29% of young households borrowing to pay the heating bills
Government schemes not doing enough to help younger households
Utility companies have caught the headlines recently for cutting energy bills. But the reductions are small and behind this story is another one that’s both surprising and worrying.
The findings of a December poll by Find Energy Savings suggest that it's the under 40s that are suffering the most from high energy prices. Whilst free or subsidised boilers are available to those on low-incomes, fuel poverty is often directly associated with the elderly, but the survey results – repeating the research that the site first carried out two years earlier - might challenge any preconceptions you may have about the impacts of fuel poverty, and how it affects younger people.
The results of the survey highlighted that almost one-third of respondents under 40 years of age had borrowed money at some stage in the past six months specifically to assist in paying their fuel bills, with the vast majority of those instances being assistance from family members. Perhaps most notably – or of most concern - however, is that some 4% of those who had borrowed money admitted to have using payday loan companies, despite the fact that such companies often charge exorbitantly high interest rates.
Most surprisingly of all, the survey found that respondents of under-40 were twice as likely as those in the older age bracket to have made an ‘eat or heat’ choice within the past six months. Whilst the survey doesn’t focus on what choice they ultimately made, the very fact that people find themselves in that situation acts to highlight the pressure that high energy costs place on the homes of people of all ages.
And where households can invest to help themselves, Find Energy Savings found that 1-in-3 respondents below 40 years of age had not had their boiler serviced within the past twelve months. With the average cost of an annual service standing at around £85-90, servicing a boiler which appears to be working effectively may seem, on the face of it, to be throwing the money away, but with estimates that regularly serviced boilers can last some 5-10 years longer than those that are not serviced, it appears that older respondents are more likely to see the cost of servicing as an investment to extend the life of an expensive asset.
Find Energy Savings found that whilst around half of those of 40+ were actively switching off their heating every day to manage their energy bills, the figure was markedly higher in people of under-40, with almost two-thirds manually switching off their heating to cut costs.
Have you had to make any tough decisions or cut backs within the last 6 months? If so, join the discussion and post your comments below.