‘There are icicles on the taps’: living in a home without central heating

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Icicles sometimes appear in the bathroom, and an old television is used as a source of heat in the flat that Lisa Appleton, 48, shares with her friend in Fallowfield, Manchester.

Appleton is one of the more than 700,000 people in England and Wales who live in homes without central heating. Her home’s only real heat sources are two oil-filled radiators and an electric wall heater. “It’s been cold to the point where there are icicles appearing on the taps,” she said.

Appleton’s flatmate took her in when she was made homeless. “He’s a friend I met through work,” she says. “He took me in when I needed him. I was only supposed to be here six months but it’s just gone two years. He’s my knight in shining armour.”

Their electric bills have increased from £50 to £200 in the past two years. “We only have the TV on, we boil the kettle when we have to and put in as little water as we can.”

Appleton says the old TV that sits in the living room has become another heat source. “I’m old school, I’ve been using blankets, hot-water bottles and sleeping bags to keep warm,” she says. “I remember doing that as a kid back in the 80s, so to be having to do that again now, you think: what the hell is going on in the world?”

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Appleton works at a local arts venue where she describes her role as a “jack of all trades”. “I work in the cafe, I clean and I steward.” She works in the daytime while her flatmate works nights. “We work out the sleeping arrangement. I usually sleep in a camp bed.”

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They use one radiator to keep the flat warm. “That to heat a one-bedroom flat is not enough,” she says.

The lifting of the energy price cap is “going to put people over the edge”, Appleton says. “[The government] need to sort out the situation and get the energy companies to agree to a lower rate or take it out of their own pocket, because they earn enough, don’t they.”

She adds: “I don’t even know what half of [MPs] do. Obviously, the prime minister, the health secretary and cabinet, I understand what they do, but the rest, no clue. And they can earn for second houses and second this and that and you think: why is that fair? You’re already earning enough.”

Appleton says the next few months are “gonna be tough but I’m a survivor. I’ve seen too many people giving up and I ain’t giving up.”

She says: “I feel sorry for all the homeless people on the street. At least I’ve got a roof over my head. It might not be the warmest roof, but it’s a roof.”

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