The winter can be a tough time. Suddenly the frost rolls in, you’re huddled under blankets, and your heating bill is going through the roof. Many of us feel like we have to choose between a warm home and a full belly. But is choosing between eating and heating really necessary? Can’t we have both?
A lot of families in the UK are struggling to choose between keeping cosy and enjoying three meals each day. You’re not the only ones.
So how do you win the war between deciding whether to heat or eat this winter? Read on for tips…
According to uSwitch 1.6 million households expected to have to choose between eating and heating ahead of winter 2019/20. More than a third were worried about having to pay their heating bill.
Having to make this decision isn’t good for anyone. Avoiding utility bills and getting into arrears can impact your credit, so it’s important to find ways of cutting money elsewhere if you’re going to afford the heating and your weekly food shop at the same time.
Putting some woolies on just won’t do
When you start to feel the first nip of winter in the home, chances are you tend to reach for an extra layer, some slipper socks and a hot brew to keep you toasty. While you can probably find numerous ways to stay slightly warm and avoid turning the heating on, did you know your house could be feeling the wrath of winter too?
Without heating circulating throughout your home, damp can develop. If you own your home, unfortunately in the long-term this will cost you more money. Not only that, but damp can damage your family’s health, particularly if younger children live in the home.
To keep your family healthy without spending too much on the heating, aim to keep your home at 18°C at the very least. You could even download an app onto your phone that helps you keep on top of your home’s temperature when you’re out.
Keep your costs down for a full belly and a warm home
Having to make the decision between living in a cold home or limiting the amount of food you eat should never be a decision you have to make. Choosing between eating and heating isn’t ok, and shouldn’t be something that anyone has to do. If you worry about the cost of your heating bill or food shops regularly, there’s plenty of ways to make the two cheaper, without sacrificing your health and happiness.
Check the house
- Give your boiler the once over. Have a registered engineer service your boiler to make sure it’s running as well as it could be. When your boiler isn’t up to scratch, you can end up spending more money on your heating than you should.
- Take a trip around your house and make sure the door seals aren’t broken or haven’t slipped out of place. You wouldn’t believe the amount of cold air that can make its way through a tiny gap.
- If you’re not using a room, close the door behind you. It’ll stop heat escaping into rooms that don’t need it.
- Check out different energy suppliers regularly. More often than not, you will save more money by switching than you would staying with your current supplier. Being loyal to one company doesn’t necessarily work in your favour when it comes to the energy industry!
Hack your food shop
- Each week, make a plan of the food you will need for the days ahead. You could even plan to cook a batch of the same meal and freeze what you won’t use that week. Spending 20 minutes or so planning out the week ahead can save you a tonne of money in the long run.
- Never go shopping when you’re feeling peckish! It’s a mistake that so many people make, one that can cost you pounds each time you shop. If you’re hungry, you’ll end up throwing in a few snacks into your trolley. Food that you didn’t plan to buy doesn’t need to be there.
- Keep an out for the best supermarket offers. You’ll begin to notice that each store will have different offers. If you have a few local supermarkets close to one another, it might be worth checking out their deals and splitting your weekly groceries between them, rather than sticking to one.
These are just a few simple ways you can start to make savings to the cost of heating and food. If you have any of your own, feel free to share them with us.
if things are really bad and you need help now
There are some other things you can do:
- Use the calculators at Turn2Us and EntitledTo to see if there are benefits that you could be getting but haven’t claimed yet
- Join your local Credit Union and get help with budgeting and saving
- Contact Christians Against Poverty for help with your finances and possible access to emergency help
- Go to your local food bank for supplies. Find your nearest one at the Trussle Trust
- Read the recipes on food writer Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap blog
Follow these tips, and we hope you won’t have to choose between eating and heating ever again.