Cash-strapped families are being forced to switch off their electricity for several hours at a time due to soaring utility bills caused by energy-sapping storage heaters.
Caroline Keenan, a mother of two and resident of Longford County Council-owned Sli Na Mona housing estate in Ballymahon said she cannot turn on her heating system for fear of what ESB bills may come through the post each month.
“We can’t put our storage heaters on at all because if we do we wouldn’t be able to pay for it. We had an ESB bill for €857 not too long ago. It’s just got to the stage where I just feel like ripping it (storage heater) out altogether,” she stated.
Ms Keenan said she contacted an independent company with a view to replacing her home’s storage heater, but was quoted over €4,000.
“I am three years here, my partner is five years in the estate and suffers from gout so this (storage heater problem) is not helping,” she added.
“The only thing we have downstairs is the open fire and if it is cold in the kitchen I have to turn on the tumble dryer.”
Ms Keenan said she also arranged for an engineer from Longford County Council to examine the house for dampness after she became concerned at the state of one of her bedroom ceilings.
“It (bedroom) is pure black and we can’t turn on the heater,” she said. “He (engineer) told me it was because the child’s breathing was causing condensation. I just laughed at him it was that ridiculous.”