This cold snaps hits where it hurts: the back pocket

THIS cold snap is hitting Gold Coasters pretty hard – especially Gold Coasters like me, who don’t use heaters in our home.

Instead, we wear extra warm clothes, place double socks on our feet and drape a second doona over the bed at night; it’s not as delicious as falling asleep in a heated room with electric blankets warming us under-back, but it does the trick.

The reason we’re so thrifty with artificial heating?


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Simple: money.

Three years ago, our electricity bill over the winter quarter was respectable at $380. This included very mild heater usage, such as a couple of hours of heating the lounge to take the edge off on really chilly nights.

But then, our bills starting creeping up. And up.

Now, for the same winter quarter, for the same number of people in the home and lower electricity usage (no heaters any more), our bill has gone up. It arrived in the mail this week, announcing itself due at the princely figure of $717.

To recap: a few years ago, our electricity bills were around half what they are now, despite the fact that our usage has decreased.

How is this fair?!

We have thought long and hard about installing solar panels on our roof in an effort to save money, but it’s such a whopping initial outlay – plus, the government has now announced they’ll no longer be funding any rebates on household solar systems. Great stuff.

We really have to budget carefully to afford to live. Every fortnight, I set aside money in a separate ‘bills account’ so that when an eye-watering energy or rates bill arrives, we have enough set aside to pay it without eating two-minute noodles each meal for the week.

It makes me wonder how some residents – like pensioners – are coping with these out-of-control electricity prices. They receive a $7 per week “energy supplement”, which guarantees a hot shower or bath each day at least, but elderly people feel the cold far more than us younger folks when the mercury dips this low.

I guess we just have to be grateful we don’t live in an even colder climate. Speaking to a friend in Christchurch last night, I had the nerve to complain about how freezing the Gold Coast has been the last few days. “It was minus 6 degrees when I picked my parents up from the airport last night,” he commented.

A little perspective never hurts, does it.

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