “heart porridge” and sticking to “non-alcoholic drinks”.
The advice issued by a division of Ovo Energy to its customers on Monday was “insulting” and “offensive”, MPs said.
The company’s email includes 10 “easy and cost-effective ways to keep warm in winter,” such as “cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help keep you comfortable” and eat ginger but avoid chili peppers “because it makes you sweat.”
Britons face the greatest squeeze their income Since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Millions of households’ energy bills are expected to rise by more than 50%, or £700, to £2,000 a year per household in April when the UK’s energy price cap is adjusted.
Business Select Committee chairman Darren Jones called on Ovo to apologise to its customers for the “insensitive” comments.
“It is obviously offensive to be told to put on a jumper instead of turning on the heat at a time when so many families are in such a difficult time,” the Labour MP said.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Teresa Villiers said the suggestion was likely well-intentioned but “very insensitive”. “Many people are very anxious about rising energy bills and won’t accept being told to do some star jumping,” she added.
This Energy bills are about to rise This follows a record surge in wholesale gas and electricity prices since last summer. The energy regulator Ofgem in October raised the cap on bills that determine more than 15 million households by 12%.
Charity warns of possible surge in energy prices Let millions of families plummet Trapped in “fuel poverty”, exacerbating the looming cost of living crisis.
The email also included suggestions to “get moving” by “putting the kids in a hula hoop contest,” cleaning the room, or “jumping a few stars.”
Ginger is recommended because it “keeps you warm by promoting blood flow,” and complex carbohydrates, including porridge, “will help raise your body temperature because they take longer to digest.”
Customers were also advised to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can cause body temperature to drop, but they were warned that “the warmth from wine or whisky is temporary as you lose core heat quickly and end up feeling colder”. It added: “Stick to non-alcoholic beverages.”
One government source said the advice to eat porridge and quit drinking was “like a Dickensian nightmare”.
Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis said the guide was “clown-like” and “frustrating”.
“It’s ridiculous and insulting, but with this government’s lack of an energy strategy, you can almost expect it,” he said. The comments “will be read by people who have to choose between eating and heating . . . if that’s the state of the country we’re in right now, I find it frustrating”.
Ovo declined to comment further on the recommendation.