A new poll has revealed almost four million customers owe money to their energy suppliers and that despite the mild winter, average energy bills currently stand at £1,265 a year - some £53 higher than in 2013 and almost £800 more than a decade ago.
The uSwitch poll revealed that some 43% of those affected will be forced to increase their direct debit amounts while another 9% have already contacted their suppliers to discuss a payment plan.
uSwitch's director of consumer policy Ann Robinson said: "This is a clear indication of the extreme pressure families are under to meet the rising cost of energy. For many consumers, the only thing that has kept this particular wolf from the door is the fact that this winter has been exceptionally mild."
One solution for homeowners struggling to heat their homes in the face of such rises is to adopt renewable energy which can have a dramatic impact on energy bills. Heat pumps supplied by Ice Energy Technologies to properties in Jaywick Village in Essex have seen some homeowners there turn debts to energy suppliers of £400 into credits of almost £200.
Managing director and founder Andrew Sheldon explains: "In Jaywick we were able to supply air source heat pumps as a replacement to electric storage heaters for some 650 properties. Speaking to the residents in Jaywick this week, we discovered that some have already had their monthly direct debit amounts reduced thanks to the efficiency of their heat pumps and others who had been facing a significant debt on their accounts were now well in credit.
"As well as providing a reliable and importantly, a cost-effective method of heating, the residents also felt that heat pumps had helped remove the constant worry of how energy bills were going to be paid which is something that you simply can't put a price on."
The good news for anyone considering heat pumps is that last month the government launched the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive which will provide quarterly income to those who have these renewable energy systems installed in their homes. The payments which are index-linked will be paid for seven years and are designed to recoup the installation costs and in some cases, could also provide some additional return on top.
"The Renewable Heat Incentive payments in conjunction with the running cost savings which heat pumps can provide, means that people across the UK are now in a better position than ever before to benefit from safe, reliable, cost-effective heating which can protect them from similar significant price rises in the future" said Mr. Sheldon.