Citing Age UK, the country’s leading charity for older people, Bedford Today reported that roughly 150 one-person households aged over 65 have no access to central heating in Bedford.
Age UK marks this figure as a “tremendous concern” and asks the government to call for immediate action.
“These figures are of tremendous concern, as older people lacking central heating often find it very difficult to stay warm during the winter months with potentially serious consequences for their health and well-being, stated Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK.
Fleshing Out the Reasons
In 2021, roughly 8993 over-65s in Bedford were likely to be living alone, constituting a staggering 30% of the age group, according to an analysis of census 2021 data by the PA news agency.
Of the aged people living alone, 146 (1.6%) were without central heating.
According to Age UK, if proper measures can’t be implemented before the next winter sets in, the country is poised to face a “perfect storm” which will cause older people to suffer severely.
One of the key players causing this suffering among aged people is the current energy crisis stemming from geopolitical and economic uncertainty.
On top of that, the issues posed by the current energy crisis have amplified the Ukraine conflict. As the gas supply scenario in the UK seems to be exacerbated by the war, energy costs keep spiralling upward.
It becomes challenging for elderly people living alone to pay the fixed costs of central heating. Stretching the income of a single person to cover multiple expenses can sometimes lead to serious repercussions among aged people – such as social isolation.
In such a situation, the spiking cost of living and rising inflation looming over the country has prompted an increase in the number of aged people struggling to afford heating their houses.
Driving Energy Efficiency Can Help
Stressing the importance of making heating accessible to everyone in the UK, Ms. Abrahams said, “Expanding central heating access and providing suitable alternatives to keep older people warm will be absolutely key.”
Describing the number of people living without heating in Bedford as “deeply concerning,” Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, stated, “No person in Britain should have to live in a cold home.”
According to the secretary, as part of its effort to upgrade the heating system of homes, thus ensuring families have “the warmth they need” at a cheaper energy rate, Labour is set to roll out a national Warm Homes Plan.
The plan is expected to upgrade the energy efficiency of up to 2M homes in a year, helping households cut up to £500 off their annual energy bills.
According to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), driving the energy efficiency of homes is the most viable and long-term approach to fighting the current fuel poverty and energy crisis.
“We know this is a difficult time for families, including older people, which is why we’ve been covering around half of the typical household’s energy bill and committed over £6.6 billion in this parliament to improve energy efficiency,” said a spokesperson from Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).
As part of its effort to support low-income and vulnerable households while also offering improvements to the UK’s least energy-efficient houses, the DESNZ has launched the expansion of the Great British Insulation Scheme.
With this scheme, the government is committed to tackling fuel poverty and helping slash a significant amount off energy bills.
That said, UK residents are urged to follow governmental measures to transition to a more “energy efficient future” and affordable energy costs.
Besides adding insulation, and deploying energy-efficient appliances, keeping an updated service on boilers is a great way to minimise energy losses, thus driving energy efficiency.
For residents looking to save on their energy bills by making their boilers more energy efficient, leveraging a high-end boiler repair service like Mulgas is a sensible investment. Periodic servicing ensures boilers run efficiently, thus reducing energy waste.
Living without central heating is one of the household aspects that indicate deprivation.
Age UK urges people in suffering to contact its advice line for immediate support.