Over 50s hit hardest by rocketing energy prices

Friday 8 November 2013

• Only 1.6% changed energy suppliers in the last two years • Three quarters of over 50s say they are likely to shop around • One in six over 65s are reluctant to turn their heating on

Over 50s hit hardest by rocketing energy prices

With rocketing energy prices it’s no surprise that over 50s are keen to control their costs as they are the group who spend proportionately more of their monthly expenditure on fuel than those under 50.  In fact as a proportion of their expenditure, pensioners, and in particular those aged over 75, spend around twice as much as those aged 30-49 on heating their homes1.  

The desire by the over 50s to save money is clear - in a survey of 10,253 people aged over 50, three quarters said they would shop around for the best deals for energy 2.  However in practice only 1.6% changed energy supplier in the last two years3, which may demonstrate how complicated people think it is to directly compare tariffs. 

A similar proportion of people say they wanted to shop around for motor insurance, and an estimated 14% go on to change provider each year4.  So people are 8 times more likely to change motor insurance in a year than change energy provider in two years.

Heating homes is a necessity, and even more so as winter approaches, especially for older people. However, research suggests that the over 50s are making sacrifices to save a penny or two, as one in six over 65s say they have waited until this month before turning their heating on5. Perhaps they would have flicked the switch before now if energy prices were more reasonable.

Paul Green, director of communications, Saga Group, commented: “As the nights draw in and the temperature tumbles many older people are delaying putting on the heating or being more frugal about how often they use it, however heating your home could be a life or death decision for some.

“Competition is the only sure-fire way to keep the home fires burning at a reasonable cost – but the market is failing, and much more needs to be done to make switching your energy provider as natural as choosing an insurer or supermarket.  A national campaign to aide the exercise of choice will significantly benefit the nations over 50s.”

Londoners could be missing out on the best deals, as almost a fifth say they won’t shop around when it comes time to renew their contract. However, people in Yorkshire and Humber are the savviest energy consumers as they are the most likely to shop around until they get the best energy price.




Notes to Editors

  • 1Fuel spending data sourced from Household Panel Survey. 

Energy Expenditure (% total expenditure ) by age of household reference person

Under 30 30-49  50-64 65-74 75+ All
 Total Expenditure  100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%  
Electricity, gas and other fuels 3.7% 3.8% 4.7% 5.9% 7.4% 4.6%

  • 2Populus interviewed 10,253 adults, all aged 50 and over, online between 17th and 23rd May 2013.  Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • 3TGI 2013 Q3 (April 2012 – March 2013)
  • 4GFK NOP and is based on a sample
  • 5Research carried out by the AA/Populus Home Panel amongst 1631 adults aged 18+ between 22 August and 4th September 2013

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