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Cash-strapped pensioners reveal desperate measures to cut back on power as cost of living rises

Cash-strapped Aussies reveal their desperate measures to cut back on power – from only showering twice a week to sitting in the dark: ‘It’s not a life, it’s an existence’

  •  High power bills are forcing pensioners to forsake showers and meals
  •  Some are using torches and solar-powered lights or just sitting in the dark 
  •  Pensioners call on governments to do more as they shiver afraid to use heaters  
  • Warning issued issued earlier in the week that pensioners could ‘freeze to death’

Pensioners are skimping on meals, skipping showers and using solar-powered lights to cope with astronomical bills.

They have added their voice to calls for the government to do more as crippling power prices prompted warnings some pensioners could ‘freeze to death’.

Pensioner Jeffrey O’Brien, 64, who lives in the southern Sydney suburb of Caringbah, told Channel Nine he was only having two showers a week because he was ‘frightened’ of running up his hot water bill.

After paying rent, Mr O’Brien has a little under $300 a week to survive off, which he said left him rugged up with all the lights off just watching the television most nights. 

‘If I cut back any more I might as well not be here, it’s not a life, it’s an existence,’ Mr O’Brien said.

‘I sit here with jackets on cause I’m cold, with blankets on, because I’m freezing. If I get my heaters out, it costs me too much money and then I go without meals.’

Pensioner Jeffrey O’Brien said that living off only $300 a week meant he has to cut back on showers and can’t use any heating without then having to cut back on food

The reluctance to use heating was echoed by Jean and Terry Short, who are 65 and 72 respectively, and live in Central Beach, NSW.

 ‘We’re too scared to turn on the heater on because of power prices,’ Ms Short said.

 She said rather than turn on lights at night, the couple were using a torch and even putting out solar-powered lights during the day to charge up for use at night.   

Ms Short said that her partner’s deteriorating health required the use of a sleep apnea machine 12 hours a day and an electric sitting chair to help with mobility, which restricted their ability to cut back on electricity. 

Pensioners Jean and Terry Short are finding it so difficult to pay their power bills that they have resorted to using a torch inside at night or charging solar-powered lights to have dinner by

Pensioners Jean and Terry Short are finding it so difficult to pay their power bills that they have resorted to using a torch inside at night or charging solar-powered lights to have dinner by

She called on the state government for more help.

‘It makes me really angry and it’s gotten to the point where I’m not going to be quiet no more. I’m going to speak up because it’s going to affect everyone,’ Ms Short said.

‘Spend a couple of nights here and see how it feels, you know. It gets cold in these homes.’

Sydney-based radio host Ben Fordham warned on Tuesday that power prices and shortages were putting pensioners at risk.

‘There is NO justification for Australia to ever be in an energy crisis. We cannot have an ongoing threat of blackouts,’ he wrote.

‘And pensioners should not be scared about turning the heater on. Without heating – some will freeze to death.’

Radio host Ben Fordham warned pensioners could 'freeze to death' because of high power prices after interviewing a 93-year-old affected by the blackouts in Sydney on Monday night

Radio host Ben Fordham warned pensioners could ‘freeze to death’ because of high power prices after interviewing a 93-year-old affected by the blackouts in Sydney on Monday night

Fordham wrote the post after interviewing 93-year-old Beryl from the Sydney suburb of Narraweena, which was affected by power blackouts on Monday night.

‘I’m terrified of the thought of not having any heat,’ she told Fordham the next morning.

‘I just don’t know what I would do because I feel the cold terribly.’

Struggling coal plants and cold weather prompted authorities to advise NSW and Queensland residents on Monday to turn down heaters and switch off household appliances to avoid the blackouts, which only affected Sydney’s northern beaches.  

Despite admitting the energy grid was under a lot of pressure, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said no one should be denied necessities.

‘Nobody is being asked to turn off anything that they need… certainly nobody should be turning the heating off or anything that’s essential,’ he told ABC radio.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk