And soaring energy prices mean 29 per cent of the adult population are worried they will have to go without gas or electricity altogether as the temperature plummets.
Almost half (46 per cent) will reduce their heating use rising to 53 per cent for those with children. Four per cent of people are prepared to forgo hot meals to save money on utility bills rising to 13 per cent of those not in full time work.
The problem is even more severe for the most vulnerable such as pensioners and the parents of young children which make up the bulk of the 1.1 million households facing the ‘eat or heat’ dilemma.
Hot showers and baths will be rationed 52 per cent of the elderly and 36 per cent of households with children.
A third (35 per cent) of people will think twice about making a hot drink every single day during winter and a similar number will reduce the number of times they wash clothes each week.
The survey was commissioned by utility company npower, which announced a price rise of 9.8 per cent earlier this year.
The price rise, which breaks down to a 4.8 per cent rise for gas and 15 per cent for electricity, is the single-highest price rise from a big six suppliers since 2013.
Despite the heat or eat dilemma being widespread, 57 per cent of those surveyed said they were unaware of any financial help or advice being offered to those who are in difficulty.
The findings were published to coincide with the launch of a charitable foundation funded by npower which aims to expand the Fuel Bank, an initiative available to foodbank users.
Since 2015, the Fuel Bank has provided immediate support for people in fuel crisis by giving two weeks’ worth of emergency gas and electricity to Foodbank users.
MP Frank Field, who supports the initiative, said: “Since Feeding Birkenhead teamed up with npower, thousands of my constituents on the brink of destitution have been rescued by emergency fuel vouchers.
“npower deserves huge credit for both recognising and acting on our concerns about the wicked choice some of our poorest residents face between heating and eating, and the dire straits facing those who can afford neither food nor fuel.
“I’m really keen for this bulwark against destitution to be extended across the country as quickly as possible, to protect the vulnerable underbelly of our society.”