Families in the North East are hit hardest by utility bills, says a survey.
With the winter months creeping in, an estimated 14% of young home owners are struggling to make ends meet.
An official at Think Money said: “Regionally, problems with utility bills appear most severe in Northern Ireland, London and the North East.”
Research led by Debt Advisory Centre claims the region is top in the country outside London to struggle with bills, out of a staggering 4.5 million.
Spokesman for the DAC Ian Williams claims more people are likely to fall behind in the coming months as a result of more demand and rising energy bills.
“It’s very worrying that such a large number of people are struggling with their bills already. The onset of winter and increases of up to 10% in gas and electricity bills are likely to drag even more people into debt, and make problems worse for those who are already struggling.”
The news comes as Npower announce this week that energy bills are set to rise by 10.4% over the winter.
Families are hardest hit according to Williams, who suggests some are at risk of being cut off if they are behind on their bills.
“For older energy customers and young children, putting on an extra jumper is unlikely to be enough – and many families could face the choice of eating or heating.
“Those who can’t manage to pay could face having their gas and electricity cut off.” Over half of people living in the North East have said they are prepared to cut their energy use over the next five years, while bills are set to rise further with inflation.
Phillip Sellwood, Chief of Energy Saving Trust said: “People in the North East are bamboozled by big debates leading to mixed-messaging on energy issues like rising bills and energy demand.
“Pound for pound, using less energy in the first place is by far and away the most cost-effective thing to do.”
Energy UK Chief Executive Angela Knight said: “It’s very important that anyone who is worried about paying their energy bills this winter seeks help. There is a lot of help out there andenergy companies want to ensure that the people who need it most get assistance.
“Companies are also working to make sure that their customers are on the best tariff for them.”
Recent claims by Ed Miliband stated Labour would freeze rising bills if the party won the next election, although these were shunned by the Prime Minister as nothing more than “a con”.