A woman from North Wales has resorted to lighting her home with battery-operated fairy lights to save money on bills amid the energy crisis. The Anglesey pensioner, who did not wish to be named, said the money-saving hack has made a huge difference to her electricity bills.
Following the energy price hike which came into force on April 1, experts have predicted that thousands of people in Wales will be plunged into fuel poverty. Concern is growing for older people in particular, as soaring energy bills are set to put further strain on households already struggling.
But a pensioner living in Benllech says she has made all-important savings by switching to battery power. She told North Wales Live: “At night I do not have any of the lights on, I just put the fairy lights all around the living room and in the bedroom.
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“When I go to bed, I’ve got a battery operated lamp, which I use rather than a plug-in light, to keep the costs down. Especially with the prices as they are at the moment, I’ve noticed a big difference in my bills. It’s a marked difference. “
The woman, who is in her 70s, said she started using battery-operated lights three years ago. She said: “I’ve been doing it for years now and I’ve noticed a big difference. I’m not talking pennies. I’ve saved a lot on electric since I started doing this.”
She continued: “At the moment I pay £ 3.99 for 12 batteries – that’s much cheaper than switching the lights on. I’m not a skinflint but I object to unnecessary bills and I think other people could benefit from it too.
“Especially when you’re a pensioner, you do not have any extra money coming in so you have to work with what you’ve got. I use oil for heating and I was horrified when I got a quote and saw the price had doubled since last time. The prices just keep going up. “
Welsh charity Care & Repair (Gofal a Thrwsio) visited the woman’s home earlier this year as part of their 70+ Cymru project, which aims to help older people cope amid the rising cost of energy. Tina Williams, Home Energy Officer on Anglesey, said: “We went to visit this lady to see how we could help her save money on her bills.
“When I went there, I noticed the fairy lights everywhere and she told me she uses them from 7 o’clock every night to save on her electricity bills – she does not have any other lights on apart from them. With the home energy crisis we haven’t got a magic wand but part of my role is to look into the grants or funding that can help people cut costs down.
“Even simple things like putting something under the door to stop heat escaping, can make a difference to vulnerable people. We find that elderly people are entitled to things, but because they’re not on the internet, they’re missing out on things that can really help them. “
A major piece of advice being given by Care & Repair to older people in Wales is to make sure to claim the benefits you are entitled to. According to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, over £ 200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year.
Benefits can be claimed by those who are disabled or are being cared for. Care & Repair say this is vitally important as the energy crisis will be worse for those who have health difficulties or are disabled, as they are more likely to spend significant time at home and use their heating more often.
Chris Jones, CEO of Care & Repair Cymru, said: “The energy price rise could have a devastating impact on older people, who are already disproportionately affected by fuel poverty. We know that dementia, arthritis, and osteoarthritis are all exacerbated by the cold.
Coming off the back of the pandemic, the rise in energy bills will be just too much for some. That’s why Care & Repair’s 70+ Cymru project is helping older loved ones stay warm and safe at home while keeping their bills down. ”
For vulnerable, older, and disabled people in Wales there is support available via the 70+ Cymru project, which aims to improve the warmth, comfort, and quality of life for people on low incomes. Care & Repair caseworkers are visiting homes and providing free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements and working to find ways to keep homes safe and warm for older people.
Care & Repair’s 70+ Cymru service is available to anyone in Wales aged 60 or over who owns their own home or privately rents. To find out more about how Care & Repair can help go to www.careandrepair.org.uk/mybills or phone 0300 111 3333.