Jose Maria Casais's income of 2,700 euros ($4,230) a month from a pension and incapacity benefits ought to leave him better off than most of his fellow Spaniards.

But Mr Casais, a retired engineer living in Barcelona, says he is being forced to raid his savings every month due to his energy bills soaring because of his reliance on an oxygen machine to alleviate his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

For the past two years, Mr Casais has been plugged into the oxygen concentrator for up to 24 hours a day.

A man holds asthma medication to his mouth.
Jose Maria Casais has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, making him reliant on an oxygen machine.(Reuters: Nacho Doce)

He says his electricity bill has almost tripled since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, triggering an energy crisis in Europe because of its dependence on Russian gas.

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