The UK is a very wealthy country, but people are having difficulties paying energy bills. Electricity and gas bills could rise fourfold this year. Even people on good salaries are feeling the pinch. Lower-paid workers and retirees may be faced with a stark choice of heating or eating. Many towns have a temporary solution. They are converting libraries into spaces where people can stay warm for free. These are called "heat banks". A UK money-saving expert is dumbfounded by the idea of warm banks in his country. The UK already has hundreds of food banks.
Britons are taking drastic measures to avoid rising energy costs. One woman has turned off her fridge and is keeping her food in cold water. A man switched off his electric kettle and is drinking water instead of hot drinks. Last winter, a lady used her free bus pass to sit on a warm bus all day instead of sitting at home in the cold. People are angry with oil companies who are making record profits. The government is reluctant to introduce a one-off tax on these companies. Each year in the UK, around 11,400 deaths are caused by cold weather. This figure will rise further this year.