Save money this winter
Almost everyone is feeling the pinch right now. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens and inflation is running at just over 11%, we're all looking for ways to live as cheaply as possible.
The most significant contributor to the soaring prices is the rising energy cost sparked by the Ukraine war. Over the winter months, temperatures begin to plummet. We all have to keep warm in winter, but heating costs have increased massively. They rose by 54% in April, then 27% in October, with a further increase due next April.
Heating costs are one of the tenants' highest bills, and there are simple things you can do to keep rising costs to a minimum.
- Switch off your heating when you go to bed at night;
- Move furniture away from radiators to stop heat from being blocked and absorbed;
- Turn off radiators in rooms you don't use;
- Turn down your thermostat by one degree – it could save you 10% on your bill;
- Block out draughts around doors and windows. If you don't have curtains, put some up – the heavier, the better.
Consider the other appliances in your home. Fridge freezers and washer-dryers are heavy users of energy.
- Leave the food to cool fully before you put it in the fridge;
- Don't run washing machines or dishwashers at half load – wait until they're full;
- Lower temperatures where possible;
- Use eco settings if you can – they're the most economical.
And get into the habit of switching things off. Things like hall lights and TVs on standby may not be heavy users, but every little helps. And we all charge electronic devices these days, but they don't have to be charged all through the night. Little savings will mount up, and you'll see the savings in your energy bills.
Food prices have also risen dramatically over the last few months. It is becoming more expensive to produce and ship food, costing supermarkets more, and they also have to pay increasing energy bills.
In the UK last month, food inflation hit a new high of 12.4% - eggs, dairy products, and coffee were particularly hard hit. We may feel we should cut back on food, but a good diet is essential for all of us – especially in winter when we need all the energy we can muster to stay warm.
Here are some budget-saving tips from moneyaware.co.uk:
- Base your meals on food that you already have in stock. Take note of any dried goods like rice or pasta and tinned produce like tomatoes, then buy only what you need to add to them.
- Try not to use takeaways – cook meals yourself from scratch. You might even impress yourself with your cooking abilities. There are plenty of free recipes online, so give it a go.
- Make extra portions and freeze them for later.
- Eat less meat. It's good for the planet and good for your bank balance, too. Lentils and pulses are excellent in curries, and veggie mince is a lot cheaper than beef for a Bolognese.
- Plan ahead. To avoid waste and unnecessary expenditure, create a menu for the week and stick to it. Batch cook where possible – you'll reduce energy costs this way.
- Look out for offers and supermarket vouchers and browse the daily aisle filled with reduced items. Find out what time your local store re-stocks this section and try to pay a timely visit. If there's a bargain buy of fresh meat or fish, freeze it as soon as you get home and use it the following week in your meal plan.
Some final tips
To finish off, here are a few general tips that can make your money go further.
- Try not to go on a spending spree on payday – you'll only regret it later;
- If you've got a credit card, put a strategy in place to get rid of it. It only costs you money;
- If you're working from home, make sure you claim the work-from-home tax relief;
- Try a no-spend day. Stay in and eat a meal of leftovers.
- Always shop around.