As temperatures drop, my friends and I have the same conversation that we had last year, and the year before and every year. Who is the first one to switch on the heating? For some folk though, it’s not just a question of when they wish to start heating the house. Families living with high energy prices on a low income simply can’t afford to use the heating very much; some can’t afford it at all. If you are struggling this year, here are some tried and tested tips on how to keep your home warm on a budget.
DIY Tricks to Keep Your Home Warm on Budget
Check your windows
As windows get older they can let draughts in, both through the part that opens and through cracks between the frame and the wall. Every autumn we use masking tape (very cheap from craft or DIY shops) to seal up the gaps.
Draught-proof your doors
Use masking tape for your external doors as well, and for covering keyholes to stop the draught coming in – it’s easily removable when you need to get in or out! You can make your own draught excluders by stuffing old tights with scrunched up newspaper and tying up the ends. A letterbox draught excluder helps to keep the cold air out. Having a heavy/lined curtain over the door will help too, which brings us to our next tip.
Line your curtains
A few years ago I bought a load of fleece fabric from eBay. I cut it into the right sizes for my curtains and sewed it on (you can just safety-pin it if you prefer). Not only did it increase insulation but it also cut down on draughts, and cost less than £12 including postage. If you can’t find cheap fleece material, felt or old blankets work well too.
Follow the sun
Open your curtains when the sun is shining on that window; close them again when it’s moved around. Make sure all your curtains are closed when it starts getting dark; this will help prevent heat escaping as the evening cools.
If you do use the heating, heat from radiators can be lost through the walls, especially if your house is badly insulated. Cut some cardboard to the right size, cover the cardboard with tin foil (stick it on with tape) and slot it behind the radiator to reflect the heat back into the room. This video features panels from a DIY store, but the homemade ones are fitted in the same way.
So, that’s our DIY tips on keeping your home warm on a budget, but what else can you do?
Personal Tricks to Keep Your Home Warm on a Budget
This is an obvious one but it’s still worth mentioning. A vest, t-shirt or two and a jumper can keep you lovely and warm. Tights or leggings under trousers are also good, as are extra socks or slippers. If you’re prone to cold hands try wearing fingerless gloves (so you can still do things – I don’t recommend trying to cook while wearing proper gloves!) and you can even add a hat if you want. Sometimes you can find cheap thermal underwear in the shops – keep an eye on discounters such as Lidl and Aldi at the beginning of winter as they often stock thermals.
Blankets and bottles
Fleece blankets are pretty cheap these days, and many charity shops sell cosy woollen blankets. Heap them on sofas and beds and snuggle. Hot water bottles are great too, whether the traditional rubber bottle or the modern gel-filled ones you can microwave. I’m told that electric blankets are cheap to run, although I don’t have one.
Make your bed cosy
A surprising amount of body heat is lost into the mattress, so put a spare duvet or blankets under the sheet. Extra blankets on top of your duvet or an extra duvet inside the cover will also help. Sleeping bags can be great too, whether you sleep inside them or use them as an extra layer on top.
If you like wearing them, onesies will keep you warmer than pyjamas with separate parts. Alternatively, you can layer up again – a vest or t-shirt under pyjamas will help trap more warm air and two pairs of regular socks are often warmer than one pair of bedsocks.
Hot drinks and meals will help you feel warmer from the inside out, and you can warm your hands on a mug of hot tea or a bowl of soup. Porridge is a great way to start the day, both warming and cheap, and casseroles or stews are good healthy and inexpensive meals.
Open the oven
When you’ve cooked in the oven, leave the door open afterwards so the heat can dissipate into the air. You can also save money on energy by using residual heat from the oven to warm cherry pit pillows like these ones.
Whether it’s a brisk walk, a jog, housework or even just running up and down the stairs, keeping yourself moving will help you feel warmer. Getting the kids out of the house and enabling them to let off steam is always a good idea.
Be like JK Rowling – If your home is really cold and you just can’t take it anymore, go to somewhere like a supermarket, library or shopping centre where it will be warm and you can sit or wander for a while. Does your town have a museum where you can take the kids? Or visit a friend! When you get home again your house will feel warmer simply because you’ve been outside in the cold.
If you are really struggling to keep your home warm, then reach out for assistance.
Foodbanks – If you are really struggling this winter, find out where your nearest foodbank is located. Sam wrote here about foodbanks for Jump!
Government Assistance – There are various grants and schemes in UK, which you can find out about here.
Citizens Advice Bureau – here are some tips if you can’t afford to top up your pre-payment meter.