Cutting home heating to save

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Winter’s chill is hitting some South Canterbury residents hard financially, prompting them to remain cold in a bid to save money.
Although it was not known exactly how many people were turning off heating devices, Heartlands Fairlie co-ordinator Anne Thomson knows some were.
‘‘We’ve been noticing people with heat pumps turning them off to save power,’’ she said.
‘‘I know people in the town who have done that.’’
Last week, the district experienced some of the coldest days of the winter so far. This included snow falling to sea level in some areas.
The wintry conditions carried on into this week with almost -10degC at Lake Tekapo and Fairlie on Monday morning, MetService readings showed.
MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said cool temperatures looked set to continue.
Below average temperatures were forecast for the South Island throughout August, along with ‘‘relatively unsettled’’ weather for the east of the island.
In preparation for the cold days ahead, Ms Thomson encouraged people to leave their heat pumps on and to look out for each other, especially elderly neighbours.
She also suggested people who could avoid going out before noon should do so, to give footpaths time to defrost.
Heartlands staff have been delivering soup to people in the area as part of the Fairlie Aged Forum, so people in need had something hot to eat.
Last week, the initiative helped about 90 people.
‘‘The thing is, that’s how we find out about the heating,’’ Ms Thomson said.
‘‘We had a -10C frost this morning, so if we are going to have more of that [people need to keep warm].’’
Her advice was not limited to the elderly. Younger people needed to prepare themselves too and look after their general health, she said.
Timaru District Council emergency management adviser Lamorna Cooper said it was important people looked after their neighbours during serious weather events and had an emergency kit set up and easily accessible.
‘‘It would pay to check your batteries are not past their expiry date for the radio and you’ve got ways to keep yourself warm,’’ she said.
‘‘There are already predictions that August is going to be a cold month, [so] this is possibly just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got another three to four weeks where conditions could be cold and pretty miserable.
‘‘It’s conditions that can stress people — it’s a stressful situation for some people and it pays to make sure other members of your family are OK and if you’ve got elderly neighbours, just look in on them because often they don’t ask for help.’’