High price of staying warm
GLENDA Gilham knows people who are wrapping themselves in sleeping bags this winter because they can’t afford to switch on heaters or electric blankets.
The Warwick Salvation Army welfare officer said many older residents and working families were struggling to pay rising electricity costs.
“People are cutting back on electricity usage because they are terrified of what their power bill will be,” Mrs Gilham said.
“I know some who are too worried to even turn on a heater or an electric blanket.”
Her comments come in the wake of the latest announcement by the Queensland Competition Authority warning of a 6.6% rise in electricity prices during 2011-12.
The QCA predicted the increase would cost Queenslanders an extra $29.39 on the average $445 per quarter electricity bill.
Rose City local Barb Fischer opened her electricity account yesterday to find it had risen $100.
“It is extraordinary. I don’t know how it can be so much more,” she said.
“We have gone from a four-person household to a three-person household, so our usage has dropped, but our bill has gone up.”
Likewise Charlotte Ahrendt has a wood heater and switches every appliance off at the wall, but still electricity costs her family of five more than $500 per quarter.
“We were even away for a few weeks on holidays, but it made no difference.
“Our power bill keeps going up,” Mrs Ahrendt said.
“I have tried turning everything off.
“My friends say the same thing – everyone’s bills are increasing.”
Pensioner Margaret Morris worries about the region’s older residents.
She said she knew many retirees who were cutting back on groceries to pay rising living costs such as electricity.
The price hikes have put extra pressure on places such as the Salvation Army’s Grafton St shop.
“These are troubled times and demand has been so great lately we are now desperate for more blankets and winter clothing,” Mrs Gilham said.
Electricity costs are expected to jump by 6.6% during 2011-12, equating to a $29.39 rise per quarter on an average $455 bill