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‘We moved into one room to cut energy costs’

We invited Irish Times readers to share their experiences on the rising cost of living.

As expenses increase, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government is looking at measures to “enable people to cope with the cost of living increases” and to protect disposable incomes “during this difficult time”.

Alongside a €100 support for utility bills that has already been announced, additional measures are being considered by Government to tackle rising costs.

This is a selection of readers’ responses. Add yours here.


The cost of living has greatly affected my family in a very negative way. We recently got an electricity bill for over €900. The price of food is rising faster then I have ever seen and unfortunately we are struggling to get by with our €500 weekly income. There is no extra money for clothing, holidays or savings this year. We are barely making our bills and have all moved into one room to cut down on energy costs. We sleep under three duvets and try and only do laundry during the evenings when the rate is cheaper.

My husband has recently started a new job which will bring our weekly income to about €600. However, with the cost of diesel, food, electricity and unpredictable expenditures (we just had to spend €800 on our car in order for it to pass the NCT ) it will be a real struggle for us to get by. We were able to save some money and get our grocery bill down by giving up meat but to be honest the Government needs to step in and raise the minimum wage to the living wage. People shouldn’t have to choose between heat and food. Something needs to change. Roxanne, Co Roscommon

My Bord Gáis bills for three people have been circa €400-500 per month during Covid-19. Nobody came to read the metre for two years but just before Christmas 2021 they came and read it and then without any warning whatsoever they charged me almost €5,000. They took my mortgage money from my bank account. No Email, no phone call, nothing. I almost had heart failure.Fiona, Co Dublin

I am a single parent working full-time with two children. We are a single income household and I don’t receive any other source of income, just my wage. As I am earning over the income limits to receive any kind of help, I am finding the cost of living extremely challenging. I think the Government have to look at new ways to support single parents.

My rent is €1,000 a month, I have applied for social housing only to be told I am over the income limits. I am on to my second fill of gas this winter which has cost me €1,300 so far. My savings are being depleted as I am having to dip into them way more frequently than I would like. It’s not fair, I am working hard and contributing to the economy. I am living from pay cheque to pay cheque. It’s very worrying and so disheartening. Without savings , I am too scared to think what could happen in the future if inflation keeps on rising.Anne, Co Cork


We have absolutely no grip on our cost of living right now. Rent has increased again and so did the electricity bill, food and even getting a simple take-away seems like a luxury now. The price of housing has gone up so no matter how much we try to save after paying everything we cannot afford a mortgage, even if we end up getting an approval, good luck getting a house with greedy investors and bid wars. We cannot even afford a car as you end up paying extra amount for parking on top of the atrocious rents.

There is no breathing space or opportunity to live without stress. It’s like someone is punching you from all directions. Giving back €100 is a nice gesture but it is like a lollipop handed to a kid to shut up for a while. We have worked hard to build our lives in here but packing our bags and leaving the country to settle somewhere less expensive seems tempting right now. Alisha, Co Dublin

Buying and owning a house as a single person it really struck me how financially disadvantaged I really was. The property, stamp duty, lighting, heating, maintenance, internet – these things all cost the same for a single person earning €70,000 as for a couple jointly earning €70,000 even though the couple has significantly more spending power. But that couple needs that extra money as the cost of childcare is essentially a second mortgage. The crèches need to charge these fees because their insurances is so high and they have to pay their staff a living wage.

Why is insurance so high? Because we have limited caps on personal injury claims and the actual costs of such claims (court fees, solicitors on both sides etc) is much more than the eventual pay-out. The Government could reduce VAT on day-to-day bills –they are not luxuries but essentials.As well as supplying additional funding for parents of small children to cover creche fees, reducing the stamp duty for single buyers and a reducing the property tax for single occupied homes. Catherine, Co Dublin

Energy and fuel prices are at the top of our increasing costs. This could be temporarily fixed if the Government would look at reducing the VAT on these items temporarily or as long as required. This would make a huge difference to many many households and businesses. Housing is the next big thing. We have been saving for years and have finally reached a position of financial stability and better wages, it was a long battle after the previous recession of getting ourselves up the ladder.

