I tried out a little heating experiment yesterday. The heating came on about 7.30ish but I switched it off at 10 o’clock, making sure the whole house got a good warming, and then put a fleece on while I worked to see if that make a difference. Luckily it’s been so mild that I’ve been able to get away without having the heating on as much really. Although doing a sedentary job – ie. sitting at a computer – means you get colder quicker because you’re not moving around – not unlike being a pensioner who can’t get about the way they used to, I suppose. Maybe it would be a good idea to get up every so often and run up and down to get warm!
The radiator in my office needs fixing and it’s cold in there, so I’ve been sitting in the lounge instead. Round about lunchtime I started feeling a bit chilly, even with DJ’s fleece and a few cups of tea inside me, so I put the gas fire on for a bit. I don’t tend to use it much because in the evenings, if it’s cold, we have the heating on instead, so I’d forgotten just how much heat it kicks out. After five minutes I had to turn it off as I was boiling.
In the afternoon I rang up Age Concern to get some more information on pensioner issues and spoke to a very helpful lady there called Emma. She told me that being too money conscious about heating bills isn’t necessarily the best approach at all when you’re elderly. According to some research the charity did last year, there were 22,300 cold weather related deaths in the winter of 2006/7among pensioners. Fuel bills have gone up by a whopping 60 per cent over the past four years and – as Snaggletooth pointed out in a comment just the other day – because of this many pensioners are too concerned about making ends meet to put the heating on. But not keeping warm enough can put elderly people at risk of developing cold-related illnesses, like pneumonia.
Worryingly, Emma also told me that an awful lot of pensioners are actually making their budgets unnecessarily tight by not claiming benefits they’re entitled to, like the pension credit, money to cover council tax payments, carers’ and attendance allowances. Apparently, some don’t like the idea of taking handouts, while others simply find the whole system too complicated and need help filling out the forms – which is something Age Concern can help people with. The charity is running a campaign called Your Rights, aimed at helping pensioners with advice on claiming credits and getting help with heating bills. There is also help available with heating improvements and insulation which they may be able to claim.
I’m visiting one of the charity’s lunch clubs next week to find out what real pensioners spend their time getting up to and how they manage their budgets. They tell me the lunch costs £2.50 so the budget should stand it!
On the bright side, I’ve managed not to spend any money at all on Wednesday and Thursday – although my neighbour did point out that was because I’d barely been out of the house!
Have a good weekend. Piper xxx