An increasing number of Queenslanders are battling serious health issues because they cannot pay their electricity bills, according to the latest ACOSS/QCOSS 2024 Heat Survey.

Nearly 80 per cent of survey respondents said they struggled to pay for essentials like energy as well as food, medicine, and rent.

The survey also revealed 80% of the respondents found their homes got too hot during Queensland’s crippling summer, leading to heat stroke and potentially fatal consequences.

  • 78% of respondents reported feeling unwell in their homes.
  • 54% struggle to keep their homes cool because they do not have air conditioning or were too expensive to operate.
  • 12% sought medical attention for heat stress.

The survey found people were cutting back on using their stoves (40 per cent), air conditioning and fans (38 per cent), and home lighting (43 per cent) due to cost of living pressures.

Those with disabilities or chronic illness were more likely to be affected.

Many people refused to leave their homes or have visitors, exacerbating loneliness and other mental health issues.

“Some families have stopped using their stoves, opting for outside fire pits to boil the kettle,” QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh warned.

“In 2024, there’s no reason why any Queenslander should get harmfully hot. But more Queenslanders die or get injured because of heatwaves than any other extreme weather event.”

A record 23,000 Queensland households are signed up to a hardship program with their providers.

One of the respondents, Donna, who lives at Redcliffe, survives on a disability support pension.

Her power bill recently increased to $120.00 a month.

She lives alone in a complex on a ground floor to help cope with her disability and said it can become stifling in Queensland’s humid heat.

“I’ve been living on the pension, which is it’s getting harder and harder and harder,” Donna said.

“I reckon I’m one rent rise away from being homeless, because roughly 65 per cent of my income is going toward my rent. I will spend the day literally on my bed with a spray bottle of water next to me and I’ll just spray the mist water over me and have the ceiling fan on.

“I just feel nauseated, it wipes me out and it feels like I’ve been hit by a bus.

“It’s just so frustrating because what quality of life is that?”

Donna has a portable air conditioner, but said it was too expensive to run on her pension.

The ACOSS/QCOSS Heat survey found 27% of respondents currently have an energy debt or consider one to be imminent.

21% of respondents had borrowed from a family member or friend to pay their bill while 22% of respondents had sold something for cash to pay it.

QCOSS is calling on the State Government to ensure Queenslanders on low incomes receive ongoing electricity rebates and access to energy efficiency and renewable grants.

“It’s only fair that all Queenslanders should have a cool place to go in our harsh Sunshine State,” Ms McVeigh said.

Read the 2024 Heat Survey Queensland Snapshot here.

21 March 2024