One in five householders in the UK owe money to energy suppliers, according to new research.
A poll of around 2,000 people found consumers need to repay power companies an estimated £624 million, with individual debts standing at an average of £126.
This is 4.5 per cent lower than in 2010 (£132) but 10.5 per cent higher than the average total owned in 2008 (£114).
It comes after a cold winter and amid rising wholesale gas costs, which energy suppliers say is behind their energy price hikes.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at the research website, commented: "Energy debt can be a catch-22. Despite knowing they could reduce their bills by moving to a cheaper energy plan, consumers can see debt as a barrier to switching."
Householders who are worried about the cost of their utility bills could switch gas deal or look for cheap electricity tariffs online.
If you want to find out more about your energy options and how you could save up to £468 in minutes, click here.
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