Many households are falling behind on energy payments with total debt owed three times higher than in September last year, a survey has suggested.
Almost a quarter of households (six million) owe £206 on average
"Every day we hear from people who can't afford to turn the lights on or cook their kids a hot meal," said Morgan Wild, head of policy for Citizens Advice.
Eight million households have no credit balances, meaning they have no cushion against the bill rises this winter.
"This is an alarming situation, as summer is traditionally a time when households are using less power for heating, which helps bill payers to build up energy credit ahead of the winter," said Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com. "It suggests the cost-of-living crisis is already squeezing budgets dramatically, even during the summer months, as families struggle with rising bills in all areas," she said.