Now that we finally saved a deposit together, what we can get for our money is depressing. How about taxing empty properties? The Government could raise a high tax on all suitable living properties lying idle for more than a year. It will encourage owners to rent them out, sell them off, repurpose them or renovate them. If people don’t do any of the above, they will pay an empty property tax, which should be high. By all means, building should continue, but there are fixes available right now too that should be harnessed. Els, Co Louth

Like all households we have seen prices increases. Mainly energy but also utilities, groceries, waste collection and broadband. However, the one that has really annoyed me and has no justification is yet another increase for both house insurance and car insurance. This is despite assurances given by the industry to the Minister to pass on savings.

This is even more annoying as the insurance industry has had significant Government supports during Covid-19 and reduced claims due to new rules on the book of quantum. I have written to the minister providing examples as this is unjust enrichment and also flies in the face of commitments given by the industry last December. John, Co Meath

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Do water features like a pool, pond or fountains add value to a home?

He may be used to making a splash in politics. But now it seems that Boris Johnson will be able to do that closer to home, too.

This week, it was revealed that the former prime minister has been given permission to build a swimming pool in the garden of his £3.78 million Oxfordshire country home. 

A move which will doubtless provide a restful place to unwind, exercise and relax as he navigates post-political life.

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool 

But even if you don’t have deep pockets for such deep-water projects, it’s still possible to create the tranquil benefits of waterside living. 

Whether it’s through installing a hot tub, pond, or even decorative fountains. 

But, as our experts point out, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before splashing out…

Frequent attention

Introducing any kind of water feature to your garden requires some upkeep.

During the spring and summer, you’ll need to top up your water feature regularly to replenish water loss caused by evaporation. 

And there’s also the task of removing branches and leaves as well as pruning bushes nearby.

‘It’s also a good idea to give your water feature a thorough clean and add a wildlife-friendly algaecide or UV steriliser after cleaning,’ says Will Haxby, home and garden sales director at Haddonstone, which specialises in stonework ‘as this will prevent algae growth build-up caused by the warm conditions.’ 

When the temperatures drop, drain off water before the winter to protect your feature from frost. 

You’ll also need to clean the pump to remove any limescale build-up.

Will it add value?

Installing features like fountains can add to the kerb appeal of your home, says Tabitha Cumming, a property expert at The Lease Extension Company, says: ‘This means that it will make a better first impression and potentially add value to your home.’

Amer Siddiq, founder and CEO at Landlord Vision, believes that water features such as fountains can have other benefits, too.

‘They can help mask unwanted noises from roads or neighbours. They can also attract birds and wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your surroundings.’

Andrew Landers, director at Property Rescue, a home-buying service, says: ‘The post-covid world has seen the importance of outside space massively increase, and any enhancements that make this space more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on the value of a home.’

Hidden costs

Factor additional costs into your budget, too, since water features rarely boil down to a single, one-off payment.

‘For example if any of your water features have fish, these can incur additional costs from the food and care that they will require, and you will also need to be vigilant to keep them safe from predators,’ says Cumming. 

Some features can cause structural issues, too. 

‘Fountains may become damaged through wear and tear or have cracks caused by water freezing over,’ she adds.

Beware risks

In summer, having a water feature will make you a magnet for friends and family who want to pop around and cool down. 

All of which, says Anna Giles, an associate at law firm Wedlake Bell, could increase scope for accidents

‘Homeowners should bear in mind that they could be subject to a claim for compensation if someone injures themselves at their property, so reasonable care needs to be taken to ensure that visitors and/or occupiers of the property will be safe.’

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Furious landlord hits out at family from HELL after forking out THOUSANDS to fix property: ‘I gave them charity and they treated my home like a doss house’

A landlord who rented out his 3-bedroom County Durham terraced house to a family on housing benefits has been saddled with thousands of pounds in repair damage after the tenants moved out leaving the property looking ‘like a s*******’.

