It seems incredible to imagine that British people are forced to choose between eating food or heating their home. But recent research carried out by icount suggests that this worrying situation has affected a third of the population. Furthermore, two thirds of people in the UK will restrict themselves from putting on the heating when they feel cold – and nearly 75 per cent will refuse to do so at all.
The survey of 1,000 people found that women are most likely to put up with being cold, with 72 per cent of women more likely to leave the heating off, compared to 65 per cent of men. According to icount, the situation is also a source of tension, with half of the survey respondents saying that heating decisions were a cause of arguments at home.
With concerns around rising prices, the challenges of budgeting and the threat of utility arrears when bill payments fall behind, what measures can you take to keep warm, whilst managing finances carefully?
The budgeting experts over at icount have put together some budgeting tips and advice to help you keep bodies warm and bellies full over the winter period.
- Warm the home up before you start to feel cold, or when the temperature indoors drops under 18 degrees. Aim to have it on by November – leave it any later and you risk damp and problems with mould.
- Make sure there are no draughts letting cold air in. Get some draught excluders in place and save over £50 a year. An annual boiler service is also necessary to keep the system running efficiently – and as cheaply as possible. Choose an energy efficient model and see if your utility provider offers grants for these.
- Try adding thick rugs and curtains to your room – and install reflector panels behind your radiators to keep the heat flowing inwards. Remember to switch suppliers periodically too to benefit from the most competitive tariffs. You can do price comparisons online to see the best deals quickly and easily – and to initiate the switching process without hassle.
- Layer up when you do feel chilly. A few light layers will help to keep you toastier than one thick layer. And don’t forget the humble hot water bottle either – it’s a fantastic way of heating a cold bed, and is a great option for people with limited mobility when they are sitting in a chair. Just don’t make it too hot, and use a good insulated cover.
- Good budgeting will help you to manage your finances and ensure there is plenty aside to cover heating bills. Plan your weekly food shop and cook from scratch. It is also worth checking to see if you are entitled to any benefits or financial support. Trim back on any unnecessary extras; for example, if you buy a newspaper every day, could you read it at the library instead? This would save around £15 a month alone.
- Don’t forget to get out of the house, you can always go to places that are very generously heated if finances really are tight. For example, community and social centres offer great social activities which will keep you toasty whilst having fun!
Plan ahead now and look forward to a warmer winter!