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Over 65s hit with high energy bills due to their inefficient homes, research finds | Personal Finance | Finance


Mature couple stressed over bills

Many over 65s are having to pay £611 more than younger generations due to inefficient homes (Image: Getty Images)

The over-65s are being hit harder by record energy prices than younger generations because of their inefficient homes.

A report has found 62 percent of over 65s – as many as 7.75m – live in inefficient properties (EPC ‘D’ or below), compared to 48 percent of under 30s.

The energy inefficiency of their homes is leading over 65s to pay £611 more per year on average for their energy bills compared to under 30s, based on the Government’s current Energy Price Guarantee level of £2,500.

This would rise to £713 per year if the Government goes ahead with its planned increase in the Energy Price Guarantee to £3,000 from April.

Ofgem regulate the prices energy businesses are able to charge consumers for each kilowatt hour (kWh) they use, with the government subsiding the cost for households via the Guarantee – this limits the maximum energy price, but not the maximum bill for consumers.

Over 65s are more likely to pay higher bills due to living in older properties than younger generations, which are usually less energy efficient than newer builds.

They are also more likely to live in detached houses, which can be less energy efficient than flats or terraced houses.

The findings were revealed in new research by Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, in partnership with economics consultancy Cebr, the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Additional polling of 3,000 adults found one in 10 pensioners plan to downsize in the next two years, with 49 percent of these citing energy bills as a reason for their decision.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 34 percent of 18-24 year olds say they would consider moving in with family or friends due to rising energy bills, 45 percent of them back in with parents.

Three quarters (77 percent) of those of all ages who moved in with friends or family in the past year said rising energy bills factored into their decision.

One in 10 pensioners are looking to find new homes

One in 10 pensioners are looking to find an efficient home to save on energy bills (Image: Getty Images)

Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher CEO, said: “UK homes are among the least energy-efficient in Europe and that is making energy bills even more expensive for too many households when prices are already at record highs.

“Our research found that it is older generations who are most likely to live in inefficient homes, meaning some of the most vulnerable people in society are the most exposed to higher costs.”

The research also found 81 percent of Brits say they are worried about the rise in the energy price guarantee from April.

And 64 percent of those polled via OnePoll say the energy efficiency of homes would now be more of a priority when moving home than 12 months ago.

Just over half (54 percent) plan to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes in the coming year, with the most popular measures being energy efficient lighting, smart meters and draught proofing.

Despite being more likely to live in inefficient homes, pensioners are the least likely to be planning improvements, with just 35 percent looking to do so in the 12 months.

Thierry Garnier, of Kingfisher, added: “While prices are expected to fall slightly in the summer, that is not a reason to delay taking action to improve energy efficiency.

“In the short term, we’d like to see a concerted Government drive ahead of next winter to support the public to insulate the over 5 million lofts in the UK that are uninsulated and easy to access, as well as a cut in VAT to zero on all efficiency products.

“In the longer term, more grants are needed to fund improvements for those on lower incomes, alongside investment in building the skills base we need to install efficiency measures at scale, otherwise the UK will continue to lag behind on energy efficiency.”

Two girls on a sofa, one led over the other's legs

Emmeline and Airly photographed in their home where they live with Airly’s mum and partner (Image: Joseph Walshe © SWNS)

Case study 1:

23-year-old Emmeline Johnson works two jobs, acting as a nursery assistant and also in a high-street clothing store.

Since graduating University in 2022, she has moved in with her partner Airlie Delyse’s family in Oxfordshire, after realising they could not afford a place of their own without having to devote every penny to the bills.

Emmeline said: “I’ve had a job since I was 15, and had multiple jobs throughout University, anything to make sure I had some foundations in place so I could stay near to London when finishing university.

“But after graduating, prices rose and everyone started to find their own feet, people got into relationships, some from different financial backgrounds were able to have a jumpstart into having their own place together.

“But after exploring lots of different options including potentially living in Reading – which I soon realised I also couldn’t afford – Airlie’s family were lovely enough to offer to take us both in.”

Despite this degree of good fortune, Emmeline and Airlie know it’s going to be a long time until they get their own space, with both working zero-hours jobs.

Emmeline’s partner Airlie said: “Even if we got our own house we’d have really struggled with the energy prices rising – energy bills at the moment feel like half a month’s rent on top of your actual rent.

“When we lived together at Uni I managed the energy bills, it seemed like every month I’d ask the girls we lived with for more money.”

Emmeline said: “I definitely think younger people struggle more with not being able to deal with energy prices – you leave education and that’s it. There’s no support system to help you.

“We have friends who are having to go on benefits programmes, fresh graduates are on a lower income and taking lower paid jobs to make ends meet to pay these extortionate bills.”

Airlie added: “While we are lucky to have support from my family, I have so much sympathy for people who struggle with energy use – recently an older person came into my work and wanted meals that only go in the microwave, so she wouldn’t have to use her oven.

“There are two sides of the same coin – young people are trying earn money, and older people are struggling with pensions, neither can afford these bills and I have a great amount of sympathy for anyone who is having these kind of worries about energy.”

Elderly man sat on a chair, holding a cup

Rory McCallum is planning to move into his sons home as the cost of living crisis affects him (Image: Joseph Walshe © SWNS)

Case study 2:

Pensioner Rory McCallum, 75, felt living expenses were getting on top of him and jumped at the chance to move in with younger family.

He said: “I had a two-bedroom house in Brighton but it was getting a little too much for me on my own, and I now live in Chesham.

“Around September of last year, my son and his partner were looking for someone to move in with them.

“When my son offered I was struggling – one person paying bills, council tax, parking and all the rest of it is quite a lot, and I was often away anyway.

“The energy bills now are extortionate, as we know they’ve got worse and worse and I was a little scared. I only have a state pension, and I didn’t want to keep working too much.

“I was playing Father Christmas last year and I thought ‘Oh god am I still having to work at the age of 75′?”

Rory admits he’s in a lucky position, but also says it’s not the way he considered his life going when he was younger.

He added: “I never thought this would happen. I did think about downsizing into a one-bedroom flat but I didn’t want to pay so many bills.

“As I’m getting older it seemed such a good idea, and not only am I helping them and covering the family’s food budget, I’m able to give some of the money from selling the house away. It’s a win-win.”

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