University lecturer Paul Rostron, 57, from Swindon, rents out three small properties in County Durham to contribute to his children’s university fees and had previously been blessed with good, responsible tenants. 

Unfortunately Paul has now been saddled with thousands of pounds worth of repairs and cleaning after his old tenants treated his house like a ‘doss house’ and left  behind mountains of rotting furniture and rubbish. 

In shocking pictures, Paul’s cosy terraced family home is beyond recognisable replaced by layers of dirt, grime and filth. 

The carpeted floors are covered in dust and wrappers as well as discarded clothes and cardboard boxes. 

After three years of habitation Paul's tenants left his house looking like a bombsite

After three years of habitation Paul’s tenants left his house looking like a bombsite

The once immaculate garden has been treated like a personal dump for years

Prior to their tenancy, Paul had spent thousands of pounds making the house cosy for his lodgers

Prior to their tenancy, Paul had spent thousands of pounds making the house cosy for his lodgers

A distraught Paul told MailOnline he had been charging his tenants lower than market rate for the property

A distraught Paul told MailOnline he had been charging his tenants lower than market rate for the property

Speaking to the MailOnline a distraught Paul revealed he was shocked at how little care the tenants had paid to his property in the three years they’d lived there. 

Sharing pictures of the property before the tenancy started, the attention to detail that Paul and his team of decorators had done to ensure his tenants are well looked after is obvious. 

This though, he says, wasn’t meant to last. 

He explained: ‘The tenants moved in in 2020, at the start of the pandemic. 

‘They had the house entirely immaculate. The walls were freshly painted and we had new carpets in at the start of their tenancy.

‘They treated it like a doss house – I have no idea what they did there.’

Paul originally bought the property for £34,000 in 2020 but says that due to the area he has had to rent out properties often at cut prices – meaning that he will be making an overall loss with the repairs. 

A carefully manicured children's room was treated like a pigsty and left with broken appliances

A carefully manicured children’s room was treated like a pigsty and left with broken appliances 

Stained mattresses and broken beds were left leaning against the walls of the small room

Stained mattresses and broken beds were left leaning against the walls of the small room

Rotting piles of rubbish were abandoned in the sitting room along with detritus

Rotting piles of rubbish were abandoned in the sitting room along with detritus 

Cardboard boxes, children's toys and rubbish were littered across the conservatory

Cardboard boxes, children’s toys and rubbish were littered across the conservatory 

Paul was forced to spend thousands of pounds subjecting the house to a deep clean

Paul was forced to spend thousands of pounds subjecting the house to a deep clean

He explained: ‘The tenants were not able to pay the rent themselves so we got them the Universal Credit and got housing benefit to pay the rent

‘They were paying £380-a-month for a three bedroom terraced house. I was making a loss.

‘I was basically giving them charity and in return they treated my house like a s*******’

Since the nightmare renters moved out, Paul has been left to pick up the pieces. 

As well as deep cleaning the rancid property, Paul has had to personally make a host of costly repairs including outfitting the house with new carpets. 

He continued: ‘They moved out two weeks ago and we had to move three skips worth of rubbish out of the house. 

‘That cost over £1,000. . I’ve got to put new carpets in there as well.

‘As for the kitchen, it was disgusting, it made us all vomit so we had to get professional cleaning services in to do all the units and everything. 

‘The cooker was a shambles.

The carpets had rotted away so we had to replace them and have all the house painted all the way throughout.’

The toilet had never been cleaned and the bathroom was filled with waste products

The toilet had never been cleaned and the bathroom was filled with waste products 

Paul had intended to use the rent to help put his children through university

Paul had intended to use the rent to help put his children through university

Aside from the obvious disgust and inconvenience his tenants have caused him, the repair fiasco has left Paul in a lurch with his own children’s university fees – which he contributes to with his side earnings as a landlord. 

