Harmful Energy Use Patterns In Senior Citizens (And How To Fix Them)


Do you know what is common between unforeseen wildfires, heat waves, heavy downpours, and unusually cold winters? Well, they are all effects of global warming. 

Caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, several human activities are to blame for it. An increase in carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of global warming, and 40% of it comes from electricity production.

Not just that, most human activities in today’s time end up consuming a lot of energy and lead to the deterioration of the atmosphere. There is a growing concern about this extreme energy usage. 

However, a study found that consumption will only rise and be up by 60% in 2040 as compared to 2010.

If we were to analyze the consumption of energy as per age, the senior citizens would win the race hands-down. If there is an even more startling fact, it is that they are doing it unknowingly. 

Let’s try to understand this trend in detail and also examine a few methods to avoid this harmful energy use pattern.

Residential Buildings And Housing

Do you know that residential buildings consume the most amount of energy in the world? Yes, that’s right. In fact, they account for 40% of the world’s energy consumption.

Younger adults have lower incomes and hence, live in smaller houses or apartments. Moreover, they have other priorities like the education of their children and retirement funds that take precedence. 

Senior citizens, on the other hand, have a lifetime of savings and are free from most financial commitments.

Most of them prefer to live a comfortable life, and some of them even move to the countryside to enjoy a quiet life. Due to these reasons, their houses are also bigger and end up consuming more energy. 

The more frills that a home has, like a swimming pool or a jacuzzi, the higher is this consumption. Other than that, most of them have hung their boots and stay at home enjoying their retirement life. 

In such scenarios, the energy consumption increases as either the heating system or the air conditioning are mostly on.

Catching Up With Age

The human body starts to wear down with age, and so senior citizens are more vulnerable and need special care. 

Not only are they more susceptible to a heat stroke, but one such incident can make them seriously ill. Instead of venturing out during summers, doctors advise them to stay in the comfort of their homes.

Similarly, the extreme cold weather that America is witnessing in the last few years is doing nobody any good. It is particularly harsh on senior citizens. 

Furthermore, certain medications impair their body’s abilities to auto-regulate the temperature.

Their bodies don’t support them as they would like to. Most of them become dependent on electric wheelchairs, power scooters, or other mobility aids that are again powered by energy.

Lesser Maintenance Of Their Houses

Every house requires frequent maintenance to ensure energy efficiency. Many young people have started investing in it for the health of the planet. Moreover, it also becomes easier on the pocket in the long term.

When it comes to senior citizens, they are mostly not in the right physical shape to get such repairs done. They could also be using their decades-old appliances that consume more energy. 

In such instances, all the conservation methods used by power companies such as Genie Energy may fail.

A part of this also happens because of a reduction in their cognitive abilities. As they lose their judgment capabilities, they may not be able to make the right decisions.

What Next?

Is there a way to reduce this disproportionately large consumption of energy by the older citizens?

The National Population Projections conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau targeted 2035 as a milestone year for the U.S. It is the year when the population of the elderly will outnumber children for the first time. 

It estimated that America would have 78 million Americans in the age group of 65+ that year vs. 76.7 million younger than 18.

In such a scenario, we have a moral responsibility to nip this issue in the bud and adopt more energy-efficient ways. Here is how we can control energy consumption in the country.

Involve The Elderly In Energy Conservation Initiatives

As per statistics available, the senior citizens are not much involved in environment-related drives and organizations. 

The reason is not necessarily an aversion from their side. In fact, they have seen climate change happen in front of them.

Probably, they are not aware of how they are unintentionally adding to the energy load. With awareness drives, they may be keen to explore other options. 

For instance, more of them may warm up to senior citizen community centers instead of living on their own. At the very least, they may understand the need to reduce the usage of their HVAC units. 

They will understand how a simple act of moving their chair to a warm sunny corner in the house can make a difference in energy consumption. 

More Energy-Efficient Housing Units

The time has come to harness the potential of solar power in residential housing. Not only does it reduce the energy overload on the planet, but it is also more economical.

Besides, solar-powered apartment buildings are also much safer. During natural disasters like hurricanes, local authorities prefer a blackout to reduce the damage. However, blackouts can be fatal for the elderly.

For instance, when they are in a highrise and stay on the higher floors, the unavailability of elevators can be a hazard to their lives. Similarly, they may not be able to charge their power scooters or electric wheelchairs. 

Solar-powered buildings will ensure that they get time to move out and take the necessary precautions.

Simple Energy-Saving Tips

Who doesn’t like to save money, right? Here are a few easy tips with which the senior citizens can save on their energy bills.

  • Replacing conventional incandescent light bulbs with CFLs
  • Changing the filters of HVAC systems before every season
  • Using a room heater instead of heating the entire house
  • Laundering your clothes in cold water instead of warm water
  • Covering the cracks in the walls and windows
  • Use the right energy plans, such as the ones offered by TXU Energy

Conclusion

Senior citizens have become major consumers of energy and unintentionally so. However, there is hope. All they need is a little nudge and thoughtful planning from the authorities for a greener planet.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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