Myth busting: are the top cost saving tips accessible?
Over the past few months, most of us have been trying harder than usual to pick up tips and tricks for reducing our energy bills. But for many disabled households, these cost-saving measures don’t work. Steven Morris shares his research.
This is a bit of a myth busting exercise. The idea that non-disabled homes can run the same way disabled homes do simply isn’t true; there are many budgeting challenges and practicalities that many non-disabled households just don’t have to think about.
The biggest myth of all is that disabled people are budgeting badly. We know that families and individuals across the UK are doing all that they can to make ends meet. But with over half of disabled households currently in debt they need better longer-term support.
Myth 1: You can save money by using energy off-peak.
Many of leading energy firms have implemented schemes whereby users can sign up to be paid to reduce energy usage at peak times. Something like a million households have already signed up.
The issue for disabled people is that their needs can’t be rescheduled to fit around peak and off-peak times. Electric feeding machines, washing soiled clothing and using electric hoists are all required throughout the day. For disabled households who are dependent on such equipment, they won’t be able to take part in the scheme.
Myth 2: Turning the thermostat down by a degree will reduce your bill.
We often hear this tip – turn the thermostat down by a degree or two, and you’ll save money on your heating and energy bills.
However, many disabled people need to have their homes heated to a specific temperature for their health. For some people with complex disabilities, they are unable to regulate their body temperature. Keeping them warm is essential – it prevents them from getting seriously ill or having life-threatening seizures.
One alternative suggestion is to turn off radiators or turn them down in rooms you aren’t currently using. While this could work for some people, as is probably already being employed by many, it may then limit the rooms in the house the disabled person can use. There may also be accessibility issues for a disabled person to manage this by themselves.
Myth 3: You should be turning things off at the plug.
Turning off any devices that you aren’t using regularly at the wall can save money. Having things on standby uses electricity and can clock up on your energy bill.
For non-disabled people, this couldn’t be simpler. They can access plug sockets, even the awkward ones behind the TV, to flick the mains switch on and off. However, if you have reduced vision or mobility then accessing plug sockets can present a challenge. Others, too, might find it complex to remember to keep up with this routine.
Myth 4: Take showers – shorter showers.
People are being urged to take shorter showers or have shallower baths. This will reduce amount of energy and water used, shaving some money off regular bills.
But this isn’t something that everyone can do. For people with complex disabilities, it’s sometimes necessary to wash more than once a day. Dignity, comfort and health could be put at risk if you’re not able to shower adequately or as often as you need.
Myth 5: You’re alone.
The rising cost of living has pushed so many families to breaking point. Our research has shown that 51% of family carers in the UK are now in debt. 61% are unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm.
Recognition must be given to the additional pressures that disabled households face. Will you join us in demanding more?
Give your support to our cost of living campaign by signing our petition, asking your MP to attend our cost of living event or by donating so we can be there for more families.