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Having to go without heating – is it such a bad thing?

Hail to the Great God Heat

Is having to turn the boiler off a bad thing? Image by curlsdiva via Flickr

A recent report from uSwitch found that at some point or other this winter (the coldest for 100 years) 14 million households have gone without heating.

Three quarters or 76% of people who took our survey told us that they have had to ration their gas and electricity this year, because they were unable to cope with the cost of heating their home, while two in ten people have regularly gone without heating.

However, 40% said that they were keeping a close eye on their energy usage this winter to keep costs down, and 38% they had taken up energy efficiency measures for the same reason.

Which brings me back to the purposefully provocative title for this post (I was just trying to get your attention!).

Of course having to go without heating all together isn’t a good thing – 14% of people polled claimed that cutbacks on their gas and electricity bills had affected their quality of life or health, which is an incredibly worrying statistic.

But, on the other hand, if people are thinking more about the cost of their heating, trying to be more energy efficient and aiming to get more warmth for less money, then that’s definitely a positive.

The truth is, with climate change and dwindling supplies of coal, oil and gas, we all need to do our bit to cut our energy usage.

And on a different level, why put more money into the pocket of your gas and electricity company than you need to? I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of things I’d rather spend my money on than gas and electricity bills!

Some people who took the poll shared some really innovative tips for keeping their homes warm. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Leave the oven door open after you’ve finished cooking to let the heat from the oven warm the room as it cools down.
  • Get moving – exercise DVDs and ‘energetic housework’ were popular choices for getting the blood pumping and raising your temperature.
  • Be innovative with your insulation – people suggested everything from putting clingfilm or polythene over windows, making bubblewrap covers for doors and cutting cardboard to fit tightly into window panes.
  • Put foil or metal behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room.
  • A certain brand of Australian sheepskin-lined boots cropped-up a few times as a recommended footwarmer (although I’m not sure how cost-effective that is at £100 a pair). Another person was more money-conscious and said that they had used the thermal insulation from behind their radiators to make extra-warm socks!