Energy giant E.ON has been told it is ‘having a laugh’ over a blog suggesting people light candles and paint walls to ‘make homes cosy’.
The supplier also recommends wrapping up in blankets and having indoor plants for wellbeing in a ‘light-hearted’ post on its website.
The advice follows SSE, another ‘big six energy firm’, recommending people cuddle pets and eat porridge in ‘energy-saving tips’ to stay warm.
On the blog, E.ON says: ‘Candles can immediately create a lovely and warm atmosphere for a relaxing night at home.
‘But many traditional candles are paraffin-based and release harmful toxins into the air when they burn.
‘So make sure you don’t generate harmful indoor air pollution in your home, opt instead for candles made from natural wax.’
The post also suggests: ‘If you’re willing to put in more time and effort, consider painting your home in warm colours.
‘A fresh lick of paint can easily transform your room and make it feel cosier -consider darker greens, reds, pinks and rust for that autumnal feel.’
Another tip suggests using ‘plenty of cushions, throws and blankets’ and a winter duvet to ‘feel warmer and cosier at night’.
The suggestions come as Britain faces an escalating cost of living crisis, with sky-rocketing power bills predicted to hit an average of £2,000-a-year per household in April.
Andi Conway, a social welfare homeless officer based in Warwickshire, said: ‘These utility companies are having a laugh. First SSE said eat porridge to keep warm and now E.ON say light a cosy candle and wrap up in blankets and winter duvets.
‘No, do not light a candle, elderly people with osteoporosis are not safe with candles. People pushed to the brink by soaring energy bills cannot afford £26 for a Yankee.
‘Extra layers do not help, as it leads people to stay in bed, which is the quickest way to deteriorate.
‘At 3am this morning I was talking to a guy whose mental health was through the roof. He had no food, no card to top up electricity and he isn’t able to boil water, let alone provide himself a meal or fill a freezer.
‘These corporates need to live in the real world.’
The suggestion that candles should be used to ‘create a cosy glow’ was questioned by The Children’s Burns Trust.
The blog did not carry safety advice within the blurb of the tip, although E.ON said it was present elsewhere in the entry, which has since been removed from the supplier’s website.
Ken Dunn, a retired burn and plastic surgeon and a trustee at the charity, said: ‘In 2020, more than 8,000 children were seriously burned or scalded through accidents in the home, requiring admission to a specialist burn service. This figure only relates to the more serious burns and scalds – it does not include the thousands seen by A&E departments.
‘Children are curious, and so it really is everyday items, including candles, that pose the greatest risk to their safety.
‘We were surprised to see E.ON recommending the use of candles to make a home cosy, but without any reference to some of the key safety warnings that keep people safe.
‘We are passionate that any family-aimed messaging around candles must be accompanied by clear safety guidance, including keeping them away from children, never on a surface that may burn, away from anything that may catch light and never leaving them unattended.’
The cost of living crisis has led to stark warnings that rising energy bills – predicted to mean a 50% hike from April – will hit the most vulnerable in society. An alliance of 25 charities warned the government today that people will die in cold homes.
An E.ON spokesperson said: ‘E.ON has invested billions of pounds and helped millions of people around the country to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, including better insulation and more efficient heating. We’ve also provided hundreds of millions of pounds in direct financial support for those in need.
‘Alongside all of that, we offer help, advice and lifestyle tips so customers can use less energy in their everyday lives.
‘We’re sorry for any confusion we have caused as we could have made it clearer this particular blog was intended to be a more light-hearted way to help people feel cosier at home.
‘It includes safety advice for people using candles in their homes and we’re happy to take any feedback on board and make sure our advice is always as helpful and safe as it can be.’
Ovo Energy, which is owned by SSE Energy Services, has apologised for its blog recommending porridge, saying it is ‘working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis’.
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