The weather has turned in the UK, and just as we begin to feel the cold bite of winter, so we feel more acutely the impact of the UK recession and the cost-of-living crisis. How can we keep warm when we can’t afford to heat our homes? Here are a few ideas that I am using.
Heat the Person, not the Room
I take that quote from money expert Martin Lewis, who I regularly listen to on BBC radio and watch on ITV. He articulated what my husband encourages me and our children to do, since my elder daughter and I tend to feel cold more often than my younger daughter and my husband. Rather than have the central heating switched on, I wear warm jumpers and hoodies, thick socks, jeans and sometimes I wear a shawl or a scarf in the house when I feel especially cold. It makes me feel snug and secure on a grotty day when I’m working from home.
Another useful tip is to carry a hot water bottle around the house or sit with it on the sofa or in your armchair when you stay in one place for a while. I use this a lot when I have backache due to my period, so it works both for pain relief and to keep me warm. You can get a new hot water bottle from most discount stores in your local area, and there are lots of offers online at this time of year.
Reduce Your Electricity Consumption
When you are working from home or spending most of your time at home, how often do you boil the kettle to make a hot drink? I find that during the summer months I drink a lot of tap water, but now I need hot drinks, and I am conscious about how many times I boil the kettle during the day. One useful tip would be to fill a thermos flask with tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and then you can keep it near your chair or sofa so you don’t have to keep moving around. You can also drink from a thermal travel cup, which will keep your drink warm for longer so you can make it last. My elder daughter has recently claimed a travel cup for herself that she found in the back of a kitchen cupboard, and she loves her hot chocolate in the evenings after school.
Alternatively, you can buy a kettle that is designed to be more energy efficient, which I only discovered last month when our old kettle broke. I chose a Russell Hobbs kettle that matches my toaster, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much lighter it is to pick up than my old cheap kettle. It has markers inside to show you how much water you need to boil for 1 mug of tea (or coffee etc), 2 mugs and so on. That way I reduce the amount of electricity I am using, and it boils more quickly so I get my drink sooner. Winner!
Use an Electric or Gas Stove
Last winter my mum experienced a power cut that lasted for around three days following severe storms, and my siblings and I didn’t realise for a while until we tried to phone her and heard from friends in the area what had happened. We all live in different towns and different parts of the country. Anyway, Mum invested in a gas-powered stove heater that sits in her garden room at the back of the house, and it puts out enough heat to fill the kitchen/diner and the hallway so she can reduce her consumption on central heating. The gas stove uses canisters of gas, and a large one will last for quite a while, so she believes it is a good investment, and it will keep her warm during any winter power cuts this year. If you have solar-powered electricity or your home is less prone to power cuts, perhaps you could use a small electric heater in the room or rooms where you spend most of your time, for example in your home office or living room.
Christmas Gifts to Keep You Warm
These are just a few ideas that might help. Do you have any suggestions? Perhaps you could purchase some smaller self-heating items as Christmas gifts for your loved ones, especially if you know they are struggling financially. Now is a good time to buy gifts in the Black Friday sales, and they will be gratefully received and well-used by the recipients I am sure. My daughters love their hot water bottles that were received as Christmas presents a few years ago, and my younger daughter practically lives in her Oodie, which was a birthday present from friends.
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