The areas worst hit by energy bill price hikes – do you live in one of them?

HOUSEHOLDS in some areas of the country are spending up to 66% more of their budget on heating than those who live in London.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that those living in Northern Ireland and Scotland are forking out considerably more of their money on energy.

The ONS has looked at the proportion of weekly household budgets spent on energy in various parts of the country compared with those living in London, Mail Online reports.

It found that households in Northern Ireland are spending 50% more of their weekly budget on gas and electricity than people in the capital.

That compares with just 10% more for those living in the surrounding areas of London, including East Anglia and Kent.

Households in Scotland, Wales and parts of Northern England are spending an average of 40% to 50% more of their budget on energy bills than Londoners.

While those in the South West of England spend between 10% and 20% more of their money on gas and electricity.

Latest ONS figures show the average weekly earnings of a full-time worker in Northern Ireland is £584, compared to £889 for someone in London.

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As well as having lower average earnings, some of the regions which spend most of their budget on energy are also typically colder, meaning they are forced to ramp up the radiator more.

The stark divide comes as energy bills have soared and are set to continue rising in 2022.

Some experts are expecting the average household bill to top £2,000 this year.

The energy crisis has left some families having to choose between heating and eating this winter.

It has also led to the collapse of 26 energy suppliers in recent months.

Some in the industry have branded the situation a "national crisis" and called on the government to step in.

Households are likely to see their bills increase further when the energy price cap goes up in April.

Consumers will find out in February how much the price cap will increase too – and it's expected to be hundreds of pounds.

The price hikes are particularly devastating for low income households, who have to spend a much higher proportion of their earnings on energy.

Do you qualify for help with your energy bills?

For those who are struggling to keep up with rising bills there may be help available.

You could get £25 a week in cold weather payments if temperature plummet below zero in your postcode for seven days in a row.

You can check if the payment applies to you using the government's postcode checker any time between now and the spring.

Some pensioners may be eligible for one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.

And you could get a one-off £140 payment through the warm home discount to help with the cost of your electricity bill through winter.

You'll need to check if your energy firm participates in the scheme and apply to them directly.

Through the

Household Support Fund, councils can use cash in a number of ways to help people cover the cost of heating their home.

In some cases councils are offering as much as £60 in a payment to help cover gas and food too.

You can ask your local authority directly what help is available as it depends where you live.

If you're not eligible for extra help, there are some simple things you can do to keep your bills down.

Even turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save you up to £100 over the course of the year.

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