•1 in 5 (20%) elderly don’t heat their homes even when cold due to anxiety over escalating bills
•Over a third (34%) of the nation aged 65 and over admit to rationing their heating
•4% have had to sacrifice their normal eating habits to afford heating
Despite very real worries about energy prices, a report commissioned by Comparethemarket.com shows that many of our elderly parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours conceal their fears and suffer in silence. 1 in 4 over 65s keep their energy bill worries from friends and families.
Each year we're faced with shocking mortality figures of elderly people who've fallen prey to the cold. With the health dangers that cold weather conditions can cause some of the most vulnerable members of our society, it's time to address it.
The study found that the elderly’s energy woes are being concealed from their nearest and dearest despite 12% admitting that they worry about getting ill this winter as a result of not using heating when cold. Over 1 in 4 (25%) hide their conservative use of energy from family members, while distressingly 8% also admitted that they tend to only heat their homes when expecting guests.
Many are taking to wearing coats indoors, wearing extra clothes at night and trying all sorts of methods to keep their homes warm.
Talking to my own family, some of the tricks they've admitted to using to try and keep their heating bills down are:
Using hot water bottles at night
Using draft excluders
Wearing extra jumpers
Putting the light on the fire, without switching the heating on to create an 'impression' of warmth
Turning radiators off in rooms they don't use
However, despite their worries, many elderly people haven't or don't know how to switch energy suppliers and shop around for the cheapest deal. Either they are not internet savvy, or they worry about the process of switching and 22% of the elderly report they have never changed energy providers. Many fear that by switching they may lose their heating altogether.
This weekend comparethemarket.com is encouraging the nation to get involved in the Great British Switch. Can you spare half an hour to pop round to a neighbour or relative and show them how it's done? It's a really simple process, we've changed suppliers lots of times, the last time saving £70 per quarter. Other than passing on your meter readings, pretty much everything is done for you and it was a smooth, painless transition. Sometimes people just need some reassurance and a helping hand to make the switch.
Doesn't it seem criminal that older people are going cold and hungry, when they could be saving hundred of pounds with a cheaper supplier?
For every switch through our energy price comparison service this weekend, comparethemarket.com will also donate £5 to Friends of the Elderly to help keep those most vulnerable warm this winter.
Steve Allen, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly said: “Many older people have difficulty staying warm and well in the winter. As well as struggling to cope with escalating heating and fuel allowance costs, an alarming number also have no one to talk to about their concerns about staying well at this time of year. We hope the Great British Switch will not only help people save money and stay warm, but also encourage people to look out for older neighbours, friends and relatives over the winter period and all year round.”
People can take part in the Great British Switch this weekend on 14-16 November to see if they can save money on their energy, and for every switch this weekend, comparethemarket.com will donate £5 to Friends of the Elderly to help keep those most vulnerable warm this winter. Every penny of this donation will go towards providing grants for older people living in poverty, to help them insulate their homes, afford their bills and, keep those most vulnerable warm this winter.
Mummy Barrow helps her granny switch suppliers