I use a hair dryer to warm myself up because I can’t pay my energy bills
A WOMAN has used a hair dryer to heat herself up by blowing it up under a blanket as she struggles to pay her sky-high energy bills.
Catherine Geddes, 28, was forced to take the extreme measure after soaring fuel prices made her “anxious” to turn on her heating.
Catherine, from Keighley, West Yorks., Said: “I wrap myself in blankets, take the hairdryer and run the heat under the blanket to create a cocoon of warmth.
“I’m the queen of blankets. I put on a couple of blankets especially when it’s cold like it has been this week.”
She became homeless at 16 and has no family to rely on – and has lived in housing association housing for four years.
But she said she felt like “just surviving” as she struggled to afford the heat for even an hour a day.
She spoke as the north of England was in the throes of a cold snap with nighttime temperatures plunging near zero.
The 28-year-old added: “I have been homeless since I was 16 and have been in five psychiatric wards.
âI don’t really have stability. I very rarely turn on the heating, very rarely. It’s just too expensive.
âWhen you just turn on the kettle, the smart meter goes up very quickly. I am constantly looking at the smart meter and am anxious about the cost.
“We get winter fuel payments, but my house has electricity and gas, so I have to use electricity to use my boiler, so it’s redundant.”
Catherine suffers from bulimic anorexia, which makes it harder for her body to keep in heat.
She also suffers from mental health problems and her only source of income is the Employment Support Allowance and her Personal Independence Allowance.
The 28-year-old is just Â£ 100 left after paying her bills, which she has to spend on groceries, which has also seen prices skyrocket.
Catherine added: “It’s just a nightmare. It’s exhausting, you feel like you can’t do anything, I just feel trapped.
âI don’t really have a family to rely on. I feel like I’m surviving.
âI’m on a prepaid electricity meter and it charges me 26p a day. If I had a quarterly bill, I would pay less.
“I ended up in hospital after having a mental health crisis and didn’t pay my electricity bill so they take Â£ 3.70 off me every week.”
HAIR DRYER TREATMENT
âI put Â£ 10 a week on gas and electricity, it lasted me most of the week but since the price hike it’s been going so much faster.
“It only lasts until about Thursday now, so I have to top it up.”
Catherine fears her fate is not unique – and that other families may be plunged into poverty as soaring prices and benefit cuts crush the poorest in society.
Charity Fuel National Energy Action predicts that when home energy prices rise in April, the typical home gas bill will have doubled in 18 months.
Catherine added: “I did not get the Â£ 20 increase for universal credit, but this reduction will push so many families into poverty.
âThe prices of food, electricity and gas are going up, it’s really scary for people.
âMost of the people on universal credit have jobs, which will put so many working people in poverty.
“Home insulation needs to be done properly and I think the benefit system is a lifeline and should be celebrated like the NHS.”
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