Darrel Piper has turned off his costly central heating system and replaced it with thousands of Christmas lights, which emit enough warmth to see him through the bitter winter.
The 40-year-old, from Dumfries, believes the bizarre approach will see him save a significant amount on the spiralling prices charged by energy firms.
He hangs the sparkling lights in every available space in his living room from September 1, insisting it allows him to keep his heating switched off into the New Year. There are 700 on his tree alone.
“Despite having thousands of lights up, I find they’re cheaper to power than my heating,” he explained. “They’re about the equivalent of powering a 3kw fire.
“Once the lights are on for a while the place is like a sauna. I leave the doors open so the heat circulates through the house.
“Later on in winter, if it’s really cold in the morning, I’ll put the lights on first thing to warm the place up.”
Once the lights are on for a while the place is like a sauna.
Darrel, who is unable to work due to suffering thrombosis of the legs, fell in love with fairy lights when he was a young boy and says they always put him in a “great mood”.
But he certainly does not underestimate their practical value too, continuing: “I put £15 a week on my electricity key card and £15 a fortnight on my gas card, which pays for my cooker and central heating.
“I try to spend only around a fiver on my gas at this time of year and that’s just for cooking, allowing the money to build up.
“Once I take the lights down after Christmas there will hopefully be enough on the gas card to pay for my heating into the spring.
“I really don’t know how these heating companies expect people on low incomes to survive. For older people, it’s heat or eat.”
He added: “It takes me a couple of days just to get all of the tangles out and then my friend puts them up for me.
“Everyone thinks I’m mad but I don’t care. The neighbours have come to expect it now.”
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