Energy bills top consumers’ worry list of household expenses, EY survey finds


21-04-2015

Over a quarter of consumers across East Anglia say that their energy bill is the household expense they worry the most about being able to afford, according to the results of an EY survey published today.

 
  • Over a quarter (26%) of consumers in East Anglia say that their energy bill is the one they worry the most about being able to afford – more than their mortgage payments (15%)
  • But 25% would be willing to pay more per month towards investment in renewable energy
  • Levels of clarity around the components of energy bills remain low with just 13%  of consumers having a full understanding of where their money goes


 EY surveyed 2,000 consumers – 149 from East Anglia – to assess how confident they feel about the affordability of their energy bills, as well as how well they understand them.

The survey reveals that energy bills are still a greater cause for concern to consumers than their mortgage payments and food bills, with just 15% and 9% respectively stating that they are worried about affording these expenses the most.

Six per cent of respondents in East Anglia noted that they had missed one or more home energy bill payments in the last year, with consumers in the West Midlands (18%) and Scotland (11%) emerging as the least confident UK regions about being able to meet their energy bill payments.

Cathy Taylor, senior partner at EY in Cambridge said: “Despite recent price reductions, it remains the case that East Anglian consumers are still more concerned about affording their home energy costs than other key expenses such as mortgages. This picture may improve in the coming months as more customers come to the end of tariffs with prices which were fixed a year or more ago. Energy suppliers can then use this opportunity to re-establish a relationship with customers centred on value, service and innovation.”

Appetite to support investment in renewables is strong

Despite affordability concerns, when the 149 people surveyed across East Anglia were presented with a choice of whether to pay more on their bills, or nothing more, 44% said that they would be prepared to pay between £1 - £5 per month to help combat climate change. At the same time 21% of those surveyed said that they were willing to pay between £6 - £10 per month to fund renewable energy.

Overall, nearly half (49%) of respondents were willing to pay more if they were clear on what the funding was supporting, including receiving a better service, or funding insulation measures and energy infrastructure.

Taylor comments: “Our survey reveals a perhaps surprising degree of willingness to pay more for our energy. But only when the purpose is clear there is a strong link to investment for the future health of our energy system.”

Where does the money go? Understanding the breakdown of energy bills remains low

Asked how clear an understanding consumers have of what makes up their energy bill, just 13% from East Anglia said that they fully understand their bill. A further 44% said that they have a somewhat clear understanding of the makeup of their energy bills.  

Taylor concludes: “The scale and breadth of change that the energy industry is currently delivering is the greatest ever and shows no sign of letting up. As the majority of consumers take a more active interest in their energy, their supplier and what their money is being used for it is vital that industry and government alike take responsibility to empower and inform them. This will not only equip consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions, but also help to gain their support for the reform that the UK’s energy infrastructure needs.”

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Hannah Forrester
EY Media Relations
+44 (0)121 535 2997
+44 (0)7900 703 020
HForrester@uk.ey.com
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