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HEALTHY AGEING

Tips to help pensioners with energy bills by reducing usage

Saving money on energy bills is important at the moment, especially for pensioners on a fixed income.

September 20, 2022

Elderly heating bills

Home energy costs are currently very high, and set to rise further over the coming months. It’s a worry for many people, and those with a fixed income, such as pensioners, may be especially concerned about the bigger bills coming.

Keeping warm and eating well in winter is essential, especially for elderly and vulnerable people, so it’s important that worries about bills don’t stop households from using vital appliances.

In this article, we look at some of the ways in which pensioners might be able to reduce their home energy use in non-essential areas to help keep energy bills as low as possible, without compromising their health and wellbeing, including:

 

Check eligibility for support with energy bills

Before we look at usage, it’s important that all pensioners check whether they’re currently eligible for any support with their energy bills.

Some government support has already been provided, such as the £150 council tax rebate for those living in properties that are under council tax bands A-D. There is also a promised £400 for all households that will be split across six payments to bill payers each month (approx. £66 per month) from October 2022 - March 2023.

Those who receive the annual winter fuel payment (which should be everyone over the age of 66 who is receiving state pension) will get an additional £300 top-up of this to help with the cost of living, in November or December 2022.

For those pensioners who are in receipt of the Guarantee Credit part of pension credit, they will receive a warm home discount (usually applied directly as credit to energy bills) of £150.

Those who were eligible for the government’s £650 Cost of Living Payment (i.e. were in receipt of specific benefits between 26th April and 24th May 2022) will have already received the first instalment of this, with a second to follow this autumn. Unfortunately, even if you were eligible to claim pension credit at the time but did not put in your claim before 18th August 2022, you won’t be eligible for the Cost of Living Payment.

You can also take a look at our tips for pensioners on saving money in lots of different areas of life.

Elderly woman cooking with gas

 

Understand the cost of using specific home appliances and devices

The cost of running various appliances and devices depends on the amount of electricity or gas that they use, in combination with the amount that you currently pay for each unit of gas and electricity - so this can vary a little between different models of appliance and the energy tariff that you are on.

With the current price cap unit cost at the time of writing, a unit of electricity is capped at just over 28p per kWh and was due to rise considerably in the coming months.

However, the Government launched a new Energy Price Guarantee which has capped energy prices on all tariffs, including pre-payment meters, variable and fixed rate tariffs.

For example, it currently means that: 

If you’re on a standard variable tariff, the average unit price for dual fuel customers paying by Direct Debit will be limited to 34.0p/kWh for electricity and 10.3p/kWh for gas, inclusive of VAT, from 1st October.

These unit prices have been passed to suppliers to ensure that they are used to calculate bills on time for 1 October.

Energy suppliers will adjust standard variable tariffs automatically. Customers on standard variable tariffs do not need to take any action to get the benefits of this scheme.”
Source: Gov.uk

The current costs for some of the most common appliances to run for 10 minutes, according to the Centre for Sustainable Energy, include:

kitchen appliance electricity usage

  • Electric shower: 29p - 44p
  • Immersion heater: 12.5p
  • Kettle: 12.5p
  • Tumble Dryer: 8p - 12.5p
  • Electric fire: 8p - 12.5p
  • Oven: 8p - 9p
  • Hairdryer: 8p
  • Washing machine: 5p - 12.5p
  • Dishwasher: 4.5p - 6p
  • Grill/hob: 4p - 8.5p
  • Iron: 4p - 4.5p
  • Toaster: 3.3p - 6.2p
  • Microwave: 2.5p - 6.2p
  • Vacuum cleaner: 2p - 5p
  • Dehumidifier: 2p - 2.8p
  • Fridge-freezer: 8p - 1.6p
  • Freezer - 6p
  • Heating blanket: 5p - 0.8p
  • LCD TV: 5p - 0.8p
  • Desktop computer: 3p - 0.8p
  • Laptop: 1p
  • Video/DVD/CD: 1p
  • Broadband router: less than 0.1p
  • Extractor fan: less than 0.1p
  • Smartphone (charge): less than 0.1p

The cost of gas-powered central heating, hot water and cooking with gas can be a little more variable, as boilers come in various sizes and power ratings and have lots of different settings that can affect how much energy they use.

However, with the current price cap of just over 7p kWh for gas, and an average size 35kw boiler, an hour of heating use could be estimated to cost roughly £2.50.

