Research from has revealed that almost 4 million UK households are currently in debt to their energy supplier. The annual report shows that those indebted to energy companies owe, on average, £131 – a 4 percent rise from last year’s levels.

The report estimates that collectively, consumers owe a colossal £478 million to the energy giants that supply 99 percent of the country. The rise in debt follows successive price hikes from the Big Six, with average bills standing at a punishing 53 percent (£433) higher than in 2008. Energy suppliers were quick to celebrate a series of cuts to their prices by just over 3 percent. However, the average household energy bill is still 17 percent higher than just over a year ago. As a result energy debt is expected to increase yet again.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at, says: “With households still struggling to absorb last year’s price hikes, energy debt is on the rise again. And although suppliers have cut their prices this year, the average reduction of £41 or 3.2% doesn’t come near the average increase of £224 or 21% seen since the end of 2010 – as a result consumers will continue to struggle to pay their bills and debt will continue to grow.

“Those in energy debt can face a catch-22. Despite knowing they could reduce their bills by moving to a cheaper energy plan, consumers can see debt as a barrier to switching. However, our research shows that while the average debt is £131, consumers could save up to £420 just by switching. So while they may have to pay any outstanding debt to switch, by cutting the cost of their energy they could avoid falling back in to debt in the future.

“The important thing is to keep a lid on energy costs – make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for your energy and cut down on the amount of energy you use. Paying energy bills by direct debit will help to cut the cost as suppliers offer valuable discounts for paying this way. Consumers should also make sure that they or their supplier are taking regular meter readings as relying on estimated bills can be a shortcut to debt. Anyone who is concerned about managing their energy bills should contact their supplier to discuss the options.”