• 46% of OAPs concerned that a cold winter will increase their energy bills 
  • Over half worry about being able to pay energy bills through income or pension alone
  • Over 60% likely to ration their energy consumption during the winter 

Unusually high energy bills during the colder winter months are a serious concern for the elderly according to comparethemarket.com. The survey of 2000 over 65 year olds found that nearly half (46%) were concerned that the current cold weather would lead to higher than usual energy costs. 61% admitted they cut down their home energy usage during the winter, with almost a third (31%) claiming to ration household energy consumption every year. 

Despite a December which was milder than usual, the cold weather set to descend on the UK this weekend raises further concerns for the elderly over how to stay warm in winter. Nearly half of respondents (44%) think they will have to ration their energy consumption in the coming months.

As the temperature drops, there is particular concern over how OAPs will absorb the cost if chillier weather causes energy bills to rise. Over half of those aged 65 or older (54%) were concerned that they would not be able to pay their bills from their income or pension alone. Over a fifth (22%) conceded that they would dip into their savings or use credit and 42% said they would consider cutting down on expenditures, such as food, to cover the cost of a colder winter.

Although they were in a minority, a proportion of respondents admitted that their health suffers because they limit the amount of heating they use during the winter and some respondents said that they don’t invite friends and family to their homes because they don’t want them to know how cold it is. When it comes to saving on energy bills, the majority said they relied on thick curtains, draft excluders or wearing extra layers such as jumpers or jackets to stay warm, rather than turning on the central heating. 

James Padmore, Head of Energy Insurance at comparethemarket.com, said:

“When it comes to staying warm in winter, nobody should be left out in the cold. It is deeply concerning that, when the temperature drops, so many of the elderly generation are rationing their fuel usage to save money, at the expense of keeping warm.

“There are other ways to reduce energy bills apart from turning off the central heating. As the wholesale cost of energy has decreased, many fixed tariffs have also fallen. However the cheapest tariffs available often require people to change energy supplier, something that the elderly in particular still seem reluctant to do.  Our research shows that 65 to 79 year olds who switched energy provider saved on average £530, but this age group makes up only 9% of switchers. Those who are less comfortable online may not be aware that they can switch to a cheaper supplier by phone or post – these savings could not only reduce the cost of energy in winter but all year round.”

Note to editors

2011 census: The population of the UK aged 65 and over was 10.4 million


Unless otherwise indicated, all data is sourced from comparethemarket.com.

About the Institute of Inertia

The Institute of Inertia, a partnership between comparethemarket.com and the University of Sheffield, launched in 2015 and looks at the psychology behind financial inertia to help consumers save wasted time and money.

The Institute of Inertia is a network of experts and academics led by The University of Sheffield’s Dr Thomas Webb, a specialist in consumer behaviour.

A programme of qualitative and quantitative research tranches inform the Institute of Inertia to help shape and test potential solutions to drive behavioural change.  

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