We all struggle to keep our hands on the pennies every now and then. So to ease your money worries and your overdraft woes, check back the first Friday of every month for a series of little hints on tips on how to make your moolah stretch further or work harder for you.

If you haven’t noticed, it is freaking freezing. The temperature has dropped significantly, and although I’m not quite at the stage of scraping ice off my car, it is not far off. When I leave the house I am wearing wooly hat, snood, scarf, gloves AND a coat and I’ve got the thermals on standby. It is official. I hate the cold.


Snowy Car
It really was this cold…

One of the worst things about this time of year (there are great things – Christmas, woohoo!) is that the decrease in temperatures means an increase in heating bills. Which are extortionate. Every few months there are headlines with the main six gas and electricity companies hiking up their prices, alongside stories of those living in fuel poverty. Sadly, paying for something is not something you can avoid, but there are some smart ways to bring your costs down and stop yourself from being ripped off.

Put on an extra layer – or two

Sounds simple, but before you whack that dial up on your radiators, maybe put some more clothes on. I am terrible for this. I hate wearing lots of jumpers and layers indoors, but it makes complete sense. Wear your clothes or warmest jim jams, a snuggly dressing gown, socks and slippers (a belt and braces approach) and big ass hoodie. Anything that is going to keep you warm. I’ve been known to sport my snood around the house and office too.

And it isn’t just making sure you are wearing a suitable amount of layers for the dropping temperatures – anything warm and snuggly is your friend. Blankets, blankets and more blankets are brilliant. The fleecier the better. Fluffy cushions, a warm sofa and a slanket (blanket with arms, which is ideal for eating and for using the remote control) and you’ll have no need to reach for the rad.

Switch it up

That’s right – it is time to switch. Did you know you could be paying more than you need for the gas and electric? No. Well the answer is that if you haven’t switched your supplier for some time, you are likely to be paying way over the odds.

The best way of checking if you are over paying is to use a compare and switch service like Energy Helpline, USwitch or Money Supermarket. Tell the comparison site where you live and all the details about your current energy bills and usage, (be honest, you want an accurate comparison!). It will then tell you not only which company is cheapest, but which of their specific plans will save you the most money. If you don’t have your bills or usage to hand, the sites will estimate.

You don’t need to go with the same supplier for gas and electricity (dual fuel), but sometimes doing this will save you even more money!


Inventive ways to keep warm without your boiler

There are a million ways to keep warm without the use of your boiler or radiator (or electric heater when I lived in a horrid studio flat with no heating). Whilst some of these may use electric, I have it on good authority that these cost significantly less per night than whacking the heating dial up. In fact some of these products will tell you the per pence per night cost of using these in the specs…for the plugged in ones that is!

  • Electric blankets. Either ones that permanently stay on your mattress to sleep on (mmmm toasty) or a fleece blanket that can be plugged in at the wall for extra sofa snuggles. They are all machine washable and pretty reasonable in price.
  • If you don’t fancy sleeping on an electric appliance, at least use a fleece mattress protector to help ensure a bit of bedtime warmth.
  • Hot water bottles. I put my mine under my dressing gown and squeeze it till I’m warm. It is also a great shout to pop into your bed before climbing in.
  • Wheat bags and microwaveable heat packs are great. These often come in the form of a cuddly toy with a belly your can heat up. Which is worrying, but try not to think about it too much.
  • Block up all the gaps in your doors with draft excluders. And keep doors closed too – and with a curtain or heavy material over your front door if it is a bit old and creaky.
  • Cavity wall and loft insulation are great ways of making your house more energy efficient, and some local authorities offer it for free. Find out if you are eligible, and if you rent – lobby your landlord to take action.
  • Exercise. No really. When I am at my coldest, whacking on an aerobics DVD and doing some star jumps does wonders for my warmth levels!
  • Warmth baths/showers and warm food all really helps to raise body temperatures – and of course, a good cup of tea!

What are your top tips for saving money on heating?

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