Hot to trot

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

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7 Responses to Hot to trot

  1. JustMe says:

    Great informative blog.
    Its such a shame that so many go with out what they are clearly due to and in some cases this leads to their death.
    Enjoy the lunch next week

  2. Christine says:

    Pride is a great deterrent to getting pensioners to claim for everything. Present older pensioner generation comes from the look after yourself ethic and aren\’t used to dealing with the state and all it\’s hoops. You can run an awful lot of campaigns but my son who works as an ambulance driver says that most often the pensioners he gets calls to are those who get missed by the system and part of his job is to fill in forms to start the local social services in these cases. You are also finding out what a lot of pensioners actually do – stay at home.

  3. Christine says:

    Have just spotted this information – it makes interesting reading on what the major suppliers are doing with gas and electricity prices

  4. snaggletooth says:

    If I was a bigger cynic than I already am, I might see a link between fuel bills going up in winter, (look at the rises this year!), old folks dying of hypothermia, and the pension crisis, (i.e. possibly helping them solve it!).  mmm….. would even our beloved government arrange such a thing?We only have the heating on for an hour or so in the morning to take the chill off, then it\’s on again as it gets dark for a few hours. First though, check your insulation\’s up to scratch, no point paying to heat the outside world!

  5. piper says:

    We\’ve got cavity wall and loft insulation – I\’m just one of those people who feels the cold!  But re being a cynic….just because you\’re paranoid doesn\’t mean they\’re not after you…!
    You\’re right Christine – but it\’s daft when pensioners have worked all their lives and paid national insurance.  They should take the money. Thanks Helen – I\’ll let you know how I get on.  Apparently there are a lot of characters at the day centre in Chelmsford where I\’m going so am looking forward to meeting them all.  Not to mention getting out of the house!  xxx

  6. mark says:

    well done

  7. karen says:

    Ok pensioners are not well off when surviving on state pension but to be perfectly honest they are no worse off than genuine single parents who for whatever reason are unable to work. But when you so much as mention these people who are also struggling to survive as well as feed children on very little money, there is uproar.  I live next door to a pensioner living on her own on a state pension and I can confirm that she receives more in benefits per week for herself than my friend, who is a single parent with 1 child, receives for 2 people! How then are pensioners living in such terrible conditions? Are they out at the bingo or the pub every night?

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