Millennials and younger people are the most consistent group to be altering their behaviour due to the cost of living crisis – inadvertently leaving them potentially exposed to new risks, recent analysis shows.
Separate pieces of research, looking at changing shopping habits and changes in how people intend to heat themselves and their homes, revealed how younger people were consistently more likely to change their behaviour due to the significantly increased cost of living.
A survey surrounding shopping habits revealed that whilst swathes of the population were turning to second hand electrical goods as an alternative to new, due to financial pressures, younger people were vastly more likely to do so.
Shoppers aged 25-34 were more than twice as likely to turn to second hand electrics instead of new compared to those 55 and over, with more than 63% of younger people admitting to doing so[ii].
As households continue to struggle with the cost of energy a recent survey of more than 3,000 adults across the UK suggests that millions more will turn to electric heaters to heat a single room in their home – directly as a result of concerns over the cost of central heating[iii]
Yet whilst all demographics demonstrated changing behaviour in the face of soaring heating bills, those aged 16-24 and 25-34 were consistently much more likely to turn to electric heaters and downsize the area they keep warm to a single room[iv].
These younger age groups were almost twice as likely to use an electric heater to heat a single room in their home due to concerns over the cost of energy than those aged 55 and over[v].
Year-on-year 16-24 year olds were 4% more likely to plan to use electric heaters to heat a single room than in 2021.
Whilst younger people were most likely to turn to electric heaters, those within the same age group who already owned one were the most likely to demonstrate risky behaviour by plugging them into an extension lead – a mistake that could overload the extension lead and cause a fire[vi].
Respondents to the survey nationally, who privately rented a property, were the most likely to turn to heaters[vii].
As households turn to alternative heat sources this winter, a concerning finding was the likelihood of younger people to use an electric blanket as an alternative heat source to central heating due to concerns over the cost of energy.
Of all the age groups younger people between 16-24 and 25-34 were vastly more likely to use electric blankets in this way – three times more likely than those aged 55+[viii].
Josh a 23-year-old young professional from Oxfordshire is one such person changing his behaviour this winter: “Turning the heating on has become something I really need to think about now given the cost. For me, purchasing an electric blanket seemed a no brainer to help me keep costs down. Financial pressures caused by the cost of living made me re-think so much, and one of them was cutting back on the heating bills. The blanket is so helpful in keeping me warm, especially in the evenings when it’s coldest. It heats up quickly too and feels more efficient than waiting for the heating to warm the house. I think people my age didn’t really turn to electric blankets so much before the cost of living crisis but now so many of us are really doing whatever we can to save some cash.”
Whilst older people remain a high-risk group for electrical safety in the home the new analysis of research has prompted fears younger people are being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis in a way that could unintentionally put them at risk of fire or electric shock in the home.
Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, commented: “Younger people have become a new vulnerable group during the cost of living crisis in areas we may have traditionally focussed on other demographics. Attempts to be more thrifty in a cost of living crisis are likely contributing to younger people changing their behaviour more than any other age group but it’s imperative they do all they can to stay electrically safe. Fires do not discriminate and with evidence of such changing behaviour we want to ensure younger people take steps to reduce their risk.
The charity is urging younger people to follow this advice when using electric blankets, heaters and when buying second hand electrics. Check your electric blanket for frays in cabling and inspect it for scorch marks – if you find any of these stop using it.
- Roll your blanket as opposed to folding it. Over time folding can weaken the wiring in the blanket.
- Never leave your electric heater close to fabrics which might set alight.
- Don’t plug your heater into an extension lead as this could risk overloading.
- With second hand electricals, stick to brands you know and trust and purchase from reputable retailers such as the British Heart Foundation who have systems in place to ensure products re-sold to the public are safe
- Ask questions such as whether the product has been checked for a recall when buying second hand goods and ensure you check the product for damaged cables and any noticeable wear and tear
- Register any second hand product you buy with the manufacturer so that you can be contacted in the event a fault occurs.
[i] Of the 336 adults aged between 25-34 asked the question ‘ How much more likely or less likely are you to buy/consider buying second-hand electric goods (as an alternative to new) due to the cost-of-living crisis?’ 63.10% said they were either ‘Much more likely’ or ‘Somewhat more likely’
[ii] Of the 336 adults aged between 25-34 asked the question ‘ How much more likely or less likely are you to buy/consider buying second-hand electric goods (as an alternative to new) due to the cost-of-living crisis?’ 63.10% said they were either ‘Much more likely’ or ‘Somewhat more likely’
[iii] Combining those who said ‘Yes, definitely’ or ‘Yes, possibly’ to: Do you plan to use an electric heater solely to heat a single room in your home because you are concerned about the cost of central heating this winter? = total of 46.29%
[iv] When asked the question ‘Do you plan to use an electric heater solely to heat a single room in your home because you are concerned about the cost of central heating this winter?’ 66.67% of 16-24 year old respondents replied with either ‘yes definitely’ or ‘yes possibly’. When asked the same question 59.31% of those aged 25-34 years old replied with either ‘yes definitely’ or ‘yes possibly’.
[v] Of those surveyed aged 55+ when asked the question 'Do you plan to use an electric heater solely to heat a single room in your home because you are concerned about the cost of central heating this winter?’ 32.22% replied with either ‘yes definitely’ or ‘yes possibly’
[vi] Of those surveyed who own an electric heater when asked the question ‘How do you connect your electric heater?’ 40.52% of those aged between 16 – 24 replied ‘I use an extension lead’. When asked the same question 34.91% of those aged 25-34 replied ‘I use an extension lead’. Both groups had the highest % levels of all age groups for using an extension lead when replying to this survey question
[vii] Of the 3,010 adults across the UK asked the question ‘Do you plan to use an electric heater solely to heat a single room in your home because you are concerned about the cost of central heating this winter?’, of those who replied with ‘yes definitely’ or ‘yes possibly’ respondents broken down by ‘living arrangement’ those privately renting accounted for the highest percentage at 53.91%
[viii] When asked the question ‘Do you plan to use an electric blanket this winter as an alternative heat source to the central heating system because of the cost of energy?’ 54.20% of those aged 16-24 replied with either ‘yes frequently’ or ‘yes sometimes’. Of those aged 25-34, 46.21% replied with either ‘yes frequently’ or ‘yes sometimes’. Only 18.08% of those aged 55+ replied with the same responses.