Dear Energy Company, You Are Not Getting My Cash This Winter

The Energy Secretary welcomed the EDF 3.9% price rise on fuel for being closer to inflation than the prices hikes announced by their rivals. According to Mr Davey, “Now people will see they have [a] choice. It isn’t just the smaller suppliers offering lower prices,”.

Personally, I do not see families having to find extra money to pay fuels bills, whether it’s 3.9% or 8.6%, is much of a choice at all. Worrying reports in the news show a growing number of people are concerned about managing their household bills this winter. But some of us may still have some choices left. With increased household costs on the horizon, I surveyed our house and domestic habits for quick and easy ways I can keep the cash in my pocket and not hand over to greedy, complacent, energy companies.

Wear A Goddamn Jumper Claire

Not appropriate Winter office attire, Claire.
Not appropriate Winter office attire, Claire.

Guilty as charged. I am one of those who loves to sleep in shoestring strap vest-tops all year round. I will sit at my desk working in a t-shirt and leggings. But with our youngest coming up to 27 months old, the need to keep the house toasty round the clock during colder months is long gone.

Despite the recent lingering warm temperatures, I have dug out the jumpers and cardigans (despite the weather still being fairly warm), invested in slippers socks and will tough it out at my desk or build myself one of  Nancy from Wildplay’s heater. The kids are also at an age where they can wear more layers, slippers and leggings under dresses for example. And for the rare free nights watching a movie on the sofa, the Slanket has been washed and dried, ready to report for action. I am not ready for a onesie quite yet.

Draft-Proofing

Our Victorian terraced house heats up quickly but the sash windows and doors let the heat escape almost as quickly. We have never carried out extensive draft-proofing, it is long overdue. We started with hanging thick black out curtains in our drafty bedroom, nabbed for around £20 on Amazon. We immediately felt the difference, so curtains for the other rooms is on the shopping list.  Our unused chimney is already blocked, so box ticked there. Next on the list is blocking up the gaps on our sash windows for not a lot of money. As we are time poor, currently both working full-time with two small kids, we will probably go for a secondary glazing film for this Winter as a quick fix. Installing new windows is a big purchase, plus losing the original sash windows from this house will eradicate a part of the charm. However, there are longer lasting modifications we could make to the doors and windows next year, such as draft-excluder brush strips, when we have more time. The Energy Savings Trust has some great solutions for keeping warmth in your home.

IMG_0838Thermostat

Obsessed with being cold, I usually have the thermostat switching on and off like disco lights during the whole day. We had a new boiler installed last summer and shamefully still hadn’t gotten to grips with using it correctly. We already have the radiators switched off in rooms we are not using, which ticks one box. But this year, we have turned all the radiators to the eco-setting on the dial and have only raised the temperature on the thermostat by a few degrees for two hours a day, first thing in the morning and at 10pm at night. As the weather turns colder, we will lift the temperature a little but if all the other heat saving measures are in place, we should never need to have it full pelt, as we have been known to do in the past!

IMG_0835Too Hot In The Kitchen

Like Greg Wallace from Masterchef, I love wet food. So there is every reason to get the slow cooker working hard this Winter. They use less energy than an oven or hob plus are ideal for making the most of the flavour of cheaper cuts of meat. I have a few staple dishes I can throw together without much planning and thought but this year, I want to expand my repertoire. In addition, after listening to BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme a few weeks ago, pressure cookers are also an obvious and much forgotten way to save time & money in the kitchen. And I can’t resist the new gadget purchase, so am on the hunt for a reasonably priced reliable product and recipe ideas.

Switch It

Ecotricty, the 100% green energy company, have announced a prize freeze till 2014 and claim to therefore undercut the ‘Big Six’ . Whether this works out to be a good deal for us or not, it is probably high time we patronised a company who has longer-term energy goals, rather than relying on government policy to drive their profits and investment in green energy.

Our Future Eco-Home

There is so much more we could do with this house to save energy but it will take time to fund the improvements plus fit in the projects with other aspects of family life. I would love have install solar panels on, convert and insulate the loft plus sweep the chimney and have a working fire. We can only add them to ‘the list’ and tweak one thing at a time.

What I have learned from this exercise, is, you think you’re doing all you can with means at your disposal but after a good browse of the Energy Savings Trust website and other articles on saving fuel, I got plenty of inspiration. Got any tips for our readers? Why not share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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About Claire Jones-Hughes

Founder and co-editor of BrightonMums.com, Claire has been blogging since 2009. She has posted on a variety of sites including The Argus, The Huffington Post and The Guardian's Comment Is Free. Known as The Contented Mummy on social media, she is dedicated to honest, unsponsored blogging so that parents can benefit from shared experience. Can also be found at www.fitfaband40.co.uk - sharing her journey to health & wellness.

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