07 November, 2006

npower's Edwina Currie moment.

npower has an image problem. The energy company's response to criticisms that repeated price rises are making life very difficult for low income families is: send the children to bed in a hat clutching a microwaved cloth instead of a teddy bear. Most of the advice, based on "academic research" is just commonsense; inoffensive in itself but for an energy company attempt to justify its profiteering, through offering it as money saving advice to hard-pressed parents, is an insult. As the Daily Telegraph observes, npower's

guidance to parents is reminiscent of former junior Tory health minister Edwina Currie, who caused a furore when she suggested that freezing pensioners threatened by hypothermia because they could not afford heating should "wrap up warm" in woolly hats and long johns.
Currie's credibility never recovered. The arrogant idiocy at length:

Keep kids as snug as a bug:
• Get children to wear socks and a hat in bed during the coldest nights
• Tuck them into a sleeping bag
• Take a hot water bottle or microwavable rice cloth bag to bed
• Cover their bedclothes with a blanket (but take care with infants – blanket should be to shoulder only)
• Check the room temperature – it should be 18 degrees in the bedroom (use a wall thermometer to check) and 21 degrees in the rest of the house so you might need to play around with the thermostat or radiators if you have them

Fill kids with fuel:
• Everyone should make time for breakfast, preferably with a warm drink
• Eating regularly will help keep up energy levels and retain body heat

Keep them moving:
• Children should avoid prolonged periods of watching TV – try and keep the family active in the evenings and at weekends
• Encourage them to participate in indoor sports such as badminton or table tennis by joining a local council-run sports centre or youth group
• Use indoor areas such as shopping centres for exercise – walk briskly between shops and step up the escalators instead of standing, or using the lift
• If children are spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure they come inside occasionally to warm up

Wrap up warm:
• Dress children in layers (as a guide, an infant or toddler should wear one more layer than is comfortable for an adult)
• Make sure children do dress for winter when they’re leaving the house - a hat, coat and scarf should be part of their wardrobe
• Make sure they change out of wet clothes as soon as they can to avoid getting a chill

npower offers a range of options to families concerned about winter energy bills:

A range of options? Here is another option for npower customers: change your electricity supplier. It is very easy. All it takes is just one free telephone call to the new company of your choice .

It is far too early in the morning to start on some of nonsense that passes for academic research these days.

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