A MAJOR energy supplier is giving away free electric blankets to customers as gas and electricity bills soar.

The energy price cap increased on Friday, adding almost £700 to the average annual household bill.

Octopus Energy is handing out heated blankets to help customers keep warm while costs are high.

Bills have rocketed due to high wholesale gas prices, with the energy price cap jumping £693 to £1,971 last week.

Millions of households on standard variable tariffs have been affected by the hike.

Campaigners have warned it – and other rising costs such as food and tax – will push millions into poverty.

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Electricity blankets can be a cheaper way of keeping warm instead of using the central heating.

According to Uswitch, it would cost 28p to use an electric blanket for an hour a night – over a week that would cost you £1.96.

The actual amount will vary depending on your tariff, which blanket you use and how long you use it for.

Customers took to social media to praise Octopus' decision, sharing photos of the Bauer heated throw.

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The blankets are currently being sold on Amazon for £40.

"A big thank you for the electric blanket," one customer said on Twitter.

"Being in a power wheelchair 24/7 – I feel the cold more with little room for exercise to warm up, and this useful gift will warm me up."

Another said: "Perfect timing on such a cold day! Thank you so much."

Octopus had 5,000 blankets to give out and said "stocks are very low".

Customers can fill out an online assistance tool to apply for an electric blanket and other help.

They'll be handed out to those in the most financial need, depending on how many Octopus has left.

Octopus' freebie has been well received but other energy suppliers have been slammed for their energy-saving tips.

Ovo was criticised last year for telling struggling customers to do star jumps or cuddle a pet to keep warm.

What help can I get with my energy bills?

If you're struggling with your energy bills, there is help available.

Your first step should be to contact your energy supplier.

They may be able to change your payment plan or check if you're eligible for their hardship fund.

For example, British Gas and Octopus have both set up funds to help customers who are struggling with their bills.

British Gas announced last week that it has added an extra £2million to the pot of cash set aside to help customers.

You should also check that you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to.

Use an online benefits calculator to make sure you're not missing out on any extra cash.

Similarly, you can search for grants that can help you pay for gas and electricity bills.

The government recently announced an extension to the Household Support Fund to help families with the rising cost of living.

Contact your local council to find out what support is available in your area.

Finally, one of the best ways of saving money is to make your home more energy efficient.

Check whether you can reduce your energy use with a simple trick such as putting foil behind your radiator.

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Buying a cheap draught excluder can help trap warm air in your home, reducing the need to put the heating on.

Using energy efficient appliances can shave money off your annual bill, and making sure your home is well insulated will help retain heat.

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