Hug Your Dog: British Energy Company Gives ‘Dickensian’ Tips to Stay Warm Amid Soaring Prices

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: A girl hugs her dog on the first day of Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre on March 5, 2015 in Birmingham, England. First held in 1891, Crufts is said to be the largest show of its kind in the world, the annual …
Carl Court/Getty Images

One of the United Kingdom’s largest energy suppliers was forced to apologise after advising Britons to “cuddle with your pets” to keep warm amid soaring energy prices.

An email to customers of SSE Energy Services, a subsidiary of OVO Energy — the third-largest supplier in Britain — laid out ten “cost-effective” methods of keeping warm during the winter months.

One of the suggestions sent out by the energy supplier included having “a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy,” according to the Financial Times.

Other methods in the email included holding a “hula-hoop contest” with children, cleaning the house, or doing jumping jacks.

The email went on to give dietary advice for staying warm, telling people to “stick to non-alcoholic drinks” like water as drinking alcohol can lead to a drop in body temperature. On the other hand, eating porridge was recommended because it “will help increase your body temperature, as they take longer to digest”.

Commenting to the paper, a government source said that the email’s recommendations sounded “like some Dickensian nightmare”.

The email came amid an energy crunch across Europe and Britain. Analysts have predicted yearly household energy bills will increase by as much as 50 per cent in the UK, hitting £2,000 by April when national regulator Ofgem is set to review the price cap.

Charities have warned that the jump in prices could see some 6 million households into fuel poverty if actions are not taken by the government to mitigate the crisis.

Some, including Brexit’s Nigel Farage, have called on the government to scrap the taxes on energy being directed into green energy subsidies, which reportedly make up a quarter of average energy expenditures by the public.

OVO was ultimately forced into apologising for the email, but not before others, including members of parliament, took aim at the supplier.

The Labour MP Darren Jones said: “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.”

“I’m not sure who signed off a marketing campaign telling people to wear a jumper and eat porridge instead of turning the heating on if you can afford it,” he added on social media.

Former cabinet minister, Tory MP Theresa Villiers said that she believed the advice was most likely well-intentioned but admitted that it came off as “pretty insensitive”.

In a statement, OVO said: “Last week a link to a blog containing energy-saving tips was sent to customers. 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.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.