A.H. is a single mother of a teenage daughter and small business owner who lives in Port Elgin. A has been self-employed for the past 30 years and is proud of her accomplishments in that time.
One thing that she has noticed happening at an alarming rate for the past 5 years is that everything she’s worked for is slowly being eroded by ever-increasing electricity rates. In order to stem the drain on her savings and keep the electricity on, she and her daughter have drastically reduced their standard of living to use as little power as possible.
They hand-wash most of their clothes and use foldable racks in the basement to dry the laundry. The clothes dryer is used for sheets and large items only. Certain appliances are off limits. The dishwasher hasn’t been used for months. The oven is never turned on. “I envision dollar bills being burnt up when the oven is used, so we just pretend it doesn’t exist.”
Neither one owns a cell phone, lap top or Ipad. They share the one computer.
At night before going to bed they do a sweep of the house to make sure nothing has been left plugged in. The stove, microwave, coffee maker, computer, cable box, tv are all unplugged when not in use.
Showers are limited to five minutes. They use an egg timer set on the bathroom counter to let them know when time is up. Hair dryers are out as well. She and her daughter often leave in the morning with wet hair.
The thermostat is never set above 50 (10C). In the morning when she gets up, she goes around the house and dries off the inside of the windows that are covered with condensation from keeping the heat so low.
“I’ve worked hard my whole life with the intention of retiring by the time I turned 60. There’s no way I could afford to do that now. Not in this province.”
As we’ve heard over and over, they don’t turn on the lights — ever. When they watch t.v. or are on the computer, they’re wrapped up in blankets or wear robes overtop of their clothes.
Even with all of this conservation, the hydro bill continues to climb. “We’re talking about leaving the province now. This can’t go on. I have friends who have moved out to the east coast and they keep telling me how cheap it is to live in New Brunswick. So that’s where we’ll probably head. I’ll just have to close up my business and maybe re-open it out there, but then I’ll have to build up a whole new clientele.”
She cries as she continues, “Our elected officials are supposed to be looking after our best interests, but the Liberal government has totally forsaken the people of this province. They just don’t care about the misery they have caused. I don’t understand the callousness of it all.”
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