A desperate family has resorted to sleeping on cold tiles to avoid turning on their expensive air conditioning amid Australia’s cost of living crisis.
Karen and her son Connor, who is her caregiver, have been forced to take desperate measures to stay cool in the sweltering temperatures of south-west Sydney.
Connor admits that it’s more comfortable to put your pillow on the floor in the dining room than to sleep in your own bed on those muggy evenings.
His mother agrees that the 24-hour heat makes her feel like she’s going to get heat stroke, but she just can’t afford to turn on the air conditioning.
“The first year we used the air conditioner, the quarterly summer bill was about $800,” the mother-of-two told A Current Affair.
“That last bill, which made up most of the summer, was $380. We didn’t have that summer [the air conditioning] at once.’
Connor, from Sydney South West, admits it’s more comfortable laying your pillow and a fan on the cold dining room tiles than sleeping in your own bed at night
Karen uses ice cubes and cold washcloths kept in the freezer to cool off while Connor sits constantly under a portable fan.
He contributes to the bills for his carer’s pension, but it’s still not enough for mother and son to be able to afford the air conditioning.
This week temperatures in Sydney have rocketed to 39C on Monday and 37C on Tuesday and will remain in the low 30C over the weekend.
The average quarterly electricity bill in Australia is around $337.
In the 2020/21 financial year, electricity prices fell by seven percent, and by as much as nine percent in the previous year.
In fiscal 2022-23, electricity prices rose 18 percent, with forecasts that they will rise 23 percent in 2023-24.
Households already feeling the effects of the crisis took another hit on Tuesday after interest rates were hiked for the 10th straight month.
Karen uses ice cubes and cold washcloths she keeps in her freezer to cool off while her son Connor sits constantly under a portable fan and sleeps on cool tiles
The Reserve Bank of Australia raised interest rates to 3.6 per cent, with interest rates now rising at the most dramatic pace since 1988 and 1989.
Pradeep Philip, chief economic officer at Deloitte Access Economics, said the recent rate hike could trigger a recession and impact the cost of everyday spending.
“This puts further pressure on Australians while increasing the likelihood of an unnecessary recession,” he said.
Other good news is that up to 4.7 million welfare recipients will receive two big increases in their Centrelink benefits this month.
The increase is part of Centrelink’s twice-yearly indexation – a means of adjusting benefit payments for inflation – on 20 March and 20 September.
Pensioners, job seekers or students will receive a benefit increase of 3.7 percent in two weeks.
pension and allowance payments
As part of the twice-yearly indexation, pensions and allowances are set to increase on March 20.
Retirees and single and disabled caregivers receive an additional $37.50, bringing the 14-day rate to $1,064. Couples get an additional $56.40, bringing the fortnightly payment to $1,604. Payments for JobSeeker and ABSTUDY will increase by $24.70, bringing the fortnightly payment to $701.90 for single recipients over the age of 22 with no children. Parental dues will increase by $33.90 every two weeks to $967.90 for single parents. Commonwealth Rent Assistance is increased by $5.60 for singles, bringing the fortnightly payment to $157.20. Recipients with two children receive an additional $6.58 and receive $184.94 every two weeks. Families with three or more children receive an additional $7.42, bringing the fortnightly payment to $208.74.