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Protect the Elderly Facing Fuel Poverty this Winter – Today

Summer is over and the nights are already starting to draw in. Soon winter will be upon us which for those that struggle with fuel poverty can be a difficult and frightening time. The colder days mean higher fuel bills which some cannot afford to pay.

One group that are particularly vulnerable in winter is the elderly. More susceptible to colds and illnesses the winter can seriously challenge their health. However, our older people should not fear. There is plenty of help and advice available so start planning for the colder season.

What is Fuel Poverty?

According to the Government a household is classed as living in fuel poverty if it needs to spend 10% or more of household income to satisfactorily heat their home. ‘Satisfactorily’ is described as 21 degrees Celsius in the main living area and 18 degrees Celsius in other occupied rooms.

In the UK it is estimated that around 4.5m houses live in fuel poverty. This is nearly one fifth of all households in the UK. Obviously, this includes everyone, not just the elderly. Everyone that lives in fuel poverty requires help, and there is help out there. However, the winter can hit the elderly particularly hard.

Winter Fuel Payment for Older People

Older people can receive financial help this winter from the Government in form of a fuel payment. In order to be eligible you must be born on or before 5th July 1951. Depending on age and circumstances the recipient could be paid between £100-£300. For further details and how to apply for the grant see the Government website.

The winter fuel payment can go a long way to contributing to a much warmer winter and the increase in heat older people need.

Cold Weather Payment

On top of the Winter Fuel Payment those on some benefits can receive an extra payment during weeks of extra cold weather. This includes those on pension credits. Between November 1st and March 31st recipients will receive £25 for any week where the average temperature is 0 degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days. The Government will know if you are entitled to the cold weather payment and payment will be made automatically. If you think you are entitled to the cold weather payment and are not receiving it contact your local council.

Making the Home Energy Efficient

As winter approaches it is important that older peoples’ homes are as energy efficient as possible. This way heat will be kept in and the money saved can be put towards keeping the home warmer.

There are many ways to make the home more energy efficient and some that will not cost a lot.

The Government is currently offering free forms of insulations so get family and friends to research to see if the older person’s property may be eligible. In addition, literally anyway the property can be made more energy efficient would see dividends. This will save on utility bills and again, this can be used towards heating costs. From switching lights off to using more energy efficient appliances – as the saying goes, every little helps.

If possible getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) would be highly beneficial as for around £40 a professional will give advice about how to make the property more energy efficient. Making recommended changes could save hundreds of pounds and safeguard older people’s futures for a long time.

Getting Extra Help

If older people do find themselves in difficulty this winter there is a huge amount of help on offer. Charities, such as AgeUK will always look to help and there is a plethora of advice available from other charities and local councils. Older people should not suffer in silence, if you are struggling or suspect someone older is in difficulty this winter let someone know.

The key to helping older people this winter and reduce the number of cold related illnesses and deaths, is start preparing for winter – now. Get financial and practical help to prepare older people and their homes for the cold, giving the warmth needed and just as importantly, piece of mind for this coming winter.

Written by Michael Hallam

1 Comment to Protect the Elderly Facing Fuel Poverty this Winter – Today

  1. Corinium's Gravatar Corinium
    January 15, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It’s always a good thing to help the elderly in the winter. I have caregiver work to help me out when I am away on work,

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