Recently, I posted some top tips on keeping the bills down as we head into winter. Well, now that Jack Frost has well and truly arrived in Manchester, I thought it’s the perfect time to look at what else we can do to keep warm and safe without sending our heating costs through the roof!
First and foremost, if anyone is at a point where they are seriously having to worry about turning the heating up (or even on!) because of the cost, then the time has come to go and ask for help. If you’re a Northwards tenant, drop me a line, otherwise approach your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK or council.
They (and I!) should be able to help in a variety of ways, including helping you to apply for grants, helping you to rebalance your budget to make savings elsewhere, and checking that you are getting all of the income that you may be entitled to.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s been a lot in the news about the need for companies to simplify their heating tariffs and make them clearer. At the moment, some of the suppliers have already increased their cost-per-unit whilst others have not. This makes it quite hard to know whether swapping suppliers is really going to improve matters for you.
At the very least, you should ring your own supplier and ask if you are on the best tariff available to you. Ask specifically if there’s a social tariff available and if you are eligible for that. These are special reduced rates aimed at people on low incomes – you can find our more about them here.
On a practical level, there are also great little changes that we can make to help reduce costs. Here’s my “six of the best”!
1/ As an experiment, I took the plunge over the weekend and reduced the washing temperature of my laundry to 30 degrees. This is something that I’ve heard a lot of people recommending before (including the Energy Saving Trust – click here for their money/energy saving tips!). Not only that, but instead of just pouring washing liquid in from the bottle, I measured out the recommended amount.
I was amazed at how much I’ve been wasting! The washing came out as clean and fresh as always and apparently this saves up to 15 pence per washload.
Not earth shattering, I accept, but multiplied by the number of washloads each year, it’s certainly a step in the right direction!
2/ When boiling the kettle, only boil what you need – not only does it save money and energy, but it also saves you time when you’re gasping!
3/ Layer clothes and try to keep on the move whenever possible. It is especially important to keep hands, feet and your head warm and covered as this is where a lot of our body heat goes.
4/ Soups are a really nutritious alternative to sandwiches at lunchtime, and a great way of keeping warm.
5/ Check doors and windows for draughts and – if necessary – use draught excluders to stop that valuable heat from escaping.
6/ When you put the oven on, why not cook meals for the next 2 or 3 days too, and then just reheat them in the microwave as you come to eat them?
So then, that’s my six top tips and suggestions! Now I want to hear from you – what are YOUR top tips for keeping the bills down and the cold out? Post your replies below – the more the merrier!