Compare the Market - Energy Anxiety

1.3 million elderly people struggling to afford their energy bill this winter

• 43% of elderly people are worried that cold weather will lead to higher energy costs, but over one in ten (11%) fear they won’t be able to afford an increase in their bills

• Over a third (38%) are set to ration their energy use this winter due to the rising cost of energy

• 2 million OAPs stuck on uncompetitive and expensive Standard Variable Tariffs

• Over half (56%) don’t think the energy price cap will help reduce their bills

18 January 2018 – Falling temperatures are placing significant financial and health related stress onto OAPs. While more than two fifths (43%) of over 65-year olds are worried that cold weather this winter will lead to higher energy costs, over one in ten (11%) don’t feel they are in a position to afford an increase in their energy bills – equating to 1.3 million people nationwide.

Over a third (38%) of elderly people are set to ration their energy use this winter due to the rising cost, according to a survey of 2,000 respondents aged over 65 by comparethemarket.com. Their decision to limit their energy use comes despite the fact that a staggering 88% believe that the cost of energy presents a real health threat to older people living in the UK.

If their energy costs increase this winter, nearly half (48%) of over 65s said they would have to dip into their savings or use credit, while over a third (37%) believe they would need to cut down on expenditure in order to make ends meet. More concerningly, over one in ten (12%) say their health suffers because they limit the amount of heating they use and a fifth (20%) eat less or buy cheaper food to offset the cost of energy bills.

Recent comparethemarket.com research found that the average energy bill has risen by over £240 to £1,625 in 2017, an increase of 14% on last year, but those on standard variable rate tariffs may be paying even more. comparethemarket.com found that nearly a fifth (17%) of over 65s are on these default tariffs, equating to 2 million OAPs across the country.

Despite various government and regulator initiatives to tackle the rising cost of energy, over half of respondents (56%) believe that the proposed price cap would not do anything to reduce their energy bills and over a third (36%) did not even realise the government planned to introduce the cap.

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Peter Earl

Head of Energy

comparethemarket.com

“The rising cost of energy is a real concern for older people, especially at a time when household bills are already sky high. 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. The government’s proposed price cap is not going to help them this winter and is unlikely to provide a silver bullet solution to the problem of soaring prices.

One of the problems is that energy bills are too complex. Our research shows that over one in five people (22%) in the UK don’t understand their bills. That’s why we have launched a Simple Bills Petition with John Penrose MP, calling on the industry to provide simpler bills to help UK households, including the elderly, stay on top of their finances.

This winter, the best thing for people to do to keep their energy costs as low as possible is to make sure they are not on a standard variable tariff, which tend to be far more expensive than fixed tariff deals. The best tariffs are likely to be offered by suppliers other than the one you’re currently with, so it pays to shop around and see if you can get a better deal. Our latest energy insight found that over 65-year olds saved an average of £200 on their energy bills in December by switching provider – the highest of any age group – so the opportunities to save money are there for those willing to spend just a few minutes making it happen.”

To see how the high cost of energy is affecting elderly people near you, visit comparethemarket.com’s energy heat map and sign up to the Simple Bills Petition here.