Winter is coming whether we like it or not and it always pays to be prepared. Simply pumping up the heat might not be an option though as the resulting costs could be astronomical. This is especially apt if you are unemployed, elderly and retired or simply living in a lower wage bracket, a bracket many more of us find ourselves in this year thanks to widespread job losses, benefit cuts and wage freezes. Matters are not helped of course by exorbitant hikes in energy costs, with the average energy bill set to sky-rocket up to a dizzying £1500 a year. Governmental cold weather schemes and warm home discounts offered by many energy suppliers for low-income houses do help but unfortunately they don’t help enough. It has got to a worrying point now where many of us simply can’t afford to both heat our homes and feed ourselves and our families. This is a choice that nobody should have to make in a modern, civilized world!
Don’t lose all hope though. Just because you can’t afford to keep the heating on all winter doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the cold. There are ways to keep yourself warm this winter that the energy companies would probably prefer you didn’t know about. Simple and cost-effective tricks and ideas that could not only save you money, but in some more drastic cases, could save your life.
Here we’ll be examining five of the most effective.
You know that soft, spongy stuff you see in your loft? The stuff that was always rumoured would give you some sort of fatal rash if you ever touched it (just me then?), well that’s insulation and it’s function is essentially to hold heat inside your home. Insulation can be made from a variety of materials and can be installed into the cavities in your walls or (obviously) in your loft. Without proper insulation as much as half of your homes heat will escape through your walls and roof and it not only keeps you warm in winter but will keep your home slightly cooler in the summer. Check whether or not your home is properly insulated and if it isn’t the installation fee will seem like a pittance compared to what you’ll be saving in energy bills.
Switching energy suppliers is something that the majority of home owners just never consider simply for convenience sake. They automatically presume that switching suppliers is going to be a colossal hassle that will leave them out of pocket. It really doesn’t have to be though. There are websites dedicated to finding you the best possible deal but don’t simply go with the cheapest one, be sure to do as much research as you can. You might not even need to change supplier. A lot of people are paying more than necessary for their energy simply because they’re on the wrong tariff. Generally, people simply don’t understand the variety of tariffs available but if you simply call up your supplier, they should be able to talk you through all the available options. If they are not being helpful, simply tell them you’re considering switching to another supplier, this always manages to light a fire beneath them!
Did you know that even the smallest of barely noticeable leaks and drafts could be letting hundreds of pounds worth of heat out of your home? Common air leaks are generally found in windows and doors, isn recessed lighting, plumbing vents and wiring holes, but the truth is, they could be anywhere. Making sure your home is adequately ‘sealed’ is perhaps the most cost-effective energy saving tip on the list but it is also the most labour intensive. Luckily however, there are hundreds of helpful tutorials online that will be able to take you through the process step-by-step.
Get into the habit of turning down the heating in your home to more sensible levels, especially during the day when you’re not at home and even if you are at home during the day, it is generally warmer in the morning and afternoon than it is in the evenings. It is estimated that turning down the thermostat in your home by only 1 degree could reduce the cost of your heating bills by as much as 10%. It’s even possible to purchase a programmable thermostat that alters the temperature in your home automatically depending on the time of day.
A significant amount of homes these days will of course already be double glazed but for those that are not, you might want to look into it. Of course the initial outlay is going to be a lot more expensive than any of the other tips on this list but it could also save you perhaps the most money in the long run. There’s always next Winter to think about remember.
Of course there are also many smaller things you can do to keep jack frost at bay. Drink more warm fluids, wrap up warmer, buy thicker sheets and blankets for your beds, invest in a few hot water bottles and maximize the amount of sun your home is getting during the day. Basically use your common sense and don’t panic!