Energy suppliers and regulators need to do more to help those living in fuel poverty deal with rising bills, a report has said.
Thousands of people contacted Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) in the 2011/12 financial year for help making energy bill payments.
The body is now calling on companies to fix pre-payment meters at the cheapest tariffs, take into account the latest welfare changes that affect customers who rely on benefits and notify customers of arrears as early as possible to establish a repayment plan.
CAS policy officer Sarah Beattie-Smith said: "The evidence from Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland clearly shows that the high cost of energy is causing huge problems for people across the country.
"CAS advisers see people every day who are forced to choose between heating and eating. We know that difficulty paying for energy can make other problems worse, pushing people into debt, worsening existing health conditions and adding to the stresses and strains of everyday life at a particularly difficult economic time.
"CAS will now be contacting the energy companies with our findings and will be seeking to discuss the measures they can take to help their customers.
"We recognise that energy companies and governments here in Scotland and at UK level have already taken some very welcome steps to support consumers who have trouble meeting the high costs of energy. However, more can and must be done to help Scots heat their homes this winter and in years to come."
CAS said 7,400 people, most commonly young, single women living in social rented housing, contacted it for help with energy issues last year.
The body said the average annual household energy bill has doubled in eight years to £1,250, and is expected to rise to £1,500 within three years.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is a scandal that there should be any fuel poverty in an energy-rich country like Scotland. This government is tackling fuel poverty head-on, and with the powers of an independent parliament we will be able to do much more."