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The Cost of Cold


Age UK

Subject Keywords: Why we need to protect the health of older people in winter
Topic: Fuel Poverty
Fuel Poverty
Type: Report
Region: United Kingdom

Winter brings many challenges for us as we get older – dark days mean people get out less, and ice and snow can increase the fear and risk of falling. But research shows that cold is the biggest killer.

Age UK has released this new report ‘The Cost of Cold’. It highlights the fact that each winter there are around 27,000 additional deaths in England and Wales, the vast majority among older people.

For each death, there are many more people who become seriously ill, needing hospitalisation in the short term and possibly social care in the longer term. Age UK’s new analysis finds that the cost to the NHS in England from cold homes alone is likely to be around £1.36 billion a year.

Every death or serious illness is a personal tragedy for the individual and family involved – and these deaths are largely preventable. Other colder countries such as Finland have significantly lower death rates, due to better insulated homes and greater awareness of the need to keep warm.

At the root of the problem of excess winter deaths are cold, badly insulated homes. People living in the coldest homes are three times more likely to die from cold-related illness than those living in warmer homes. The average cost of making a property energy efficient is just £7,500 whereas the cost of keeping an older person in hospital is estimated at £1,750-£2,100 per week.




Rights: © Age UK
Suggested citation:

Age UK. (2012) The Cost of Cold [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 19th October 2019].


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