Pensioner too scared to turn on gas heating due to cost curls up with dog to stay warm

A pensioner has been forced to cuddle up with her dog on the sofa because of rising gas prices.

Lyn Joseph, who suffers from the respiratory condition COPD, has kept her heating off over fears about mounting bills.

Instead, the 76-year-old relies on a small portable heater and her Yorkshire Terrier to keep warm, the Daily Record reports.

Lyn, from Perth, Scotland, heads straight to bed after eating her dinner as she worries about heating the rest of her flat.

Her attempts to get a smart meter to show exact usage were hampered by a web of delays, requirements and eligibility checks.

Lyn’s COPD and brittle bones mean she needs to keep warm more than most people.

The retired Co-op worker has been living in her flat for five years.

She originally used storage heaters to fend off the cold, however they worked out to be too expensive. She had partial gas heating and hot water installed in her home in February.

She told the Perthshire Advertiser: “I just heat my front room with a halogen heater. I don’t heat the kitchen. It’s not good for my mental health and I feel pretty dispirited, but I go straight to bed after I’ve had my evening meal, I worry about heating the rest of the flat.”

Keen to use her heating sensibly given the cost rises, she asked a gas engineer to put in a smart meter. But because she lives in flats, there were various cables from other tenants which meant it would be hard to isolate her gas usage.

The British Gas representative sent out told her she’d first need an electrical call out from OVO (SSE’s domestic arm) to wire the meter correctly as there were a number of cables. But that proved a minefield for the pensioner to work out alone.

“I spent 41 minutes getting nowhere on the telephone to SSE’s customer helpline,” she said.

“They told me there was no way an electrical engineer could be booked to take a look for 28 days or more.

“I was stunned. Without the electric people coming to get the box wired up right, there could be no gas meter for me.

“A month’s wait minimum is a long time to wait to just get the first stage of the process done. Bills are going up now.

“They wouldn’t send anyone till November at the earliest. The SSE/OVO call handlers said things like ‘we will have to see if you are eligible.’

“They had me on the phone for nearly an hour, saying there were not enough engineers in Perth to come over to me. I hung up, exhausted with nothing arranged.”

When the PA took up Lyn’s case with OVO they took action and sent an electrical engineer round on Wednesday to size up the cable problem.

The upshot is she’s been speed tracked to get the the electrical adjustment so she can go back to British Gas and ask for a smart meter.

OVO is due to send an engineer to fix the wiring problem today.

“I phoned to say thank you to the PA for speeding up the engineer visit,” said Lyn yesterday.

“It is still all very hard for me to understand. It looks like now I will be able to get a meter that shows me my gas usage.

“It still is going to cost a lot to stay warm this winter but at least I’m less likely to get surprised when the bill comes. Also I have been shown how to use the SSE app that lets me take electric meter readings and makes it easier to understand my electric usage.”