"I'm always telling my kids off"
High energy bills in the UK are causing arguments in households and this includes Asian households.
In April 2023, the energy price cap will rise to £3,000.
Households are trying to use their energy efficiently to try and save money, however, divisions are emerging and arguments are increasing as a result.
According to research from Uswitch, more than half of households are falling out every week.
Citizens Advice says: “Issues surrounding energy bills can create tension in households, with disagreements over usage and costs leading to arguments and strain on relationships.”
One of the most common sources of conflict is leaving lights on in empty rooms.
It causes an average of 57 fights a year, with 31% of households arguing each week about the bad habit.
In many cases, it is a child, with parents turning off three billion lights left on in empty rooms each year.
Mother-of-two Priya Patel says this is a common occurrence in her household.
“I’m always telling my kids off for forgetting to turn a light off.”
This habit is estimated to add nearly £11 a year to energy bills.
In an Asian household, it is more of an issue as they typically spend more on their energy bills.
This was the case even before the cost of living crisis as the Race Equality Foundation found that energy bills for Asian households were 11.2% higher on average compared to white households.
This is because many Asian households in larger homes have multiple generations living together.
It is also because of living arrangements and the varied routine of each family member.
But this can also cause arguments between each other as different generations have separate routines and don’t always cook and eat meals together.
As a result, more energy such as cookers and lights are used.
Gas expenditure for Asian households is 20% higher than usual.
There tends to be arguments between older and younger generations as they disagree on what is a comfortable temperature in the home.
This is a common source of arguments, with 22% of households arguing at least once a week.
Amardeep Singh says: “I like to keep warm in the house but my son complains that it is too hot, which almost always ends up in an argument.
“Arguments have become more common since the rise in energy bills and it is starting to tarnish our relationship.”
When it comes to the ideal thermostat temperature, James Longley, Managing Director at Utility Bidder, says:
“Commonly, the average temperature of a thermostat in a UK household is 18.7°C, and anywhere between this figure and 21°C is commonplace when it comes to the colder winter months.”
But it is not just heating the home which causes arguments.
Leaving front and back doors open causes heat to be lost and leads to arguments, with 19% of households having at least one a week.
Speaking about this subject, Pooja says:
“My husband always does this and it really annoys me. I shout at him for it and I always get the same answer that he only left the door open for a second.
“Energy bills are not cheap.”
Similarly, 17% of UK households have at least one row a week about leaving windows open.
Another source of household energy conflict is the television being left on when no one is watching it, causing 45 arguments a year.
Parents claim that they turn off the TV 218 times a year on average. This is typically due to children watching TV and then going off to do something without turning it off.
Generally, Asian households and other ethnic minorities are more likely to struggle to pay bills.
Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said the ONS energy expenditure figures, “whilst deeply worrying”, were “not surprising”.
He said: “It is very likely that the rise in energy costs has already pushed these households to the cliff edge, even with the support of the ‘energy cap’.
With such pressures affecting Asian households, efforts are constantly being made to save money.
And when a family member prevents this from happening, it is no surprise that conflict arises.