UK's Ovo Energy Sorry for 'Poorly Judged' Advice to 'Cuddle Pets, Eat Porridge' as Energy Bills Soar

CC0 / / Snowy english cottage
Snowy english cottage - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.01.2022
Ovo Energy, one of the UK’s largest suppliers, had earlier sent a link to a blog “containing energy-saving tips” to customers of SSE Energy Services, a brand which it owns. The blog suggested people should “have a cuddle with your pets and loved ones”, keep moving by “cleaning the house… or doing a few star jumps” to stay warm.
Britain's Ovo Energy has issued a statement, apologising to its customers for advising them to stay warm by cuddling pets and eating porridge amid concerns over rising energy bills.
One of the UK’s largest energy suppliers said in the statement to the BBC it was “embarrassed” after sending customers of SSE Energy Service (a brand it acquired in 2020) a link to a blog “containing energy-saving tips”.
"We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise… We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year," said the supplier.
Ovo Energy added it recognised the content of the blog was "poorly judged and unhelpful", and said it had removed it to "update it" with "more meaningful information for customers".
The now-deleted SSE webpage had offered 10 tips on “keeping warming in the winter without turning up the heating”, according to a story first reported in the Financial Times. The advice included wearing extra clothes, keeping the oven open after “you’ve finished cooking”, and by having "a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy".
Other tips suggested “cleaning the house, challenging the kids to a hula-hoop contest, or doing a few star jumps”.
Darren Jones, chair of the Commons business select committee, had slammed the advice from the supplier boasting about 4.5 million customers as "insensitive".
"Being told to put on a jumper instead of turning on your heating if you can't afford it, at a time of such difficulty for so many families, is plainly offensive," the Labour MP was cited by FT as saying.
After Ovo Energy's apology, Jones went on Twitter to applaud the decision, while also wondering who had conceived such a marketing campaign in the first place.
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Wholesale gas and power prices have been skyrocketing, driven by the major energy crisis that has gripped the UK and other European nations. Factors contributing to rising energy costs have included increased oil and gas demand in Asia, a rapid recovery of some economies after COVID-19 lockdown, depleted underground gas storage reserves across the region due to a longer and colder than usual spring of 2020-2021 and a summer characterised by little wind to generate alternative power.
Energy bills are expected to rise by up to 50% in April, according to the trade body Energy UK. That is the month when the UK domestic consumer price cap is slated to be updated next by market regulator Ofgem.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government had earlier approved raising the price cap in the spring, with experts are forecasting a potential annual cost of average usage soaring from £1,277- the current cap per household since October - to £2,000.
With UK inflation at a 10-year high and expected to increase further, and prices of consumer goods rising almost weekly, many have warned of a cost-of-living “crisis”.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has emphasised that he "understands" how people are struggling and was "looking at what we can do" to help.
“There’s a general inflationary pressure caused by the world economy coming back from Covid, and in the US, I think, inflation is likely to be the highest it’s been since the early eighties. The eurozone is experiencing exactly the same thing… We’ve got to help people, particularly people on low incomes, we’ve got to help people with the cost of their fuel, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Johnson during his visit to a pharmacy in Uxbridge on Monday.
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