Hug your pet and do star jumps to keep warm as gas bills soar says energy firm

11 January 2022, 08:56 | Updated: 11 January 2022, 10:09

An energy supplier has fallen under fire for issuing customers with light-hearted advice to stay warm as energy bills soar
An energy supplier has fallen under fire for issuing customers with light-hearted advice to stay warm as energy bills soar. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Hug your pets or do star jumps to keep warm as the price of gas continues to soar, an energy supplier has told its customers.

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Ovo Energy sparked outrage after it also recommended customers eat "hearty bowls of porridge" and avoid alcoholic drinks, in an email to customers of Ovo-owned SSE Energy Service seen by the Financial Times.

The email listed 10 ways to "keep warm this winter".

It told people to stay active, suggesting "challenging the kids to a hula hoop competition" or "cleaning the house" in addition to doing star jumps.

It also recommend customers carefully choose what they eat, advising people to eat ginger but avoid chilli because of it's potential to make you sweat.

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Ovo has since apologised for the advice, which was branded "insensitive" and "insulting" by MPs, telling FT: "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 recognise that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful.

"We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise."

Bristol North West MP and chairman of the Business Select Committee Darren Jones said Ovo Energy's tips were "offensive" and called on the company to apologise.

In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: "I'm not sure who signed off a marketing campaign telling people to wear a jumper and eat porridge instead of turning on the heating if you can't afford it."

Tory MP and former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said the advice was "insensitive" despite being well-intentioned.

"Many people are very anxious about rising energy bills and won't take kindly to being told to do some star jumps," she said.

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It came as Britain's cost-of-living crisis is expected to worsen.

According to some predictions, energy bills could rise by more than 50 per cent in April for millions of households that are on a standard tariff, when the cap on the amount suppliers can charge will rise again.

The increases are due to a major spike in global gas prices, which have been pushed up by high demand around the world.

Trade body Energy UK's chief executive, Emma Pinchbeck, said last month that the Government could cut each household bill by £90 by slashing taxes or VAT.

Meanwhile, bills could be cut by a further £190 by bringing forward proposals on removing policy costs.

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Labour will today press the Government to cut VAT on energy bills for a year in an effort to save families as much as £600.

They will table a motion that, if passed, would force MPs to vote on the proposals.

The Government has previously resisted calls to cut VAT, with Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi saying oil and gas companies were "already struggling".