If you are living on a tight budget, each season brings its own challenges and I think that winter might be one of the most difficult. During this season one of the biggest issues homeowners face is finding the money to pay for higher-than-usual power bills. We all know that it’s likely that we’ll be using more fuel and power in the winter; it’s cold, so we have to put the heating on. In addition, the fact that the days are shorter and we usually end up spending more time at home means higher electric bills too. We tend to have the lights and electronics, like the TV, on more. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the bills down, so that you don’t get a massive shock when the gas or electric bill arrives in three months time and here’s what I’ve come up with…Insulate, insulate, insulate
And I’m not just talking about in your loft. It’s draughts that zaps the heat from your home at this time of year but you can stop them today. Getting draught excluders for your doors is a really easy and cheap way to stop heat leakage. Make your own using just a towel and a fold of fabric – here’s my DIY draught excluder project (I used an old fleece blanket to fill mine) so have a go at making one for yourself and stop that draught now! While it’s not a great idea to not open your windows at all in the winter (the stale air and condensation is a breeding ground for mould, ick!) there will be windows in some rooms that aren’t usually opened anyway. These windows can be insulated using a thin film of plastic that is specifically made to block out any draughts. These kits are widely available and extremely easy to install. In the summer you can remove the film and you can go back to opening and closing your windows as normal.Knitted layers
Usually if you wear a jumper and a pair of cosy slippers around the house, you can get away with turning your heating down by several degrees. Doing so can save you a lot of money and on average you will save 2% for every degree lower you go. I know it’s kind of the norm to be able to just wear a t- indoors, but I think you should dress as if you’re going outside. In winter you’d usually wear more than just the one layer to go outside and if you wear the same indoors too you’ll definitely be able to turn down the heating. Knitting scarves and big chunky blankets for everyone is a fun winter project, which will soon pay for itself in the extra warmth you’ll all enjoy. Crocheted throws are great for snuggling up under while you watch a movie or play video games when the weather’s bad outside.Slow cooking
The winter is the perfect time of the year to enjoy more stews and soups, and a slow cooker is the perfect way of cooking them. You can save a lot of money by cooking this way, as a slow cooker will use considerably less energy than an oven or microwave to cook your meal. If you want to learn more about saving money by cooking with a crock-pot, you can do so by reading this article. Plus, it produces the most tender meat and most flavoursome stews ever, so I definitely recommend having a go at slow cooking this winter.
Shop around for your fuel
Regardless, of whether you use gas, heating oil, bottled gas, coal, wood or electricity to heat your home it makes sense to shop around for the best deals. There are plenty of comparison sites out there, which allow you to compare the cost of mains gas and electricity from all of the major suppliers. You can check oil prices ni and it’s often cheaper to get fuel delivered when the supplier is already in delivering your area. Go back to the old days and actually ring around your local suppliers and get quotes for deliveries of wood, coal and bottled gas. This can often work out cheaper than using national companies, and you can even try to haggle when you’re dealing with a ‘real person’. A thrifty winter wardrobe
Another cost that we don’t often consider is putting together a winter wardrobe. Coats, jumpers and other heavy clothing are far more expensive than lightweight summer clothes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep the price down, such as shopping in secondhand stores and charity shops for your winter esssentials. Or instead of buying new clothes, you could repurpose some of last year’s jumpers by dying them, or by adding a few embellishments like I did with my DIY lace collar project or some new buttons. You can take your old boots to be re-heeled, give them a good polish and wear them again for another year.
I hope these ideas have given you some food for thought about cutting costs and saving money this winter. Please do share any other tips you have for staying warm or getting a bargain winter wardrobe by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @cassiefairy.