With Spring finally starting to make to make an appearance, we recently conducted a survey on how people had coped with the cold winter we’ve had and the impact it had on their heating bills. Read the full story ’13 million households go without heating to save on energy bills’ . In particular, we asked people what they’d done to keep warm and keep down their gas and electricity bills at the same time.
There were all the answers you’d expect, like installing extra insulation, using a hot water bottle and digging out the electric blanket, but we also heard some more ingenious ideas which I thought I’d share with you…
1. Extra-ordinary layers – extra layers might not seem like a particularly unusual idea, but our survey indicated that some people are going a bit further than putting on an extra jumper. A few people have taken to wearing long-johns and thermal underwear under their clothes, and more than a couple of people told us that they’d dug out their ski-suits to wear around the house rather than turn the heating on.
2. Making the most of man’s best friend – plenty of people have been snuggling up to their dog/cat/rabbit in the evenings to keep the chill at bay, but some respondents have even started letting their pets into their bed to warm it up for them before they get in, while another has trained their dog to lie in front of the door as a makeshift draught excluder.
3. Working hard – some respondents said that they have been staying late at work to make the most of their warm offices. This is a good idea on two fronts – as well as keeping warm, you’ll get extra brownie points at work for your ‘dedication’ to the job.
4. Hibernation – one of the most common suggestions was staying in bed as much as humanly possible, with people saying that they’d been watching TV, going online, doing paperwork and even eating in the warmth and comfort of their bed.
5. Heading for the sun – a few lucky people said that they’d bypassed the cold weather all together, by heading off on an extended holiday and in some cases, even moving abroad! Definitely effective, but perhaps not the most affordable (or practical) option.
6. Staying with friends – some of the people we questioned told us that they’d been going to stay with friends and family on cold nights in order to to take advantage of their heating, as well as their hospitality.
7. Feeling the burn – lots of people who took the survey recommended exercise as a good way of keeping warm. Chopping wood, star jumps, running up and down the stairs and getting on the exercise bike all got the thumbs-up for raising your temperature.
8. Camping – ‘Camping? Really?’ I hear you ask. We’re not talking outdoors, but indoors. A few people were making the most of camping equipment, like sleeping bags, inside the house, with one person saying they’d actually pitched a tent inside their living room to give them a bit more protection against the cold.
9. Booze – it’s hardly the best option for your liver, but a few people said that they been using the warming effects of alcohol to distract them from the cold.
All joking aside, the fact that people need to go to such great lengths just to keep warm has raised some serious questions about the affordability of gas and electricity.
Ann Robinson, our Director of Consumer Policy said: “Let us be clear that this is not about people becoming more energy efficient – this is about people going cold. And sadly it has taken a bitter winter to bring home the bitter truth about the impact high household energy costs can have on quality of life and health in Britain today.
She added that anyone worried about keeping warm without burning a hole in their pocket should make sure that they pay the lowest possible price for their gas and electricity, as well as trying to be more energy efficient.