Summer heat means big bills for cage dwellers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2011, 12:00am


Utility bills for partitioned flat and cage home dwellers are 50 per cent higher than average in the summer, a survey found.

That's because residents need to wash more clothes, and use more showers and air-conditioning, according to the Society for Community Organisation.

The society - which last month interviewed 52 people who live in cage homes and partitioned or rooftop flats last month - found that each family had to pay an average of HK$407 for electricity and HK$153 for water each month in the summer. In cooler times, they pay HK$268 and HK$103 respectively.

The same survey revealed that the average temperature inside these dwellings was 33.4 degrees Celsius - 3.9 degrees higher than outdoors. Temperature in a partitioned flat in Sham Shui Po could reach 41 degrees.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they would avoid going home during the day, and would instead visit libraries and shopping malls for air conditioning. About half would take cold showers several times a day.

Some would use wet towels to cover their heads, sleep on the floor instead of beds, or ask their children to stay by the fridge door.

She said the government should offer subsidies of HK$500 from June to August for low-income families to pay their electricity and water bills.

It should also allow underprivileged families to swim and use other sports facilities for free during the summer.