|Snow joke - keeping warm costs money|
Even a light dusting of snow one morning has not diminished the fact that many of us have not had to put our heating on full-blast yet, which is a huge relief for thousands of households up and down the country.
In 2011 I was struck hard by the article about an Army veteran and his wife who committed suicide because they were too poor. They had to live in one room of their house to save on heating costs - and even this proved too much for them.
You can read this tragic tale here
But with January and February predicted by meteorologists to be a tough one, and with even a White Christmas on the cards - not just the greetings cards - it is worth thinking of ways to keep warm while minimising heating bills.
1) Check your freezer
Yes, you heard me right! In my 2009 book 'Family Meals' - hints and tips on saving money (foreword by the lovely Tony Turnbull), I wrote of an easy way to cut the electricity bills - by sorting out your freezer:
You do not need it to be on full-blast. Turn it down a notch.
De-ice it regularly
Put a layer on the bottom of the freezer. I use kitchen rolls, which are reasonably effective, as this prevents the bottom from freezing up too much.
This not only helps save electricity as your fridge/freezer will use less energy but you will maintain more room inside it to store food and leftovers.
2) Boil your kettle - on full
Yes! Once again, you read that correctly. Knowledge tells us to only boil what we need for one cup. But if you are at home all day, how many times do you boil up just one cup? Four? Five? No. Boil a FULL kettle, once, and store the rest of the hot water in a thermos flask. This will keep hot for hours on end.
3) Leave your oven door open
Once you have cooked your meal, turn the oven off and - making sure no pets or children are around of course - leave the oven door open. If you keep the Kitchen door shut, the residual heat from the oven will help keep the kitchen warm - so you don't need to have the radiators on full blast (or at all) in the kitchen unless absolutely necessary.
4) Check for drafts
Double-glazed windows sometimes leak after a while. It is easy to check the seals are still functioning by simply holding your hand over them. If patio doors or windows are leaking cold air in, then you can make a good bet they are letting warm air out. Fix this with new strips of the black sealing rubber. You can also buy strips of self-adhesive foam draft excluders which are cheap and effective.
5) Cook more at the same time
Instead of using the gas for one meal at a time, cook in bulk and use all the shelves wisely to maximise the space. You can store meals in the fridge or freezer for the next day to reheat in the microwave.
6) Layer up!
This sounds silly but putting an extra thin t-shirt or vest under your clothing can make all the difference - it keeps your body core nice and warm.
7) Use hot water bottles instead of putting the heating on full-whack.
Look around for cheaper energy deals. Look for suppliers that have good service and good rates and make the switch. It can save you hundreds of pounds in the long-run.
9) Be wise!
I know someone who lived alone in a 3-bed house and she was with Scottish Power. Her bills were £2000 a quarter. She didn't know to time the radiators or to turn down ones she wasn't using, and she never thought to check with the power company to see if her bills were correct. So she was blithely paying through the nose (and complaining about them).
Have you got any power-saving tips to help people's money go further? Let me know in the comments!
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