With temperatures in the UK expected to plummet to as low as -5ºC this week and snow forecast in places across the country, I was interested to see a new piece of research that has come out from Swedish heat pump company Aira.

It carried out a survey of 8,000 consumers in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France and found that three out of five people have considered or already decided to turn down their heating this month. Five percent of those surveyed said they would turn off their central heating altogether while the majority of those questioned said they would do so even though they expected to have to deal with cold or flu this winter.

The majority of people in the Aira survey (73%) said high energy prices were the main reason for cutting back on heating while 38% said that general finance concerns were the culprit. The problem for cash-strapped households will be exacerbated this winter because of the end of the government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme last March which gave householders £400 towards their elevated energy bills. Energy prices have come down since, but many people will still be feeling the pain with the cost-of-living crisis still affecting British families.

Despite the financial pain, turning down the heating carries risks. Without wishing to cross into the realm of scaremongering, research from the UK’s Office for National Statistics shows that when the mercury falls to below minus five degrees Celsius, the number of excess deaths rises by 75%. Turning off the heating also risks causing problems with the plumbing, which can have expensive consequences. If keeping the house cold – some in the Aira survey said they would let it get as cold as 14ºC in their home before turning the heating on – is not the answer, then perhaps getting smarter about energy usage could be.

Procode prides itself on developing innovative technology that brings energy usage out of the dark ages. This technology is at the forefront of saving consumers money on their bills while also helping Britain meet its net zero commitments.

Meanwhile, Procode’s Smart Datastream technology enables organisations and consumers outside of the energy sector the ability to take back control of their energy data by providing access to the pipeline of valuable information that flows from Britain’s network of more than 30 million smart meters. This level of insight is vital for customers to understand their energy consumption and where they could turn down or reduce usage, rather than shutting off the heating. It also enables energy suppliers to be able to offer new time of use tariffs and to help their customers manage their bills and consumption. This is a quantum leap from the pre-smart days when using Economy 7 plans at night was the only option to cut bills, a meter that was not even available for many households.

Smart technology is also vital to help government, charities and suppliers understand what consumers are doing in response to chillier temperatures. A solution like Smart Datastream can give invaluable insights into where consumers are disconnecting, who is at the highest risk and where energy saving schemes can best be targeted.

Everyone wants to be smarter with energy usage - householders, governments, charities and those who care about the environment - but it is not an option open to some families where the cost-of-living crisis has hit hardest.

Another interesting snippet from the Aira survey is that one in six said they would wear outdoor clothes like hats and coats to keep warm. I know many a family where anyone daring to touch the thermostat is chided by Mum or Dad with a call to put on a jumper. Being smart comes in many different ways. However, whilst layers are a good place to start, vulnerable parties being able to afford to heat their homes is vital.