Housebound pensioner ‘can’t go upstairs’ as bedroom’s too cold after smart meter fails

A housebound pensioner has been forced to sleep on her sofa next to an electric fire in a bid to keep warm at night due to having no heating and no hot water for nearly a week.

Margaret Rees, 79, hasn’t slept in her bedroom for six days and instead sleeps with blankets and next to her pet dog on her living room sofa.

Margaret, who is largely housebound and uses a Zimmer frame indoors and a wheelchair when she ventures outside, has had no gas supply in her home since Monday.

She currently has no central heating, no hot water and limited means of cooking hot meals, Wales Online reports.

Her smart meter has stopped working and despite worried family members trying to fix the issue on her behalf, energy supplier SSE has so far been unable to fix the issue.

“It was Monday morning and I realised I didn’t have any gas,” said Margaret, who lives in Port Talbot. “They’ve put one of these smart meters in the house but I’ve started having issues with it.

“I’ve asked if I can switch to paying by direct debit but it’s as if they are forcing you to use these meters and I think they are doing it with a lot of older people.”

With winter fast approaching and temperatures dropping, Margaret is desperate to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“I have no heating, no hot water, nothing,” she said.

“I have an electric fire and I’m sleeping on the sofa in the lounge. I can’t go upstairs because it’s too cold.”

Margaret can’t cook in her home either and has needed to rely on the basics to get by over the past week.

“My son brought me round some chips for my dinner yesterday and I have a toaster so I can have a bit of toast,” she said.

Margaret has had the smart meter in her home for around a year and usually tops it up to pay for her gas supply. She normally does this by topping up her card at a nearby shop with the aid of one of her family members.

But there have been times where the smart meter was not topping up as it should have done, and Margaret grew increasingly frustrated and asked her supplier, SSE, if she could switch to a credit mode and pay by direct debit.

According to a message she received from the company this should have been actioned almost a month ago. The company said: “Hello, as requested, we’re remotely changing the mode of your Pay As You Go gas meter to credit mode. This will take place on September 18. An engineer does not need to visit your home.”

However, this has not been the case and her in-home display tells her she is £7.64 in debt, advising her to “please top up to reconnect your supply”.

Margaret’s daughter-in-law Nicola Jenkins explained: “She pays for her electric by direct debit and she wants to change to direct debit for her gas. They agreed to do that but there’s been no gas at all since Monday morning and we’ve been on the phone to the company since then.

“We were told it could take another 28 days to sort out. We’ve spoken to so many different people in so many different departments. One person said it would be back on within the hour, another said they would call us back within 20 minutes.

“We have no idea what’s going on. There’s no gas and we’ve been on the phone all the time.”

SSE has been approached for comment.