Ovo Energy group tells Brits ‘cuddle a pet’ to stay warm amid soaring bills

Brits have been left furious after one of the nation's largest energy companies told them to cuddle a pet and eat porridge to stay warm and save on heating bills.

Ovo Energy has now apologised after it sent out advice including 10 “simple and cost effective ways to keep warm this winter” to customers of SSE Energy Services, the business it acquired in 2020.

The company sent its customers a link to a blog which advised them to warm up by putting on a few extra layers of clothing, doing a few star jumps and cutting out alcohol.

The advice came as people in the UK brace themselves for energy bills to rise by hundreds of pounds in April.

It was also recommended that customers have “a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy” and eat ginger to warm up.

However, the company said chilli should be avoided “as it makes you sweat”.

In a section which was titled "find extra heat" people were also told: "You don't always need to rely on your central heating to stay warm. Here are some lesser-known ways to find extra warmth from other sources."

"Open your curtains when it's sunny, to warm your home naturally," was one tip.

Customers were also told "keep your oven open after you've finished cooking" but take care to keep pets and young children away from it.

The advice, which was sent to millions of people, was described as inappropriate and “plainly offensive” by Members of Parliament.

After the story was first published by the Financial Times, Darren Jones, a Labour MP and chairman of the business select committee, called on Ovo to apologise to its customers for the “insensitive” comments.

Many Brits also took to social media to slam Ovo’s guidance, with some calling the comments "cruel".

One Twitter account said that instead of telling people how to warm up, Ovo should have offered a more meaningful solution to rising energy bills – such as reducing its profit margin for the interim period “to alleviate the pressures” on its customers.

Ovo has said it's “embarrassed” to have issued “poorly judged and unhelpful” guidance.

The company said in a statement: “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."

After the statement was issued, Mr Jones wrote on Twitter: “Good, I'm glad they apologised. I'm not sure who signed off a marketing campaign telling people to wear a jumper and eat porridge instead of turning on the heating if you can't afford it.”

Energy bills in Britain are expected to rise by more than half to £2,000 a year per household when the price cap is adjusted in April.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said last week that there was only so much help the Conservative government could offer to households facing increasing bills.

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