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soaring prices

Cost of living crisis: Most households intend to use their home heating less often this winter

A new poll from Red C and The Journal shows that 76% intend to delay putting the heating on.

OVER THREE-QUARTERS of people already are or intend to use their home heating less often, a new poll shows.

The Red C poll carried out on behalf of The Journal found that 77% of people said that they already or intend to use their home heating less often, while 76% have already or intend to delay putting the heating on. 

Plus, 44% said they already or intend to use an open fire or stove more frequently, while 64% already or intend to turn down the thermostat.

The poll comes as Ireland approaches months of colder winter temperatures following a year of increasing energy prices. Since the summer, politicians have been warning that the winter would be a difficult time for energy use, while energy companies have increased their prices for billpayers several times. 

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The higher prices are already having an impact – last week, it was revealed that 125,000 Electric Ireland customers are in arrears.

The government introduced an energy credit earlier this year, and in the 2023 Budget also announced that households will receive electricity credits worth a total of €600 over the coming months. 

The credits will be applied automatically to accounts in a series of three €200 credits, with the first being applied to bills before the end of the year, and then the remaining two being applied in early 2023.

The measure will cost a total of €1.2 billion.

Additionally, the Government announced a €400 lump sum Fuel Allowance payment, which will be paid out starting on 14 November.

There will also be a disconnection moratorium over the winter months, with bill pay electricity and gas customers unable to be disconnected between 1 December 2022 and 28 February 2023.

However, concerns have been raised about whether or not people on pay-as-you-go utility meters will be covered under this moratorium due to automatic cutoffs when households run out of emergency credit.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has also warned that as many as 43% of households could now be in energy poverty, defined as when more than 10% of the household’s income is spent on electricity and gas bills.

This is up from a record high of 29% in June 2022.

Older people

As the cost of living increases, there are concerns about how some of the country’s vulnerable groups will cope with the increasing prices and fears over the cost of heating.

Speaking to The Journal, CEO of Alone Sean Moynihan said that the results of the Red C poll would reflect what the charity is seeing on the ground. In a recent survey, it found that people had made adjustments to spending on food, transport, health, and medication and they foresee making other adjustments around heat. 

Alone welcomes the one-off payments that have been made by the government, but Moynihan said that it is keeping an eye on what will happen as we enter the winter and into 2023.

Moynihan said there is a “nervousness” around energy prices among older people.

He said that for older people, especially those aged over 75, there is a public health issue around heat.

“We know the government message is about conserving energy costs,” he said. “We also know for older people we have to make sure they continue to spend money on heating.”

“The reality is there’s 100,000 older people this winter at risk of energy poverty and/or food security,” he said. 

Every year there are also excess winter deaths, as more people pass away in winter than summer. This year, Alone is concerned about whether that projected number might rise, given that some of these deaths would be directly related to cold. 

What can also contribute to the issue is that 70% of those over 75 live in the lowest BER-rated homes. “They tend to live in older houses with lower BER ratings, which are less cost efficient than everyone else’s,” he said. This can have a further impact on their wellbeing.

While Alone is concerned about the cost of energy bills, it wants to give “a clear message to older people they do need to make sure that their house is kept at the correct temperature” so that they are not cold, said Moynihan. 

Moynihan said that if any older person is worried about health, transport or energy, they can contact Alone seven days a week on 0749321598 or email 

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