It's always the same when the cold weather creeps in - a gradual process that begins with 'maybe I can get around this by wearing a few more layers' and ends up with 'just turn the fucking heating on, all the way up'.

By January we've got all the radiators on full blast and we're googling employment laws to see if 'hibernation' counts as a valid reason to stay off work on full pay.

The downside to this is the lingering knowledge that your utility bills are escalating with every passing day until the sun finally returns. Still, you couldn't do much worse than one woman in the US who received a bill for more than $284 billion (£211bn).

electricity meter

US domestic digital electricity meter. Credit: Kristoferb (talk) - Creative Commons

Mary Horomanski, from Erie, Pennsylvania, was informed that the entire amount would have to be paid by November 2018, with the first payment of $28,176 (£21,000) due in December. Dunno about you, but my personal chances of saving to meet those dates would've been pretty limited.

"My eyes just about popped out of my head," said Mary, 58, to the Erie Times-News. "We had put up Christmas lights and I wondered if we had put them up wrong."

You'd have to get your lights pretty drastically wrong to rack up a whopper of a bill that size. As the newspaper points out, it's greater than the national debts of Hungary and South Africa combined.

Luckily it emerged that the figure was wrong - thank fuck for that - with Penelec, her electricity provider, later announcing that the fee was in fact $284.46 (£212).

dollars

Credit: PA

A spokesman for Penelec admitted that the company was unsure as to how such a vast miscalculation had occurred.

"I can't recall ever seeing a bill for billions of dollars," Mark Durbin told the Erie Times-News. "We appreciate the customer's willingness to reach out to us about the mistake."

Luckily Mary was able to see the funny side of the whole thing - probably easier at this point than when the bill arrived, you'd imagine. As the Daily Mail reports, she joked to her son that she now had a new entry on her Christmas wishlist, saying: "I told him I want a heart monitor."

Still, I think I'd probably revert to the multiple-layers plan until spring rolls around, just to be on the safe side.

James Dawson

James Dawson is a Journalist at LADbible. He has contributed articles to LADbible’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing EU’ series on the EU referendum, the 'Electoral Dysfunction' series on the 2017 general election, the ‘U OK M8?’ series tackling mental health amongst young men, and for its ‘Climate Change’ initiative in partnership with National Geographic.

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