Bill shock and cheating the chill
Feeling the cold lately? It’s certainly starting to bite at my draughty old house with temperatures dropping into the low teens for those of us in the city and below zero in a number of regional areas of NSW.
Apart from that old standby of putting on another layer of clothing or taking a run around the block to keep warm, most of us are relying on heaters of all shapes, sizes and fuel types to keep the chill at bay.
And it’s about this time of year that the first heating bills start to hit the letter box, which can come as a rude shock, especially for those on low or fixed incomes.
I watched recently as a young woman I know, who is supporting herself while studying, went into a panic after the bill came in for heating the rental property she shares with a couple of friends.
After eliminating the possibility that the gas heater keeping them warm was leaking — they’d probably already be dead if that was the case — they had to face up to the knowledge that the bill was indeed genuine and would indeed have to be paid.
Given we still have a good month before temperatures start to lift, they also have to work out how they’re going to keep themselves warm without creating another whopper bill.
In some ways, though, they’re the lucky ones. They’ve found somewhere to rent that they can afford with enough space for them all to work and study.
In recent weeks I’ve noticed the growing piles of blankets and sheets of cardboard on the streets in Sydney and wondered how those without a permanent place to sleep are managing in this weather, not just at night but during the day when icy winds are tearing down the street.
Sometimes a warm home is a luxury.
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