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

Poor Aussies reveal their desperate measures to cut back on electricity – from showering just twice a week to sitting in the dark: ‘It’s not a life, it’s an existence’

  • High energy bills force retirees to forgo showers and meals
  • Some use solar-powered torches and lamps or just sit in the dark
  • Retirees call on governments to do more as they shiver with fear of using stoves
  • Warning issued earlier this week that retirees could ‘freeze to death’

Retirees skimp on meals, skip showers, and use solar-powered lights to cope with astronomical bills.

They have added their voices to calls for the government to do more, as crippling power prices sparked warnings that some retirees could ‘freeze to death’.

Retired Jeffrey O’Brien, 64, who lives in Sydney’s southern suburb of Caringbah, told Channel Nine he only had two showers a week because he was “afraid” of running up his hot water bill.

After paying the rent, Mr. O’Brien has just under $300 a week to live on, which in his own words made him rough with all the lights off while watching television most nights.

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

“I’m sitting here with coats on because I’m cold, with blankets on because I’m cold. If I take out my stoves, it will cost me too much money and I will go without meals.’

Retired Jeffrey O'Brien said if he had to live on just $300 a week, he would have to cut back on showers and not have a heating system without having to cut back on food.

Retired Jeffrey O’Brien said if he had to live on just $300 a week, he would have to cut back on showers and not have a heating system without 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 heating because of the electricity prices,” said Ms. Short.

She said that instead of turning on the lights at night, the couple used a flashlight and even turned off solar-powered lights during the day to charge for use at night.

Ms Short said her partner’s deteriorating health required the use of a sleep apnea device 12 hours a day and an electric recliner to aid in mobility, limiting their ability to save on electricity.

Retirees Jean and Terry Short find it so difficult to pay their utility bills that they have resorted to using an indoor flashlight at night or charging solar-powered lamps for dining by

Retirees Jean and Terry Short find it so difficult to pay their utility bills that they have resorted to using an indoor flashlight at night or charging solar-powered lamps for dining by

She called on the state government for more help.

“It really pisses me off and it’s gotten to the point where I won’t be quiet anymore. I’m going to say something because it will affect everyone,” said Mrs. Short.

“Spend a few nights here and see how it feels, you know. It’s getting cold in these houses.’

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

“There is NO justification whatsoever for Australia to ever be in an energy crisis. We cannot have a constant threat of power outages,” he wrote.

‘And retirees shouldn’t be afraid to turn on the heating. Without heating – some will freeze to death.’

Radio host Ben Fordham warned pensioners could 'freeze to death' from high electricity prices after interviewing a 93-year-old affected by the Sydney power outage on Monday night.

Radio host Ben Fordham warned pensioners could ‘freeze to death’ from high electricity prices after interviewing a 93-year-old affected by the Sydney power outage on Monday night.

Fordham wrote the post after an interview with 93-year-old Beryl from the Sydney suburb of Narraweena, who was hit by power outages on Monday night.

“I’m terrified at the thought of running out of heat,” she told Fordham the next morning.

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

Struggling coal-fired power stations and cold weather prompted authorities to advise residents of NSW and Queensland on Monday to turn off heating and household appliances to avoid the blackouts, which only affected Sydney’s northern beaches.

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

“No one is asked to turn off anything they need…certainly no one should turn off the heating or anything essential,” he told ABC radio.

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