In the report, ‘The Cost of Cold’, the charity says older people are continuing to die prematurely from cold-related illnesses because of cold homes, calling the situation a ‘hidden public health scandal’.
The report shows that 27,000 unnecessary winter deaths occur each year due to respiratory problems, strokes and heart attacks as a result of low temperatures.
It follows recent research by uSwitch which found that the recent energy price rises has piled an additional £753 million onto household bills and pushed a further 314,000 households into fuel poverty.
uSwitch found that nine in ten households are likely to ration their energy this winter, while the cost of energy is the top household worry for consumers.
‘8,000 extra deaths per 1 degree drop’
The Age UK report claims that there are an extra 8,000 deaths per 1 degree drop in temperature, even in mild winters. Those living in the coldest homes in the UK are three times more likely to die from cold-related illnesses than those in warm homes.
What’s more, the charity claim that the phenomenon is preventable. Colder countries such as Finland have lower death rates due to better insulation and more knowledge around the importance of staying warm.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK said: “It’s an absolute scandal that tens of thousands of older people will become ill or die this winter because they are unable to keep warm.
“Not only is this resulting in an incalculable human cost, but the NHS is spending more than a billion pounds on treating the casualties of cold every year.
“At the root of the problem are badly insulated homes, which together with cripplingly high energy prices, are leaving millions of older people having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford.
What can you do?
- Are you eligible for help? There are lots of energy grants available, from the winter fuel payment and cold weather payment, to things like the warm front scheme that can help with energy efficiency upgrades.
- Do you have insulation? Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your home warm, and with government subsidies it is surprisingly affordable.
- Struggling to pay the bills? There may be help available from your energy supplier in the form of social tariffs.
- Make sure you and your neighbours aren’t paying too much for their energy by being on the wrong tariff. There’s £300 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive energy tariffs.