Pensioners afraid to use heaters as power bills surge
THE new financial year's $200 electricity price hike is dimming future hope for Sunshine Coast pensioners.
Pastor Dale Dowler of The Shack drop-in centre in Nambour said elderly Coast people were afraid to use heaters for fear of the extra power costs.
"We turn up to visit mum and dad and they've got more than one blanket over their legs and they're scared to put the heater on," he said of his own parents.
"I'm sure there's a lot of families on the Coast who are subsidising their parents.
"There's an element of shame, an element of embarrassment."
He said it was singles, couples and families hurting.
"There is a little increase (in people getting help from The Shack) lately, and it's probably coupled with the higher energy use of winter."
Queenslanders can expect the average power bill to rise by $191, or 13.6%, put down to green policies and the increasing cost of poles, wires and electricity generation.
However, if the Federal Government's carbon tax is repealed prices will only rise by about 5.1%.
Aged pensioner Delveen Chandler said the increases in costs were becoming overwhelming."With the cost of living rising rapidly, it's hard enough to make ends meet," she said.
"A rise like that definitely makes a difference to my day-to-day living.
"I can't afford to live, and I can't afford to die if I can't afford to bury myself."
The Ipswich resident, on the Sunshine Coast to look after a friend's house, said that just $2 means a lot to a pensioner.
"Whether (the electricity price increase is) five or 13%, it will be devastating for people," she said.
"It's the person at the bottom of the pecking order that is mostly suppressed (when these decisions are made)."
Are you worried about the rising cost of electricity?
This poll ended on 12 July 2014.
Definitely. I turn everything off unless it’s essential.
I keep a close eye on things without being too stressed.
I hadn’t thought about it … until now.
Not really. It’s only a few dollars a week.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
National Seniors Association Buderim branch president Graham Kruck said the association's push to prevent more cost of living increases had fallen on deaf ears.
"About two months ago we wrote to the Premier and (Minister for Energy) Mark McArdle and asked questions and were assured that we were cut to the bone," he said.
"We've done all we can do, you can't keep hounding them, but it's really going to hit hard."
Mr Kruck said the introduction of the 2012 carbon tax made a big impact on pensioners.
"Let's hope that the (carbon) tax will be abolished and that will at least give some relief," he said.
Their sentiments were echoed by other pensioners who live on the Coast but prefer to remain anonymous about how dire their situations are looking.
One man said the electricity hike is simply another fin
ancial concern to add to the list. "Any increase in any day-to-day costs makes a difference to pensioners," he said. "Even food prices here are astronomical compared to Sydney (where they used to live)."
One upside is that Queensland pensioners and seniors will now be able to apply for an annual electricity rebate of $320.97, representing an additional $38.43 compared with this time last year.
HOW TO SAVE
Power saving tips from the State Government:
It's a good idea to assess how much energy your household uses each day to decide which energy-saving actions will make the most difference.
This includes lifestyle, size and features of your home, the energy efficiency of appliances and choice of energy retailer
Often the biggest sources of energy use in winter around a home are hot water and heating
Simple ways to keep heat in, as an alternative to mechanical heating, includes sealing draughts around doors and windows with weather strips (only a few dollars a roll); opening curtains during the day to let in the sun and closing them at night to keep heat in; using rugs or carpets on timber or slab floors; consider double-glazing to insulate windows; dress to stay warm and put on a jumper before turning on the heater
An average household can use around a quarter of its total energy on heating water, so it's important to use an efficient system that suits your needs.
Reducing the amount of hot water you use and using a more efficient hot water system are great ways to reduce your energy costs and your impact on the environment
Go to yourenergysavings.gov.au to find out more