People could be more at risk of making hazardous choices about how they heat and light their home this winter as energy costs rise, an insurer is warning.
Fires caused by candles can leave homeowners facing average repair bills of £18,000, the insurer said.
Claims that were dealt with by Zurich last year included a £140,000 blaze from a candle that was left unattended.
In another recent incident, a Zurich customer escaped unharmed when her duvet caught fire on an electric heater, causing £200,000 of damage.
Paul Redington, a property claims expert at Zurich UK, said: “The energy crisis is forcing people to make tough – and potentially more hazardous – choices over how they heat and light their home.”
He added: “Accidental blazes could climb higher this winter as households use candles to keep energy bills down or cope with potential blackouts.
“Whether people are using candles out of choice or necessity, we want to ensure they are aware of the potential dangers and keep themselves safe.
“Candles can burn out of control in seconds with devastating consequences.
“Homeowners should always keep candles in secure holders, blow them out before leaving a room and ensure naked flames are well away from soft furnishings such as curtains and duvets.”
The energy price guarantee limits the unit cost of electricity and gas so a typical household in Britain will pay an average of around £2,500 a year on their energy bill.
The guarantee is not an overall bill cap so some households could pay more, possibly depending on factors such as how well insulated their home is, how big it is and how many people live there.
Under the energy bills support scheme, households are receiving a £400 non-repayable discount.
The UK Government is planning for blackouts but said they are extremely unlikely.
According to Zurich’s study, women are more likely than men to switch off the lights in favour of candles this winter.
The cities where people were particularly likely to say they would light candles were Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Sheffield.
Zurich also found that some people would use an open fire to heat a room this winter.
Mr Redington added: “With energy costs threatening to overwhelm household budgets, some people might shut off their central heating and use log fires or portable heaters to warm a single room in their home.
“If people do use these appliances, check they are in good condition and position them away from combustible items. If lighting an open fire, ensure the chimney has been properly swept and is protected by a fireguard.”
Research by Opinium among 2,000 people across the UK was carried out for Zurich in September.
Here are some safety tips from Zurich for dealing with candles:
1. Never leave lit candles unattended and always put them out when you leave the room – even for a moment.
2. Place candles carefully on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children.
3. Keep candles away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
4. Do not move candles once they are lit and do not leave them near open windows.
5. Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare.
6. Put candles out with a spoon – sparks can fly if you blow them out.
7. Fit a smoke alarm and test it now and weekly.
8. If there is a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.