This is Kat's Story Part 2. Click here to read Kat's Story Part 1: "This is the coldest house I’ve ever lived in."
I ask Kat what it's been like to live here in winter. She describes a life organised around efforts to keep warm.
"I'm almost in pain from the cold all the time."
"When my hands are really cold, I can't turn things on. I'm always worried I might cut myself or something because I lose a bit of feeling in my hands when it’s that cold."
Kat wears two jumpers in the early evening while sitting in the lounge room – the small room heated by two different heaters. Her only respite at night is having a hot shower and going to bed early. She goes to sleep early to avoid using too much energy keeping warm at night but even in bed she needs to keep a heater on. Otherwise, her room gets so cold the quilt feels damp to touch when she wakes up. She never slept with the heater on before living here.
Cold weather impacts our health. It's well-established, but difficult to self-report. Kat tells me, "I haven’t been getting colds for ten years, and I've been quite sick since coming here." She thinks it's probably connected. "Your body is putting energy into fighting to keep warm, instead of fighting off germs."
Kat is worried her first energy bill is going to be bad, because she uses her heater so often. It really frustrates her. She doesn't want to use that much energy in such a small house, but she feels she has no other choice. As soon as the heater goes off, all traces of heat disappear – and she just can't cope with the strain of being cold all the time.
Kat is also paying a huge portion of her income to rent this place. It seems to me she's paying even more than that. All her spare time and energy is spent battling the cold in a home which is supposed to provide shelter from the elements.
It seems so unfair to me - renters are paying so much, and getting so little in return.