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Over-65s struggling to pay their energy bills in winter

Over-65s struggling to pay their energy bills in winter

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One in five people over 65 are struggling to pay their energy bills over the winter months, according to new Uswitch research.

Two in five — or 2.4 million — keep the lights turned off while they are in the house at night, in an effort to cut down on their bills, while 40% say they can only afford their energy bills if they make spending cutbacks in other areas.

Millions choose between heating and eating

Shockingly, this has led to 1.4 million pensioners to rely on just one cooked meal a day in order to stay out of debt.

Three quarters of pensioners on a household income of £30,000 or less said they have taken some measures to cut back on their energy spending, inluding keeping internal doors closed (59%), heating one room at a time (16%) and even wearing a coat or jumper in bed (11%).

Sarah Broomfield, Uswitch energy expert, said: "It's really concerning to discover that so many elderly people are struggling to stay out of debt and keep warm over the winter.

"No one should have to limit how many hot meals they have every day, or keep their homes dark at night because they're so worried about their energy bills."

Save money by switching

A quarter (25%) of those surveyed admitted that they have stuck with the same energy supplier for at least 11 years.

Almost a third (29%) said they were on a standard variable tariff, meaning they could be paying almost £400 more than they need to — when it takes only minutes to switch to a cheaper tariff.

Broomfield said: "It's vital to understand that loyalty to energy suppliers will only ever leave people overpaying by hundreds of pounds a year on poor-value standard variable tariffs."

Could you get help with your energy bills?

Many people could be saving even more by claiming the energy benefits that they're entitled to.

The vast majority of over-65s should be eligible for the government's Winter Fuel Allowance, a payment of up to £300 to help pay for heating bills.

The benefit should be paid automatically, but one in ten people surveyed said they do not receive it, with 77% of those saying they don't think they're eligible.

Sarah Broomfield said: "If people are meant to be automatically enrolled to recieve benefits, it's really important that they know what they're entitled to — that way they can check if they don't think they've been receiving the support they're due."

Use our tool below to see if you're eligible for any government schemes that could help with your energy costs.

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