The cost of energy crisis has been well documented in recent weeks with the raising of the energy price cap increasing bills by hundreds of pounds for households. The increased cost is leaving many struggling to heat their homes.
Money savers have been sharing their tips with the team at MoneySavingExpert, and a common theme is ‘heat the human, not the home’. MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis said: “This is a guide I really wish we needn’t be publishing. The reason I asked Sarah and the team to put this together is due to my overflowing e-mail bag of desperation from people who can’t afford their energy bills.
“So don’t see this as an ‘MSE or Martin says you should do this’. It’s more that we’re trying to help provide some options and information for those that may need to drastically cut down on energy usage due to financial desperation and some help for others who may want to do it out of a commitment to green issues.”
Here’s some of the tips the team has provided for households struggling to keep warm – and things to think about before cutting back:
Keep yourself (and your home) healthy
This guide’s all about how to keep warm if you’re at the point of cutting back on heating. But before you do, there are a few important things to consider:
- It may be dangerous for older people, or those with asthma and other health conditions. If in doubt, consult your GP and follow their advice. Age UK told us it’s important older people do all they can to stay as warm as possible.
- Will it impact your mental health? Some say a cold home affects their mental health and motivation.
- Avoid damp and burst pipes. Not heating your home properly can contribute to damp issues and frozen pipes, resulting in hundreds of pounds of damage. The Energy Saving Trust recommends ventilating rooms and having the heating on to some degree during winter.
- Rent your home? Check what your contract says about heating. Some landlords stipulate you must turn the heating on regularly, or keep the home at a minimum temperature.
From hot water bottles to electric footwarmers
Wearing the right clothes can make a huge difference when living in a cooler house. But many MoneySavers also recommend getting extra warmth from electric blankets, heat pads, footwarmers and so on.
Layer clothes to keep in the heat
If you want to stay warm indoors, it’s worth looking at advice given to those spending time in cold conditions outdoors. MSE looked at clothing tips given by big outdoor retailers such as The North Face and Cotswold Outdoors. They’re aimed at people hiking, skiing and so on, but many of the principles remain the same.
Don’t think you have to splash out on pricey gear though. You may be warm enough layering clothes you already own – for example, some MoneySavers simply wear old tights under their clothes.
Eat regularly and have at least one hot meal a day
The NHS says eating regularly will help keep you warm, and says you should have one hot meal a day. It also recommends drinking hot drinks regularly.
Forumites recommend homemade soup and porridge, and these can be good MoneySaving options too. For example, 1kg of porridge oats is 75p at Aldi, Tesco and Morrisons.
Struggling to afford food?
Sadly, many are struggling to afford both food and energy right now. But there is help out there:
- Speak to your local council. Councils have a new tranche of £500m for the Household Support Fund – to prioritise money to meet essential costs – you don’t need to be on benefits. Contact your local authority to see if you’re eligible (they may also be able to point you to other help).
- Try your local foodbank. Foodbanks give out free parcels that should provide at least three days’ worth of in-date, non-perishable food. The Trussell Trust is one of the biggest foodbank charities in the UK – use its website to check if it operates near you.
Other tips from MSE include:
- Keep your feet warm with rugs & slippers
- Choose the right socks, and consider changing them during the day
- Put your feet up… literally – the floor is the coldest part of the house
- Try the ‘hot water bottle in a sleeping bag’ trick
- Walk around the house, or go out for a walk – gentle exercise can help you stay warm, so try and move around once an hour
- Consider the cost to your mental health before cutting back
Get up to £350 to help with rising energy prices
Many households in England, Wales and Scotland can get up to £350 of Government support this year, designed to help a little with energy bills. This is made up of:
- A £200 rebate ‘loan’ in October to all households. You’ll get an automatic £200 discount on your bills, regardless of what tariff you’re on. From April 2023 you’ll have a £40/year levy added to bills to effectively repay the discount. For full info, see Martin’s video explainer.
- A £150 council tax rebate ‘from April’ to all households in England, Scotland and Wales for those in bands A to D. How it works exactly depends on where you live.