Friday, December 2, 2022

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The energy crisis could lead to more people making risky decisions, the insurer warns

People could become riskier making risky decisions about how to heat and light their homes this winter as energy costs rise, an insurer warns.

One in seven (13%) people could light candles this winter to help keep energy bills down, according to a study by Zurich UK.

Fires caused by candles can cost homeowners with average repair bills of £18,000, the insurer said.

Claims processed by Zurich last year included a £140,000 fire from an unattended candle.

In another recent incident, a customer from Zurich escaped unharmed when her duvet caught fire on an electric heater, causing £200,000 in damage.

Paul Redington, claims adjuster at Zurich UK, said: “The energy crisis is forcing people to make difficult – and potentially more dangerous – decisions about how to heat and light their homes.”

He added: “Accidental fires could rise higher this winter as households use candles to keep energy bills down or deal with potential blackouts.

“Whether people use candles out of choice or necessity, we want to make sure they are aware of the potential dangers and protect themselves.

“Candles can burn uncontrollably in a matter of seconds, with devastating consequences.

“Homeowners should always store candles in secure holders, blow them out before leaving a room, and ensure open flames are well away from soft furnishings such as curtains and bedspreads.”

The Energy Price Guarantee caps the unit cost of electricity and gas, meaning that a typical UK household pays an average of around £2,500 a year on its energy bill.

The guarantee does not cap the total bill so some households could potentially pay more, possibly depending on factors such as the insulation of their home, the size and number of people living in it.

The Energy Cost Support Scheme gives households a £400 non-refundable rebate.

The UK government is planning blackouts but said they were extremely unlikely.

According to the Zurich study, more women than men switch off the lights in favor of candles this winter.

The cities where people were most likely to say they would light candles were Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Sheffield.

Zurich also found that some people would use an open fire to heat a room this winter.

Mr Redington added: “With energy costs threatening to overwhelm household budgets, some people may turn off their central heating and use log fires or portable heaters to heat a single room in their home.

“When people use these devices, check that they are in good condition and place them away from flammable objects. If you light an open fire, make sure the chimney is properly swept and protected by a fire screen.”

In September, a survey of opinium among 2,000 people across the UK was carried out for Zurich.

Here are some safety tips from Zurich for handling candles:

1. Never leave lit candles unattended and always extinguish them when you leave the room, even for a moment.

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