The energy bill can be a nightmare for anybody, but it can affect older people even more. We’ve seen too many examples in the news where older people are being forced to choose between keeping warm and eating, due to the rising cost of energy bills.
In fact, new research released this winter revealed that more than a million older people feared that they would not be able to pay their energy bills during the cold months. The average energy bill increased by more than £240 in 2017, to £1625.
In the study, reported on The independent, almost two-fifths of the 2,031 people aged over 65 involved said they would ration their energy usage over the winter because of increasing costs. Other statistics taken from the new research include:
- 88% said that they believe the cost of energy presents a real health threat to older people living in the UK.
- 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% did not even know about this plan.
- Nearly half of over-65s said they would have to dip into their savings or use credit if energy companies increase prices.
- 37% believed that would need to cut down on expenditure in order to make ends meet.
Fortunately, there are ways in-which you can cut down on your energy bills and we have 10 examples for you today. For an overall look at your finances, have a read of our top 10 finance tips post.
1. Switch Supplier
One of the easiest ways of saving money on your energy bill is by comparing suppliers online. No matter the supplier you choose it is the same gas and electricity, delivered through the same pipes and cables. The only difference is the customer service and the price!
The Money Saving Expert website run the ‘Cheap Energy Club’ scheme which claims to find you the cheapest deal. They also go one step further than most comparison sites as they will also do background checks each month to make sure that you’re still on the most affordable tariff. According to the website:
The difference between standard tariffs and the cheapest can be as much as £300. So that’s £300 in savings, year after year after year.”
Usually, there is a discount if you pay for your bills via a monthly direct debit. Paying by direct debit also ensures that you know exactly what you are paying every month.
2. Turn down the Thermostat
Reducing your room temperature by 1ºC can reduce bills annually by around £85. Of course, you need to put your health first and avoid becoming too cold in winter, but take a second to think whether or not putting on a jumper could do the job instead.
Modern ‘Smart Thermostats’ allow you to remotely change the temperature of your home through your smart phone or computer. These devices allow you to see exactly how much heating you’re using and to change the temperature even if you’re not at home.
Alongside managing your thermostat, you should also remember to turn down the radiators in rooms that you don’t use that often. There isn’t much point in heating up the third bedroom if you’re never in there.
3. Insulate your Home
Insulating your loft and cavity walls could save you hundreds of pounds each year on your energy bill. In fact, loft insulation alone can save you around £175 per year. Having insulation in your loft prevents heat from escaping through your roof – therefore keeping your home nice and toasty. Cavity wall insulation works in the same way, preventing heat from escaping through the walls of your home.
The recommended thickness for loft insulation is 270mm and typically costs around £20 for a 100mm roll designed to cover 8.3m². Some energy providers also offer free insulation, so it’s worth getting in touch with your supplier.
4. Replace your Light Bulbs
Did you know that replacing an old light bulb with a new, energy-saving one could save you up to £180 during its lifetime? In fact, a new LED light bulb costs around £1.71 to run per year according to the Which website.
Overall it is said that you can save around £35 each year by switching to LED light bulbs. Energy-saving light bulbs not only save you money on your bills, they also last anywhere between three and 25 times longer than your traditional bulbs.
5. Turn those Lights out!
Speaking of light bulbs, even if you have switched to energy-saving ones you should still remember to turn your lights off when you leave a room. Lighting accounts for around 15% of a typical household’s electricity bill.
You only need to have the lights on in the room where you’re spending your time. Turning off the lights when they’re not needed could save you around £14 each year.
6. Know your Rights
Older people can receive benefits to help them pay for their energy bill during the cold winter months. The Winter Fuel Payment allows people to receive between £100 and £300 of tax-free money to pay for their heating bill.
You will automatically receive this payment if you receive State Pension or other social security benefits such as Housing Benefits, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit. Most payments are made between November and December and you are usually guaranteed to receive the money before Christmas.
People over the age of 65 are also eligible for ‘Cold Weather Cash’ if the temperatures fall to 0°C or below for seven consecutive days in their area. If this happens, you are entitled to £25 from the Government. The only criteria is that you claim any other income-related benefits, such as Income Support, Universal Credit or Pension Credit. This scheme runs between November 1 and March 31 every year and you will receive the money each seven-day period which records the required average temperature.
7. Remember the Little Things
We’re all guilty of being a bit wasteful with heat and electricity at home. It may not seem like it, but everything adds up and if you were a little more careful you would be able to see the difference on your energy bill. Going forward, try to remember to:
- Turn the TV and TV Box off at the socket when you’re not using them.
- Unplug your phone charger when it’s not being used.
- Unplug kitchen appliances such as the toaster and microwave – these are also fire hazards.
- Close doors when you go into / out of a room.
- Wash your pots by filling the sink, instead of a running tap.
- Always make sure you have a full load of washing.
- Wash clothes at 30°C, this uses around 40% less electricity over a year.
- Defrost your freezer every six months – This allows the optimal transfer of heat in and out of it.
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