Our new report, Out in the cold, reveals the high costs many disabled people face for their energy.
Over a third of disabled people say that their impairment or condition has an impact on their energy costs. Many disabled adults have worried about paying their energy bills, and many disabled households are living in fuel poverty.
This follows our research published last week which found that on average, disabled people face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition.
Paying more for energy is something that Lynley knows all too well. When she became disabled her energy costs shot up. In this blog, Lynley talks about the impact this has had on her life.
Three year ago I suffered a sacral spinal fracture due to early-onset osteoporosis, which damaged nerves and has left me with permanent neurological pain.
Before I became disabled, I never gave the heating a thought. It wasn’t on very often, but things are different now. I have problems with my mobility and I’m at home every day. As a result, my energy bill has shot up.
When you can’t move around, you feel the temperature much more and being cold affects my pain levels enormously. I have to wear extra layers of clothing to keep warm and I need the heating on constantly.
I also have an electric blanket for my bed and an electric heat pad which I use to help with my pain. I use electricity to charge my electric powerchair which I need to use to get around outside the house. This needs charging frequently so it’s another additional energy cost.
My bill is so much higher than before. Coupled with the loss of my income as a teacher, this has made ‘getting by’ very difficult. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps but there is very little money left over for anything else. I have to prioritise heating so that I’m not in pain.
Life is now very different
Since becoming disabled, my living standards have changed dramatically. I was a professional secondary school teacher in a large comprehensive and was managing five members of departmental staff. I had a large amount of disposable income and enjoyed a fairly busy social life. Things are now very different.
I’m unable to work and now try my best to manage on my benefits and my small pension but it is very difficult sometimes. Energy costs take up a substantial portion of my income. It’s even harder where I live because we are unable to get mainstream gas and have to rely on oil central heating which is extremely expensive.
Any kind of social life is extremely difficult, holidays are a luxury and disposable income is now virtually non-existent.
What would help
It’s not fair that disabled people who need more energy and who might be on lower incomes have to meet these extra costs themselves. There should be more support and awareness. I haven’t received any form of financial help with my energy costs.
Benefits like PIP are there to supposedly fill the gap but it is insufficient to really make a difference. I would like to see a different energy tariff applied if there is a disabled person within the home, much the same as the council tax rebate we are eligible for.
That would make a big difference to my quality of life.
Help us to get people talking about the extra costs. Share our report on Facebook or Twitter using the #ExtraCosts
We also have information about support with your fuel bills.