Adults aged 60 and over living in industrialized countries spend more money on heating and running their electrical appliances than younger citizens. These seniors are also more likely to have difficulty lowering these prices, according to a study partly conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland.

The research team, which also includes specialists from the universities of Shandong, China, and Groningen, the Netherlands, also found that energy costs represent an increasing share of income as people age.

This study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Seniors tend to stay at home longer due to their health needs and therefore use more energy at home. Their energy consumption trends are also determined by generational and habit-related factors, as is the case for baby boomers, who consume more gasoline according to their vehicle preferences. one of the authors of the work.

“This leads to a greater financial burden when it comes to energy. »

Researchers have also highlighted that when energy costs rise, the solutions for seniors are not as simple as managing their money better or finding another job. According to them, few new positions are being created for people over 55, for example in the United States.

“Low-income seniors face significant barriers to reducing their carbon footprint and managing their energy bills due to limited cash flow, physical limitations and the fact that they live in older and more energy-intensive homes,” Professor underlined Laixiang Sun, also co-author of the research work.

“Lack of information, difficulties adapting to new technologies, and prioritizing healthcare and other spending over less energy-intensive investments all exacerbate this problem. »

Significant expenses

Using household spending surveys, researchers found that the burden of energy costs was greater among people aged 60 and over than in three other age groups, namely people aged 30 and over, 30-44 year olds and 45-59 year olds. .

In the United States, energy accounts for 12.7% of seniors’ spending, compared to 11.3%, 10.9%, and 10.6%, respectively, among other groups.

In Japan, energy consumes an even larger share of the seniors’ budget, namely 15%, while for other groups it is more like 12.7%, 12.4% and 9.3% respectively.

Yet, without too many surprises, the researchers found that this impact is greater among the poorest seniors, at 16.9% for American seniors, compared to 17.1% among the same group in Japan.

These conclusions, the specialists write, complement the previous work of Professor Feng, who was interested in the consumption of older adults, including in the context of a study published in Nature Climate changewhich showed that adults aged 60 and over from industrialized countries increased their greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5% between 2005 and 2015, putting them in a position to capture the most “polluting” age group, 45 to 59 years to fetch.

According to the professor, the new findings make it more necessary than ever for political decision makers to get involved and tackle this problem; not only to help promote comfort for seniors, but also to combat the climate crisis.

“Although previous government policies included low-income people to reduce the impact of energy price increases, the challenges of poorer seniors have not received enough attention,” he says.

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