Energy prices remain high this winter, with the Energy Price Cap rising from £1,834 to £1,928 a year for the average household from January.
While the price is falling, many people are still struggling to cover their energy bills. The Energy Price Cap applies to the cost of the energy per unit used, so the actual amount you’ll pay will depend on how much energy you use. This means that those living in bigger homes or properties that aren’t energy efficient could pay much more than £1,928 a year from January, whilst those using less energy should have lower bills.
Keeping a firm grip on your energy usage will still be vital, so here’s a rundown of some practical ways you can plan ahead to stay warm, whilst keeping energy usage to a minimum.
- Dry your clothes naturally or use a dehumidifier
- Wash your clothes at a cooler temperature
- Make your own draught excluders
- Use an air fryer, microwave or slow cooker instead of your oven
- Make the most of your appliances
- Use hot water bottles, hand warmers and heated blankets to stay warm
- Stock up on logs and coal now
- Wear several layers and try a wearable blanket
- Prep a single ‘winter room’
- Join support groups
- Stay active
- Where to get more help
1. Dry your clothes naturally or use a dehumidifier
The cheapest way to dry your clothes is on an airer or washing line, or naturally by hanging them up wherever possible around the house. Compared to using a tumble dryer, this should save you around £40 a year on average, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Alternatively, you could use a dehumidifier to speed up the process and save money compared to using a tumble dryer.
A dehumidifier costs between 3p and 9p per hour to run, depending on its power and how much water it extracts, compared to a tumble dryer that costs between 60p and £1.50 per cycle. So, even if you’ve the most economical tumble dryer, you could potentially run your dehumidifier for several hours to dry your clothes and still save money.
The best way to dry your clothes using a dehumidifier is to place them on a drying rack in a space or small room where you can run the machine and give it time to do its job.
2. Wash your clothes at a cooler temperature
Try washing the majority of your clothes at 20 or 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees, as doing so could save you £24 a year, according to consumer association Which? You can reserve 40 or 60 degrees for bedding and towels to get these squeaky clean. Download the manual online for your particular machine, and check what the running costs are for different cycles.
This may not sound like a big saving, but if you combine it with trying to cut down the number of washes you do each week, and wearing your clothes a little more often before putting them in the laundry basket, you could save a fair sum over time.
3. Make your own draught excluders
Cracks in windows and doors allow heat to escape easily, but there are simple ways to eliminate these using a silicone sealant to fill any gaps. If you can find cheap, secondhand draft excluders or make these yourself using a rolled towel or other means for any doors that lead to the outside, this should also help keep the heat inside your home.
A number of Rest Less members have shared their practical energy-saving measures in our community. One member said: “I’ve successfully used cling film as an extra form of draught proofing. Tape to the inside window frame and stretch it across the glass to the other side of the frame, and manipulate each strip of film together to remove gaps. Thick curtains and a door curtain to retain heat and keep out some drafts also helps.”
Another member added: “You can make draught excluders by making a sausage dog type excluder stuffed with old clothes. Make sure curtains do not drape over radiators…fold them up into the window bottom so the heat goes into the room.”
4. Use an air fryer, microwave or slow cooker instead of your oven
Many air fryers and microwaves are cheaper to use than gas ovens, partly because they take less time in a smaller space to cook things such as frozen meals. According to comparison site Uswitch, it could cost around 12p to cook chicken in an oven, compared to half that amount in an air fryer. The site says it’d cost around 27p to cook a baked potato in the oven compared to just 3p in the microwave.
Alternatively, try using a slow cooker, as while it’ll be on for longer than an oven, that doesn’t mean you’ll be spending more on energy, as they use far less. They’re also great for cooking cheap cuts of meat and making use of old vegetables. Find inspiration in our guide 10 of the best slow cooker recipes to save you time and money.
However, which cooking appliance is cheapest to use will depend on what you’re cooking, your appliance’s energy efficiency rating, and its size. Bear in mind, too, that depending on the particular models, air fryers and microwaves may not be able to accommodate as much food as an oven, so you may need to use them several times for one meal. You can find a wide range of air fryers and slow cookers for sale on Amazon, or try Facebook marketplace for secondhand options. This air fryer is big enough to cook a whole chicken, while more expensive, but widely recommended on forums, is this Ninja air fryer. Bear in mind that prices for electrical appliances such as air fryers often come down on discount days such as Black Friday, so it could be worth waiting until then to buy one. Find out more about where to buy the best air fryers in our guide 13 best air fryers 2023.
If you’re using an oven, get into the habit of turning it off 5-10 minutes before the end of the required cooking time for meals such as roasted veg, shepherd’s pie and casseroles, as the food can finish cooking in the remaining heat. However, this strategy’s success depends on what you’re cooking, as some items such as bread require precise cooking times.
5. Make the most of your appliances
Consider how you cook your dishes, to potentially reduce the time spent using your oven. For example, you could part-cook some items such as chips in the microwave, before transferring to the grill or air fryer. Similarly, you can brown sausages or chicken on the hob before moving to the slow cooker. If you’ve got a large steamer, you can cook a lot in it using just one ring on your hob, which can be a big money saver.
When you’re using your oven, maximise its space. Don’t just cook a single item, but think about what you’re eating for the rest of the week and whether you can bulk cook to save on energy costs. Anything you don’t plan to eat that day can be frozen or chilled and reheated when needed. Alternatively, consider switching to food that doesn’t require using energy, and cooking, such as bread instead of toast, and baked oats left in the fridge rather than porridge.
When you’re boiling water for tea or coffee in the morning, only boil the amount you’ll actually need. Alternatively, boil a full kettle and transfer the remaining water to a flask to keep it warm for the rest of the day for more hot drinks.
