Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Eat or Heat?

More than a million elderly people fear they won’t be able to afford to pay their energy bills this winter, according to new research. Almost two-fifths of people aged over 65 surveyed said they would ration their energy usage over the winter because of increasing costs88 per cent said that they believe the cost of energy presents a real health threat to older people living in the UK.

A fifth eat less or buy cheaper food to offset the cost of energy bills, and 12 per cent say their health suffers because they limit the amount of heating they use. Nearly half of over-65s said they would have to dip into their savings or use credit if energy companies increase prices, while 37 per cent said they believed they would need to cut down on expenditure in order to make ends meet. 

Around two million over-65s could be stuck on expensive standard variable tariffs, which are often among the most expensive options. The average energy bill rose by more than £240 to £1,625 in 2017 and those on standard variable rate tariffs may be paying even more. One problem is that energy bills are too complex, meaning that millions of customers simply do not understand what they are paying for and why.

More than half said they did not think an energy price cap planned by the Prime Minister will help them reduce their bills. A further 36 per cent did not even know about the measure.

“The rising cost of energy is a real concern for older people, especially at a time when household bills are already sky high,” said Peter Earl, head of energy at Comparethemarket.com.  “Cold weather already presents worrying health problems to the elderly and it is critical they should not be faced with additional costs at a time when they are at their most vulnerable,” he added. 

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