London, England

"I’ve not yet had to turn off appliances like my fridge and freezer to save energy, but I know people who have, and maybe it is something I’ll have to consider because this winter it will be even harder to keep warm."
As told to Daniel Lavelle. James is in his 50s and lives in London. His name has been changed.

Issues explored: access to energy, fuel poverty, climate resilience, safety


Marin is in her 60s and lives in the south-west of England. Her name has been changed.

"I have a chalkboard in the kitchen where I used to write shopping reminders. Now I use it to self-medicate, with greetings card therapy written in my scrawly hand: “Things can get better” and “Nothing lasts for ever”. I repeat them out loud to try to will them to be true. I feel constantly vulnerable from the insecurity that has invaded my life: the rented roof over my head, precarious freelance work, the cost of living now I’m in my early 60s. I’m not the only one going through tough times, but when I close my front door, I am alone." 

Heat or eat diaries | The Guardian

Other London stories and resources:

Mid-century tower blocks proliferated in cities across this country after the Second World War. Architecturally, they embodied an egalitarian social vision of clean, safe, comfortable housing for the masses, at a time when many people still lived in decrepit terrace homes with minimal plumbing. But they were built at a time when energy supplies were relatively cheap and abundant, which has led to decades of design problems, including ones that became urgent during last summer’s heat wave. When the temperatures spiked, residents of the Chalcots estate, a campus of five high-rise towers in north London, built in the late 1960s, found the heat unbearable. Anthony J. Royle, who owns a west-facing flat on the 18th floor, felt the heat gather through the day, and continue radiating into the flat at night. Residents complained that some elevators stopped working during the heat wave, underscoring how vulnerable these buildings are when their systems are stressed. 

In a land of cold, the architecture is tested by heat  |  Washington Post