UK utility apologizes for advice to cuddle pets to stay warm

A visitor pets a cat at the Persian Cat Museum in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Founded in an old house in 2020, the museum started out as a dual-purpose cafe and cat exhibition. The breeds showcased include a wide range of domestic short-haired, domestic long-haired, Persian, Scottish, British, Siamese and the Russian Blue, all of them donated or rescued street cats and kittens who go through regular veterinary inspection and vaccinations. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

LONDON — One of Britain’s largest energy suppliers has apologized for advising customers to cuddle with pets or challenge children to hula hoop competitions to keep warm without turning up the heat as gas and electricity bills soar this winter.

The suggestions from Ovo Energy were in a list sent to customers of 10 cost-effective ways to save on heating bills, the Financial Times reported. The list triggered outrage from politicians and households whose incomes are being squeezed by rising energy prices, which are fueling record inflation across Europe and being driven up by scarce natural gas supplies.

Lawmaker Darren Jones, a Labour Party lawmaker on the House of Commons Business Select Committee, called Ovo’s tips “offensive.”

“I’m not sure who signed off a marketing campaign telling people to wear a jumper and eat porridge instead of turning on the heating if you can’t afford it,” he said on Twitter.

Ovo has since apologized.

“We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year,” the company told the FT. “We are working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis, and we recognize that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful. We are embarrassed and sincerely apologize.”