Why we're trying to help our customers use less gas this Winter
We're in the midst of a true energy crisis here in the UK. The cost of energy we have to buy for our customers on the global wholesale market has increased 300% over the last year. 20+ energy suppliers have gone bust under the strain and millions of households are struggling to pay. We’re doing everything we can to help our customers through the Winter. If you're struggling to pay, please do get in touch.
The Winter Workout is one of our new initiatives: unlocking simple tips to help customers use less gas and save on bills while keeping cosy for years to come – while reducing their carbon footprint as well. It sits alongside our £2.5m financial hardship fund, Octo Assist; access to existing national schemes; support and guidance with account management; and our innovative free thermal camera loan scheme; all of which any of our team are here to talk to you about.
We've only just begun, but I wanted to share some incredibly promising results from Winter Workout’s first month, and talk a little more about why we’re doing this.
How's it going?
Nearly 250,000 customers have joined the Winter Workout.
Two thirds of them have reduced consumption, cutting their gas use by 12% on average.
In just over a month, they've saved more than £1,200,000
...and saved 5.8 million kilograms of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
Over 1.2 million tips have been completed so far to make homes warmer and more efficient.
Over 25,000 customers have shared their own energy tips with us, too!
Want to try the tips for yourself?
Even if you’re not participating, you can find a selection of Winter Workout tips published here and put them to use in your home to save cash and carbon. It really works, and can even be a bit of fun...
@OctopusEnergy @g__j loving the Octopus Winter Workout.Simplest tip that is working for me is turning the thermostat down by 1 degree over the course of our daily Nest schedule. It’s had a big impact over last week as we’re now nearly at target!Just got to keep it going now 🙌 pic.twitter.com/IKZH8NP2Wo— Ben Skidmore (@bdskidmore) January 4, 2022
Why are we doing this?
As an energy company, our job is to give customers access to heat and power. But not only that: we’re also here to make it as simple and affordable as possible for our customers to stay warm.
We take that role very seriously. It starts with the basics: always offering fair, transparent prices without a big markup (on average we only add 5% to the entire cost of supplying your energy to cover all our costs of doing business) and having a team full of compassionate humans armed with plenty of ways to support you through hard times.
For the customers who need it most, our £2.5 million Octo Assistance Fund, can help families struggling to pay, and we run special initiatives like our yearly scheme loaning out thermal cameras to spot heat loss in thousands of UK homes and businesses.
If you’re struggling to pay, all you need to do is get in touch and ask for our Financial Support form. This simple online tool will ask you a series of quick questions about your financial situation so we can work out how best to help.
This Winter, gas prices are higher than they’ve ever been. With the increase in buying gas on the global markets meaning energy bills across the board are up by hundreds of pounds, millions of households may struggle to stay warm. The exorbitant tariffs on the market aren’t down to rip-off suppliers. Wholesale energy costs have gone up 300% in the last year – and companies selling power below cost, or that haven’t bought enough in advance, are crumbling left right and centre.
28 energy suppliers went bust in 2021, leaving many people out of a job and displacing nearly 6 million customers. You may have seen our CEO Greg Jackson, talking about what we are trying to do to help customers, in the BBC "We don't know how high energy bills may go" or The Guardian "Energy boss says UK must find £20bn to ease soaring household bills".
There’s another hitch too. All of us using more gas to heat our homes also means more pollution in the atmosphere as the climate crisis grows more critical.
In such a dire situation, we want to come up with a plan to help people save significantly on bills, hopefully for years to come, without sacrificing warmth.
The Octopus Winter Workout
We hope that the Winter Workout can help offer advice for our customers to deliver lower bills, less pollution for the planet - all whilst staying warm.
There are lots of ways we can make our homes more energy efficient and save substantially on bills: but the trouble is, energy saving tips can be ten a penny. You’ll have seen the many listicles telling you to never leave the TV on standby, or only fill the kettle with the water you need. It’s so easy to tune out advice you’ve heard time and time again. Plus, if you don’t know how much you stand to benefit, and you can’t measure how well they work, it can feel like it’s not worth the effort.
We did our research, and asked Octopus heating engineers, physicists and independent experts from across our 2,000 strong global team, for the best simple, genuinely impactful, ways to use gas more efficiently. Not compromising on warmth, but making small adjustments you won’t even notice, so that the gas you use goes further, and keeps you warmer for longer. Stuff like adjusting your boiler’s flow temperature, and finding cheap ways to plug up drafts to keep heat in. We've also asked our Winter Workout customers to submit their own tips they'd like to share – whilst we can't officially endorse these, we'll share as many as possible with participants for them to make up their own minds.
Our data boffins used industry data and our own algorithms to develop a way of projecting what gas we expected participating customers would use over the 12 weeks of the Winter Workout. We shared that estimate with customers who wanted to take part, along with a simple online account tool where they could set a personal % savings target, tick off tips they’ve completed, and then watch their progress over the course of three months.
They’re able to compare their predicted gas consumption with their real meter readings after putting our tips into action and watch their savings grow to hit the target.
Finally, to help encourage more people to get involved in something they might not’ve been enthusiastic about before, we’ve added a £1 million prize pool. Every Winter Workout customer is in the draw for weekly prizes to reward their great efforts, and the more tips put to good use, the more chances customers have to win a grand prize at the end.
We've already spent £100 million over the last year subsidising high energy prices to keep customers’ bills lower (and £2.5 million on top of that added to our Octopus Assistance fund), and we decided to offer this prize pool as well to encourage customers to take part in something a little different.
Some customers have asked 'why don't you take that £1 million off our bills', but since £1 million spread across all our 3 million customers would be as little as a 30p discount we thought a prize pool would mean more. It gives customers the chance to win substantially, and (hopefully) encouraging many more to engage with ways to make significant savings on their bills.
Of course, any customer who wins but doesn’t feel they really need the prize also has the option to donate their winnings to fellow Octopus customers in need via the Octopus Assistance Fund – and we’ll match it.
A huge thank you to every customer who's joined in with the Winter Workout so far. Whether you've tried out tips, got involved on Twitter or shared a useful tip of your own, it all helps. It's so heartening to see the difference this has already made, not just on people's gas bills but for the planet as well.
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