Energy bill system 'contributing to deaths'Public health experts say low users paying extra

14 February 2011

The system used to calculate most domestic gas and electricity bills is contributing to thousands of deaths each winter, according to public health experts.

The UK Public Health Association says that two-tier tariffs, where you pay more for the first units you use, penalise the poor and discourage pensioners from turning on their heating.

The association's chairman, Professor John Ashton, says the system should be changed so that the first units you use are cheaper:

He said: 'We spend a lot of effort trying to prevent premature deaths at all ages but particularly in the elderly.

'This is something that we ought to be able to do quite simply, and one of the things is addressing this iniquitous pricing structure.'

Simpler tariffs needed

Which? energy expert Dr Fiona Cochrane said: 'This is a difficult issue, because the structure Professor Ashton is proposing can also affect vulnerable people, including people who have a large family and are at home during the day. 

'Consumers need to be able to make an informed choice so they can decide which tariff is best for them and their needs, which is why we're calling for simpler tariffs and a summary box on bills that sets out the key elements of the tariff.'

Read more about our campaign for simpler energy tariffs, and find out whether you could save money by switching tariffs using Which? Switch, our independent gas and electricity comparison website.

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You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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