Understanding how much certain appliances cost to use can help us prioritise essentials and perhaps make us think a little more about how much we use some devices, along with bearing in mind the below tips to reduce usage.

 

Ways to save electricity at home

There’s lots of electricity bill saving tips that can help reduce the energy you’re using. While individually the savings might seem small, when added together, they can make a real difference to the bills.

Whether it’s the TV, a microwave with an always-on display, a smart speaker, a set-top box or any other appliance that has lights or displays that are always showing, when in standby mode, they still draw small amounts of electricity.

Turning these devices off at the plug when not being used could potentially save around £55 a year.

Energy Saving Trust

Other energy-saving tips

  • Turn off the lights in rooms not being used – save around £20 a year
  • Using your washing machine one less load per week and on a 30-degree cycle – save around £28 a year
  • Don’t use a tumble dryer but instead dry clothes outside (when weather allows) or inside on racks – save around £60 a year
  • Only use the amount of water you need when boiling the kettle – save around £11 a year
  • If you use a dishwasher, only run a cycle when full – save around £14 a year
  • If you have an electric shower, keep showers to 4 minutes long – save around £70 a year
  • If you have an electric oven, use a slow cooker instead for some meals as they cost around 16p to cook a meal that would cost 87p to cook in the oven

 

Ways to use less gas at home

One way in which central heating costs can be reduced is if you take steps to make the home more draught-proof - which will mean that you can use the heating less often as the property will retain the heat better.

Top areas to draught-proof include:

  • Windows – also remembering to close curtains at dusk to help keep heat in
  • Doors – also remembering to close internal doors to stop heat escaping to rooms you don’t need to be warm
  • Chimneys
  • Cracks in the skirting board

Getting these areas professionally insulated is an option, but DIY methods can be much cheaper and effective too.

Self-adhesive foam strips can work really well on window draughts, draught excluders for doors can be made yourself and gaps, and skirting board cracks can be resolved with some flexible filler. Reducing draughts like this could save an estimated £45 a year.

Staying warm

Other ways to reduce your gas usage

  • Swapping one bath a week for a 4-minute shower could save around £12 a year on energy and it also uses considerably less water
  • Making sure your heating thermostat isn’t set higher than you need. A single degree reduction could mean significant savings
  • Wear extra layers at home to reduce the amount of time you need to use the heating
  • Use a low wattage electric blanket at night rather than leaving the heating on overnight
  • Use a slow cooker for cooking meals sometimes, rather than a gas oven
  • Turn down the flow temperature on combi boilers, which can save up to around 8% on heating bills

 

The importance of keeping warm in winter for the elderly

As we age, our bodies gradually become less able to retain heat and circulate it around the body. This means that the cold puts more pressure on hearts and circulation - so it’s more important than ever to keep warm in the winter.

As we get older, our immune systems also becomes less effective, which means it can’t fight off infections as well as it used to.

Staying warm is really important for maintaining health and wellbeing.

Heating the home (to a minimum of 18-degrees Celsius) is important, but it’s not the only way to help older people stay warm during the winter months.

Other ways to keep warm at home

  • Wearing several thin layers rather than fewer thick layers, which helps to trap warm air between them and keep the body warmer
  • Regular warm drinks and food can also help us stay warmer (a large flask of tea could save using the kettle as much)
  • Using fleece blankets when sitting on a chair, sofa or in bed can help keep the body warmer
  • Hot water bottles or low-wattage heated blankets/throws can also help keep someone warmer
  • Exercising indoors or moving around the home regularly can help maintain circulation

If you have an older loved one that you’re concerned about with rising energy bills and the coming colder weather, one way to help bring peace of mind is to consider care alarms for the elderly.

They’re incredibly energy efficient, currently costing around 0.6p per day to run (£2.44 per year) - a personal alarm system ensures that if something happens when you’re not with them, your loved one can reach help and assistance 24/7.

Home sensor

With Taking Care Sense, the system monitors your elderly loved one’s home and daily habits and can raise an alert if anything changes.

Importantly, it also monitors things such as home temperature extremes, so can raise an alert is the heating use is reduced and can act as an early warning signal for families to check on their elderly relative.

Choose a personal alarm

You can choose from our full range of personal alarms to find the right one for your loved one and to provide reassurance that help is at hand if it’s needed.

Personal alarms

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure


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