Gas and electricity Updated:
While many people are worrying about being able to cover the cost of Christmas this year, it seems that some of those in the older age group have a far more basic concern on their minds – being able to heat their homes.
Research from Saga has found that many over-50s surveyed are taking "desperate measures" in order to meet the cost of heating their homes this winter: over half are worried about the cost of energy, with 19% saying that they'll genuinely struggle to pay their bills, and 9% saying that they'll have to go to bed earlier and get up later to avoid putting the heating on.
Other measures to ensure they can afford to keep warm in winter include wearing extra clothing (61%), only put the heating on at certain times of the day to economise (60%), and not heating as many rooms (30%), but this means that for one in eight respondents, parts of their home will become no-go areas when the chill truly sets in. Some are going even more extreme than that, with one in 10 only putting their heating on as a last resort.
The fear of heating their homes – not to mention the extreme measures that some will go to in order to cut costs – comes despite the fact that energy prices have remained relatively stable over the last year, but with bills already being difficult to cope with, it'll come as little consolation to many.
"Keeping warm in winter is not a luxury – it's essential for many to keep fit and well over the winter months," said Lisa Harris, head of communications for Saga. "People shouldn't be afraid of putting the heating on, but one in 10 admit that they would only put their heating on as a last resort. However, there are often lots of relatively simple measures that people can take to help keep control of their energy bills."
These include things like thoroughly draft-proofing your home, putting your heating on a timer, making sure your insulation is up to scratch, and switching lights and appliances off when not in use, but one of the best things you can do is make sure you're on the cheapest tariff possible. If not, it's time to switch (compare the options using our search tool), and hopefully you won't be too concerned about the cost of heating this winter.
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