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Winter warming tips to dodge hefty heating bills

Winter warming tips to dodge hefty heating bills

Category: Gas and electricity
31/10/2016

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE
This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, and there's a definite chill in the air, too. While some will automatically turn the thermostat up, others have more inventive tricks up their sleeve to beat the chill – and they could lower their winter heating bills in the process.

Research from TopCashback.co.uk shows that 71% of consumers are holding off turning the heating on by looking for cheaper alternatives, with 76% layering up with jumpers, 50% snuggling in blankets and 37% hugging hot water bottles before admitting defeat and switching on the heating. Others go even further with thermals (25%) and electric blankets (13%), while 54% cook warmer foods to warm up from the inside out.

But could this be a false economy? According to the survey, consumers are spending an average of £91 by stocking up on winter warmers, so it may not be the most cost-effective solution after all. Even after that cost, 42% give in and switch the heating on in October, with 46% admitting that deciding when to flip the switch can cause arguments in the home.

However, 5% are holding out longer than they did last year, which suggests that for some, the thought of excessive winter heating bills really does make them think twice.

Alternative planning

Many consumers also find their social plans change when winter hits, with 74% admitting that they've cancelled plans because it was too cold. Others make the most of the chance to save some cash, with 40% staying in to save money – and considering the average night out costs £62, this could be a sensible decision.

That doesn't mean they don't want to have a good time, though. The research found that 28% chill out with a "fakeaway" while 48% actually prefer drinking in the comfort of their own home with family and friends, and 11% even host homemade cocktail nights or house parties instead of hitting the clubs.

"With energy bills increasing, Brits are turning to low-cost solutions as a respite from the cold, as well as side-stepping nights out in favour of staying in," said Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs editor for TopCashback.co.uk.

"However, regardless of whether consumers are having a big night in or if they are planning to cuddle up on the sofa, switching energy providers always makes a big difference to monthly outgoings. Hundreds of pounds can be saved … one [TopCashback] member recently saved £300 by switching."

Big Energy Saving Week

The research coincides with Big Energy Saving Week, which starts today! It's a national campaign run by Citizens Advice designed to help people cut their fuel bills and get the financial support they're entitled to, and raising awareness of how to switch supplier or tariff is at the top of the agenda.

It couldn't be simpler to get started – head to our price comparison tool to see if you can find a cheaper deal based on your location and energy usage, and go from there! You could save a small fortune, but if you're on a fixed tariff or already getting the cheapest deal possible, there are plenty of other things you can try to lower your heating bill:

· Layer up. Follow in the footsteps of TopCashback's respondents and reach for a jumper, a cosy pair of socks or some snuggly slippers before hiking up the thermostat.

· Be energy aware. Simple things like turning lights off when you're not in the room, switching off the TV completely rather than leaving it on standby and only filling the kettle with the amount of water you actually need can all make a difference.

· Stamp out draughts. Check your door and window seals for any draughts (and re-seal as necessary), close the curtains at dusk to prevent heat escaping and invest in draught excluders – those sausage dogs are fun AND practical.

· Insulate. This may take a bit of financial input, but the savings can be huge. Loft and cavity wall insulation could completely change your home, and you may be able to get financial support to achieve it (contact Citizens Advice to see if this could be an option).

· Timer. If possible, put your heating system on a timer so it only turns on when you need it – set it to come on 30 minutes before you get up in the morning and to switch off before you're due to leave, for example, and then back on again 30 minutes before you return from work. You'll be cosy at all times without wasting money on heating you won't use.

What next?

Made a few simple changes? Then make a big one by switching energy supplier. Compare tariffs and see how much you could save.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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