6. Use hot water bottles, hand warmers and heated blankets to stay warm
There are masses of heated items you can buy to wear, wrap around you or use to stay warm. According to research by MoneySavingExpert, those which can be charged via USB such as USB gloves, and hand warmers are cheapest to run, but these are usually focused on a small area such as your hands or feet. You can buy these at Amazon, Superdrug and Wilco, for example.
Buy hot water bottles from just £2 in stores such as Poundstretcher. Examples of heated electric throws include this one from ManoMano for £35.89. An electric blanket can warm up your bed, with one of the cheapest options being this one from Amazon at £24.99. It has a remote control with three heat settings. You could also look at weeklydeals4less.com, which sometimes has deals on electric blankets, and fleece bedding. Find out more about where to buy the best heated and electric blankets in our guide 6 best electric blankets 2022.
7. Stock up on logs and coal early
If you have an open fire or wood burner you may want to think about stocking up on wood and coal in the spring and summer months to use when the weather gets colder next winter.
Bear in mind that while it can be tempting to pick up wood wherever you can, such as fallen branches or local scrap, you must only do this with the permission of the landowner. If they do allow you to collect wood, it must be seasoned before being burned. This means it needs to be dried to remove as much moisture content as possible before being burnt. Store it somewhere dry with plenty of air to circulate for ideally around six months, or leave it out so the wind and sun can dry it more quickly. Some local councils schedule free wood giveaways, or you could contact local parks to see if they do the same from felled trees.
If you rely on coal to heat your home, there are many different types, so speak to your local coal merchants to find out which is likely to be best for you, and then search for the best deal.
Just be mindful that burning some fuels at home, such as wood and coal, releases harmful smoke and pollutants into the atmosphere which can damage the environment. Find ways to reduce the impact here. Beware, too, of the risk of carbon monoxide if you’re using an open fire and fit an alarm to protect you from any escape of gas. It’s also important to have your chimney swept each year before using it to reduce the risk of a chimney fire,which costs an average of £65 in the UK.
8. Layer up and try a wearable blanket
Rather than wearing a single woolly jumper, put on several thermal layers. This is generally the advice given to those trekking in the cold, or skiing, as wearing a number of layers conserves more heat than one thick layer. Retailers such as Mountain Warehouse, and Decathlon are good places to start and you can look for secondhand options on eBay and other sites such as Vinted. Other options that sell thermal tops and leggings include M&M Direct, Sports Direct, and M&S. Read our full list of recommendations in our article Best low cost thermal clothing to keep warm this winter.
A Rest Less member says: “I have three sets of thermal base layers so that I can wash and wear and have spare (most outdoorsy type shops have them and they’re worth the initial outlay). Then I wear thick socks, slippers and have lots of hot drinks…Even in B&M, Poundland and on market stalls you can find cheapish soft blankets and throws to put around you while you’re sat down and over the bed at night.”
Another member said: “You can often pick gilets (body warmers) up at charity shops. These keep you warm without feeling restricted. A hot water bottle, blanket and a beanie hat help too.”
You can also buy oversized hoodies or wearable blankets at many retailers. These can vary widely in price, but relatively inexpensive versions can be found at Amazon for £19.99, Kudd.ly and Primark, when they are in stock. You might also want to consider an electric blanket. You can find some of the best deals in our guide 6 best electric blankets to keep you warm 2023.
9. Prep a single warm ‘winter room’
If you’re really worried about how much it’s going to cost to heat your entire home, you could focus on keeping one room warm, such as the living room. Make this as cosy as you can, and plan to maximise time here in the coldest months. This may include making full use of draught excluders, throws, and blankets in that particular room. Spare fairy lights or solar garden lights can add a cozy feel, and they’re good to have in the event of a power cut.
Alternatively, you could switch the radiators off in every room you’re comfortable not using, except your bedroom and living room. Try heating the living room during the day and bedroom just before you go to bed.
10. Join support groups
Most of us are anxious about the soaring cost of energy, and seeking ways to manage the impact of this on our finances this winter. Fortunately, there are plenty of support groups popping up on social media offering masses of tips and tricks for cutting back on energy usage, and keeping warm this winter. You can search and ask advice from Rest Less members in our Rest Less Lifestyle Facebook group.
The website Energy Support and Advice UK may also be worth a look, as it currently has around 69,000 members swapping their advice and information on their energy bills.
11. Stay active
If you’re able to do so, keep as active as possible. If you’re working from home, move around at least once an hour and try to avoid sitting for long periods. This’ll boost your circulation, and help you to stay warm and healthy. However, it can be difficult to find the motivation to stay active in the colder months. Find tips in our articles 5 tips for staying fit and healthy this winter and there are plenty more in our section Fitness and exercise.
Where to get more help
It’s an extremely tough time for households battling soaring energy costs. As a first step if you’re struggling, contract your energy provider to see if they can offer any solutions. Read more in our article What can you do if you can’t pay your energy bills? and Energy saving tips: how to reduce your bills.
Over the winter, there were a number of government schemes available for people to help them cover the cost of their energy bills, however, the last of these ended in July, meaning many people are still likely to struggle to make ends meet.
People on low incomes and means tested benefits are receiving a £900 payment , which is being paid in three instalments, with the second set to be paid from the end of October. Read more in our article Date of second cost of living payment announced.
You may also be entitled to the Winter Fuel payment, if you were born on or before 25 September 1955, which is a tax-free amount of between £100 and £300 to help pay bills over the winter. The government will also give an extra £300 to those receiving this benefit, and a further £150 to those receiving disability benefits. Find out more about this and other benefits such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme in our guide Are you eligible for help with heating costs?
If you’re still struggling after exploring all your options, your local council may offer a scheme that can help. Contact your local council to see if you are entitled to The Household Support Fund. You can read more about this in our article The Household Support Fund Explained.
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