The UK’s nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 means we’re all spending more time at home to stay safe, protect the NHS and save lives. It’s meant a big lifestyle shift for us all, not only in our personal lives but in our work lives too. More time spent in the house also means we’re more reliant on household utilities and that our energy and broadband usage is likely to be more than usual. We took a deep dive into usage figures to see how the consumption of energy and broadband has been impacted since the lockdown was implemented.
New daily routines shape usage
Lockdown has caused a change in our routines, and we’ve all had to adapt to a ‘new normal’. The data – based on figures from 24,000 smart meters across the UK – shows a 15% increase in home electricity usage in the month of April 2020, which equates to an increased cost of around £6 per household.
The power usage data also shows a change in our habits and daily routines with the traditional morning spike now evolving into a more gradual increase over the duration of the morning. It also shows a peak in home electricity usage between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, as people prepare their lunch at home.
As we all settle into our more regular routines, electricity usage dips by an average of 1.5% at 8:00pm every weekday evening. And, interestingly, we see a more pronounced dip of 2% every Thursday evening at 8:00pm, perhaps as households across the UK take part in the weekly Clap For Our Carers campaign.
How to avoid a spike in energy
It’s important that you stay on top of your usage and submit your meter readings to us to make sure you’re billed accurately and according to your exact consumption.
Without readings, your bill will be estimated and will not be as accurate as it could be. The easiest way to submit a reading is to log in to your online account.
When you submit meter readings, you’ll benefit from:
- Avoiding potential bill shock later on
- More accurate billing
- More accurate tariff comparisons
- Personalised energy saving tips
Customers with prepayment meters
A similar trend is taking place for customers with prepayment meters. In April, Shell Energy customers were topping up their meters with an average of £14.50 a week, up slightly from an average of £13.
To provide additional support for customers who have a traditional prepayment meter and may be struggling, we have been proactively calling elderly customers from our priority service register and customers with potential low credit balances to make sure they are able to top up.
For those who may be impacted financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also putting in place a number of measures to provide assistance, pledging to support all customers who need it and encouraging anyone who needs help to get in touch.
Broadband and calls increase
Broadband and phone lines have become a key way for people to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues during lockdown, and our research shows a strong increase in usage.
Between 16 March to 26 April, there was a 41% increase in the volume of calls made compared to the five weeks prior, and the average duration of calls has increased by 20%. The biggest increase was noted in the first two weeks of lockdown – 58%.
Internet usage has also increased significantly – with downloads up by 29% and uploads have surging by 65% – most likely due to the increase in video-conferencing calls, which require users to upload more data than they may usually do.
Support for both energy and broadband customers
We know that this is a challenging time for many of our customers and we have a number of measures in place to support you – particularly the most vulnerable who may be struggling financially.
You can find out about the support we have available via our website or over the phone for those who prefer to speak to our customer support team, who is working from home through this pandemic to support customers.
Energy customers: 03300945800
Prepayment energy customers: 03300945802
Broadband customers: 03300945801
For energy customers, support available includes:
- Offering discretionary credit up to £50, for prepayment customers who cannot afford to top up their meter.
- Introducing payment plans for prepayment customers. Based on the customers circumstances, debt recovery may be paused for up to three months, as well as offering short term payment holidays to customers.
- Sending engineers to assist customers who cannot access a paypoint outlet to top up their pre-pay meter.
- Similarly, for credit customers in difficulty, Shell Energy may be able to reduce their monthly Direct Debit amount and spread payment over a longer period, or offer payment holidays.
- Allowing those who notify Shell Energy to be excluded from a Direct Debit reassessment, for a period of up to 90 days, if the reassessment has not taken place already.
For broadband customers, support available includes:
- Providing payment plans as required, including; a possible payment holiday of up to 90 days or ad-hoc payments being accepted on a case by case basis.
- Waiving standard contract termination charges for customers forced to move out of their rental property due to COVID-19, provided their account is not in debt.
We’re here to support you. If you’ve been affected by COVID-19, and need to discuss your situation with us, please get in touch with us. If you have any questions, you can also visit our FAQs section for more information on your options.