Too many people are facing the choice of heating their home or eating as the cold weather continues to bite. But there are ways to cut the cost but not the quality of living when it’s freezing. Here are my 24 tips to heat and eat.
You CAN heat and eat!….
The cold weather makes it a tough time for everyone, particularly if you’re having to choose between heating and eating. Don’t despair, though. There are more possibilities than you think.
- Eat: Shop at the discount websites. Sites like Approvedfood and Foodbargains have loads of cut-price foods including ends of lines, out-of-season products (Easter eggs in Autumn, mince pies in the Spring etc) and basics like pasta, rice and flour at half the normal price.
- Heat: Get your boiler and pipes fixed in the summer when it’s cheap. Yes, summer is well and truly over now but it’s still not too late. If your boiler keeps conking-out or you’re worried about the pipes, get them sorted now while the weather’s not too bad and the plumbers aren’t charging top dollar just to come to your home. Find out how to do winter things in the summer.
- Eat: Shop at street markets. Not only do they often sell the cheap tins, packets and jars of food that the websites above sell, but their fruit, veg and other raw foods are around 30% cheaper than supermarkets.
- Heat: On benefits? See if you can get a grant. If you live in England and receive any benefits like income support, pensions or disability allowance, you may qualify for a grant from the government’s Affordable Warmth scheme. This can be spent on things like loft insulation, draught-proofing and cavity wall insulation. Similar schemes run in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Eat: Build your recipes around what’s cheap and seasonal. It’s a very good idea to plan meals at the beginning of the week, but leave space for recipes based on what’s on offer at the market. Sometimes you can get a whole tray of something for £1 late in the day.
- Heat: Boost your radiators. Put tin foil behind your radiators to reflect heat back into the room. You can get special foil to do this but ordinary tin foil from your kitchen will do. Here are other cheap ways to boost your heat.
- Eat: Grow your own food where you can. Even if, like me, you have no outside space you can grow really useful herbs in pots in the kitchen and tomatoes in window boxes. Swap cuttings and seeds with friends and neighbours to make it even cheaper.
- Heat: Put off paying for energy-saving gadgets with the Green Deal. The government’s new Green Deal enables you to have a new boiler, insulation and other energy-saving services put into your home for free. You then pay for it using the savings you’ve made on your bills.
- Eat: Try eating Raw Vegan. I often suggest that people switch at least one meal a week from a meat-based one to a veggie alternative but if you’re not a dairy fan you can save even more by going vegan. By being ‘raw vegan’ (as a few of my friends are) you even cut down on fuel bills by not cooking the food either. Raw vegan devotees point to the health benefits, great skin and youthfulness they say this diet brings on too. Just put ‘raw vegan’ into your search engine to find hundreds of recipes and ideas.
- Heat: Dry your clothes for under 5p per hour. Get a heated tower dryer from Lakeland and dry your clothes quickly and cheaply without having to put the radiators on or use the tumble dryer. It costs just 3p an hour to run this, although it does cost a whopping £84.99 to buy.
- Eat: Pick wild food. It’s not so easy in the winter, admittedly, but you can find sweet chestnuts, walnuts, rosehips, sloes, hawthorn berries and, if you know what you’re doing, mushrooms. It’s even possible to eat acorns if you boil and roast them.
- Heat: Make your own thermal curtains. You can get thermal curtain lining which can reduce heat loss by as much as 25%. Or you can easily make your own using cheap fleece or a PVC shower curtain with some lining sewn over the top.
- Eat: Use leftovers in every which way. Stale bread can be made into crumbs for toppings (keep them in the freezer if you can’t use them immediately). Leftover vegetables can be made into bubble and squeak, Spanish omelette or added to soups. Even vegetable peelings (if washed) including onion skins can be boiled and used as a stock. Get more great ideas from our food columnist, Sarah Lockett.
- Heat: Make the most of your local library and coffee shops. If you’re at home during the day, or just want to have a change of scene, spend time for free at your local library or make use of your local coffee shop. For a £2.50 coffee you can read, get work done or meet people using someone else’s heating!
- Eat: Use your freezer. Keep it fully-stocked at all times to keep the electricity use down (pack it with loaves of bread if there are gaps). Store marked-down fish and meat from the supermarket here. blanche extra vegetables or fruit and freeze them. Put leftovers in an air-tight box and freeze for later. Even soups and gravy can be saved in small containers and frozen for use another day.
- Heat: Use someone else’s heating. Get into house-sitting and you can be paid to stay in someone else’s home for a week or more. Join a house-sitting agency to get jobs. You won’t make much (about £20 a day) but you will be in a different place and you won’t have to heat your home while you’re there. Or try Mindmyhouse.com – you don’t get paid to house-sit but at least you save on your own bills.
- Eat: Get free meals through mystery shopping. Sign up to mystery shopping agencies and get free meals in restaurants, drinks in pubs and occasional supermarket shopping trips for free, just for your opinion afterwards. Be careful, though. There are many bogus agencies on the net. Never pay to join an agency and check with our mystery shopping eBook to find out the genuine ones.
- Heat: If you use oil, buy with neighbours. 1.5 million households in the UK heat their homes with oil. If you’re in one of those get together with your friends and neighbours from the local area will get you a better price from your oil supplier. The supplier will only have to send out one tanker that way, and they’ll be able to pass the savings onto you. See more in our cheap heating oil article.
- Eat: Swap with friends. Do you have sauces, spices or bags of lentils in your cupboard that you haven’t used for a year and you’re not likely too? Why not have a swap-shop with friends so that you get new foods and spices from each other?
- Heat: Stop all draughts. By using draught excluder seal around your windows and doors, you can eliminate chilly draughts running through your home. It’s really easy to install and makes a surprisingly big difference. Wickes does 10m of white excluder roll for £3.79.
- Eat: Do ‘pot luck’ parties with friends rather than making all the food yourself. Get everyone to bring a dish or a whole course. You coulddo the main course and provide the entertainment (no that doesn’t mean doing a fan dance in the buff…well, not unless that’s your thing).
- Heat: Use the Chop Clock from Nigel’s Eco Store. It’s a great gadget that switches off your heating for a short time once an hour. It doesn’t make it colder in your home, it just stops it heating unnecessarily. It can save you up to 16% on your heating bills.
- Eat: Get our cheap recipe book for a host of amazing recipes to feed your family for less. It’s written by our food blogger, Sarah Lockett, who has two children of her own and knows what it’s like to keep the family happy and fed well!
- Heat: Switch to a cheaper provider (yes there are some) and, ideally, fix your rate so that you won’t pay more when prices go up…as they will. We’ve teamed-up with UKpower to get you the cheapest deal in your area. Go on now and switch!
1. Be creative
2. Use up everything you have
3. Share and swap with friends
4. Get as much as you can for free