Yorkshire woman uses hairdryer to keep herself warm as rising fuel prices make her 'anxious' to put heating on

A young woman has told how she uses a hairdryer to keep warm by blasting it under a blanket as she struggles to pay her sky-high energy bills.

Catherine Geddes, 28, said she has started to take the extreme measure after rocketing fuel prices made her "anxious" to put her heating on.

Catherine, of Keighley, said: “I wrap myself in blankets, get the hairdryer and blast the heat under the blanket so it creates a cocoon of warmth. I put two or three blankets on especially when it’s cold like it has been this week."

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Catherine was made homeless at 16 and doesn't have family to fall back on. She has been living in a housing association accommodation for the past four years.

Catherine Geddes, of Keighley,

But she said she feels like she is "just surviving" as she struggles to afford to have the heating on even for just an hour a day. She spoke as the north of England was gripped in a cold spell with overnight temperature plunging close to zero.

She added: “I have been homeless from the age of 16 and have been in five psychiatric wards. I don’t really have stability. I very rarely put the heating on, very rarely. It’s just too expensive.

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“When you just put the kettle on, the smart meter goes up very fast. I’m constantly looking at the smart meter and living in a state of anxiety about the cost. We do get a winter fuel payments, but my house is electricity and gas, so I need to use electricity to use my boiler, so it's redundant."

Catherine has been living in a housing association accommodation for the past four years.

Catherine has bulimia anorexia, which makes it harder for her body to keep warmth.

She also suffers from mental health conditions and her only source of income is Employment Support Allowance and her Personal Independence Allowance.

She is left with just £100 after paying her bills, which she has to spend on food shopping, which has also seen soaring prices.

Catherine added: “It’s just a nightmare. It’s draining, you feel like you can’t do anything, I just feel trapped. I don’t really have family to fall back on. I feel like I’m just surviving. I’m on a pre-paid meter for electricity and it charges me 26p per day. If I was on a quarterly bill, I’d pay less.

“I ended up in hospital after a mental health breakdown and didn’t pay my electricity bill so they take £3.70 off me every week. I put £10 a week in both gas and electricity, it used to last me the full week almost but since the price increase, it goes so much more quickly.

“It only lasts until about Thursday now so I’m having to top it up."

Catherine fears her plight is not unique and that other families will be plunged into poverty as rocketing prices and benefit cuts squeeze the poorest in society.

Fuel charity National Energy Action predicts that when domestic energy prices rise in April, the typical domestic gas bill will have doubled in 18 months.

Catherine added: “I didn’t get the £20 uplift for Universal Credit, but that cut is going to push so many families into poverty. Food prices, electricity and gas are going up, it’s really scary for people.

"Most people on universal credit are in work, so it will put so many people in work into poverty. Insulation in houses needs to be done properly and I believe the benefit system is a lifeline and should be celebrated like the NHS."