Energy tips to help the elderly through the winter months

Energy tips to help the elderly through the winter months

17 December 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

The elderly suffer more than most during the colder months, so Confused.com has issued some energy advice about how they can keep warm and stave off another winter.

Confused.com is reacting to figures from the Office of National Statistics, which show that an estimated 36,700 people died last winter as a result of not keeping warm enough, up by almost 50 per cent on the previous winter, and the group most affected was those aged 85 or older.

Commenting, Gareth Kloet, head of utilities at Confused.com said: "I am shocked and saddened to see such a terribly high number of elderly Britons dying from the cold. Whilst there is a huge amount of pressure on energy providers to reduce the cost of energy, it's unlikely that prices are going to fall before the cold weather sets in, if at all."

But, he said, "There are nevertheless already measures in place to help the elderly keep warmer this winter and it's vital to take advantage of them."  

For instance, the elderly can join up to the Priority Services Register, or their suppliers' equivalent, which is designed to ensure that the vulnerable are identified and assisted, for example in cases of interruption to energy supplies.

They could take advantage of free loft and cavity wall insulation, available free of charge to any household with a resident aged 70 or older, which can reduce energy loss and keep them warmer for less.

Those who fall under the scope of the fuel poverty scheme – who spend at least 10 per cent of their income on energy bills – can get help from their energy provider in the form of a tariff which is equivalent to the firm's cheapest deal.

Setting up a direct debit can help to reduce energy bills by 10 per cent or more, and can help to spread the cost of household energy over the year.

Ultimately, Confused.com reminds consumers that energy companies have a responsibility to their customers, and anyone struggling to pay their energy bills should contact their provider to see if they can move to a cheaper tariff, or get some other kind of help which might be available.

"Pensioners should never put themselves at risk of the cold weather, as help is available if it is sought," the comparison website stressed.

Those aged 60 or over might also be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment from the Government to help keep warm in winter. This can be between £125 and £400 depending on the individual's situation.

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