He said: ‘I use the money I get from my three rental properties to help my children through university and I’ve taken quite a hit on this. It has cost me thousands of pounds.

‘The maximum deposit you can set is about 5 weeks worth of rent – which doesn’t cover the damages at all.

‘My rental agent told me it was the worst state of a house he’d ever seen. It’s just shocking.’

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“The Creator”: A Glimpse Into A Future Defined By Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

By Cindy Porter

In “The Creator” visionary director Gareth Edwards thrusts us into the heart of a dystopian future, where the battle lines are drawn between artificial intelligence and the free Western world.

Set against the backdrop of a post-rebellion Los Angeles, the film grapples with pressing questions about the role of AI in our society.

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

While the narrative treads familiar ground, it is timely, given the rising prominence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Genres

Edwards embarks on an ambitious endeavor, blending elements of science fiction classics with contemporary themes.

The result is a cinematic stew reminiscent of James Cameron’s “Aliens” tinged with shades of “Blade Runner” a dash of “Children of Men,” and a sprinkle of “Akira” This concoction, while intriguing, occasionally veers toward familiarity rather than forging its own distinct identity.

Edwards’ Cinematic Journey

The British filmmaker, known for his foray into doomsday scenarios with the BBC docudrama “End Day” in 2005, has traversed a path from indie gem “Monsters” (2010) to the expansive Star Wars universe with “Rogue One” (2016).

“The Creator” marks another bold step in his repertoire. The film introduces compelling concepts like the posthumous donation of personality traits, punctuated by impactful visuals, and raises pertinent ethical dilemmas. It stands as a commendable endeavor, even if it occasionally falters in execution.

Navigating Complexity

In his pursuit of depth, Edwards at times stumbles into the realm of convolution, leaving the audience grappling with intricacies rather than immersing in the narrative.

While adept at crafting visual spectacles and orchestrating soundscapes, the film occasionally falters in the art of storytelling.

In an era where classic storytelling is seemingly on the wane, some may argue that this approach is emblematic of the times.

AI: Savior or Peril?

“The Creator” leaves us with a question that resonates long after the credits roll: Will artificial intelligence be humanity’s salvation or its undoing? The film’s take on machine ethics leans toward simplicity, attributing AI emotions to programmed responses.

This portrayal encapsulates the film’s stance on the subject – a theme as enigmatic as the AI it grapples with.

“The Creator”

Director: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Boyles, Ken Watanabe.
Genre: Science fiction.
Release Year: 2023.
Duration: 133 minutes.
Premiere Date: September 29.


Top 5 Movies by Gareth Edwards:

1. “Monsters” (2010)

– A breakout hit, “Monsters” showcases Edwards’ talent for blending intimate human drama with towering sci-fi spectacles. Set in a world recovering from an alien invasion, it’s a poignant tale of love amidst chaos.

2. “Rogue One” (2016)

– Edwards helms this epic Star Wars installment, seamlessly integrating new characters with the beloved original trilogy. It’s a testament to his ability to navigate complex narratives on a grand scale.

3. “End Day” (2005)

– This BBC docudrama marked Edwards’ entry into the world of speculative storytelling. Presenting five doomsday scenarios, it set the stage for his later exploration of dystopian futures.

4. “The Creator” (2023)

– Edwards’ latest venture, “The Creator,” immerses audiences in a future fraught with AI warfare. While not without its challenges, it boldly tackles pertinent questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

5. Potential Future Project

– As Edwards continues to push the boundaries of speculative cinema, audiences eagerly anticipate his next cinematic endeavor, poised to be another thought-provoking addition to his illustrious filmography.

“The Creator” stands as a testament to Gareth Edwards’ unyielding vision and his penchant for exploring the frontiers of speculative cinema.

While it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of AI, it occasionally falters in navigating its intricate narrative.

As we peer into this cinematic crystal ball, we’re left with a stark question: Will artificial intelligence be our beacon of hope, or will it cast a shadow over humanity’s future? Only time will unveil the answer.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Cindy Porter

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