EXCLUSIVE: Diane Skidmore, 71, admits her home leaves all her visitors shivering and her family worried she’ll get pneumonia, but she can’t afford to pay her rising energy bills
Image: Tim Merry)
Grandmother Diane Skidmore’s flat is so bitterly cold her grandchildren can’t even visit.
The 71-year-old admits her home leaves all her visitors shivering and her family worried she’ll get pneumonia. But Diane says these are the lengths she has to go, to keep those rising energy bills down.
The mum-of-six and gran to seven, has seen her energy bills soar by 50% in recent months from £40 to £66.
Speaking from her frosty ground floor flat in Tulse Hill, South London, she said: “A neighbour came in yesterday and I noticed she was shivering.
“I said ‘I’m really sorry. Let’s move into the living room’, where the temperature was not much different but the sun was shining in.”
The Mirror is calling for VAT on energy bills to be scrapped as rocketing prices look set to push millions into poverty.
Former NHS worker Diane gets £600 to live on after her rent is paid from her state pension and is dreading the energy bill rises to come.
“I live in the cold. My hands are freezing at the moment. Quite often my nose is cold like a dog’s. My kids are worried I will get pneumonia.
“My daughters won’t bring the kids around because my house is so cold. They worry about me getting diseases or stuff too. “
Since the pandemic Diane only ventures out to get her prescriptions because she is asthmatic and has been shielding so does not spend any money on luxuries.
“I’m very worried the bills are going up because I can’t live any more frugally than I already live,” she explained. “I already don’t turn the heating on most days and I never ever turn the heating on at night.
“On the very coldest days I put it on at 4pm and put the kitchen timer on for half an hour. There is a cold patch around about 4pm.
“I’ve got a bath but I don’t do that a lot to be honest. I’m very low maintenance.
“I mostly eat vegetables. I’ve got a gas kettle because electric kettles take up so much energy.
“I’m just worried it’s going to be horrible. I have to have faith. I’m not the only one with trouble going on, they have to come up with a solution.”
Diane says she has tried other ways to heat her flat by blocking all the air vents and putting a big thick heavy curtain up but said it just causes condensation and black mould.
“But I refuse to moan about it because when I was young we didn’t have gas central heating, when it got cold you just put a jumper on or do some exercise,” she said.
But then admits: “At night it is very cold in here.
“At the moment it’s only one degree at night and I can feel my head and my nose are absolutely verging on damp. I have to go down the bed under the sheets to get warm.
“My old neighbour, who died, had a ‘noddy’ hat which he kept on all through winter. He used to sleep in it too.
“Maybe I should get a hat.”