Energy prices are skyrocketing and we’re told to watch our carbon footprint for the sake of the planet, so when I moved into an old house east of Hull in September last year, I used my smart meter and tried to save as much energy as possible. possible – here is what I found.
Money-saving expert Martin Lewis’s “heat the human” tips really work, at least if you’re young and healthy. In total I pay just under £80 a month in the winter for gas and electricity combined, and when I checked in early May 2022 I had £179 credit thanks to full overage with hacks energy saving.
In a nutshell, these cost-of-living tips were:
- Use electric blankets or even rechargeable electric gloves
- Lay down in warm clothes and wear slippers
- Eat hot meals to stay warm
- Walk and stay active
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I live in one of those yellow brick terraced houses you see all over Hull and mine has a rather poor energy performance certificate of E. After the first cold snap it became clear that it would be next to impossible to keep her warm. Pretty soon I gave up, turned off the heat most of the time, and decided to accept my drafty (ahem, well-ventilated) house for what it was.
Living in a cold and damp house is absolutely miserable but, for me at least, living in a cold and dry house is almost pleasant if you have the right equipment. As I toughened up, I could wander around the 15°C kitchen and it felt warm.
While the World Health Organization says it’s dangerous to live in temperatures below 18°C, I’ve never slept better than when the heater was off and it was 12°C in the bedroom . And historically, people had to put up with much colder homes, although it probably had an impact on their health.
In the 1970s, the average indoor temperature in a home was 12°C in winter, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and published in 2014. ice inside the windows, and almost everyone has accepted the need to wear thick clothes at home in winter,” the report says.
Luckily, I never saw any condensation or ice on the windows, but thick woolen clothes were definitely key to my comfort, giving the house a very 1970s vibe. Real wool is normally very expensive, but I was able to get bargains for under £8 at the Bag It Vintage Store in Princes Quay.
Another essential weapon in the arsenal of human warmth is an electric blanket. I bought mine from Argos in St Stephen’s shopping center and draped it over my lap while I worked from home instead of running the old, inefficient heating system.
I also never had hot water and got used to washing my hands in cold water which is just as hygienic as hot water according to the NHS – but obviously you need soap! The shower is electric and produces lovely hot water, but I limited it to five minutes a day as I saw the smart meter skyrocket each time.
Drying clothes is another opportunity to save money. A little known fact is that you can actually line dry clothes even when it’s freezing outside.
Your laundry may freeze solidly, but the ice evaporates by sublimation. Of course, the real enemy of drying clothes outside in the winter is the rain buckets we get for weeks on end.
When the weather was bad, I dried clothes on a drying rack in my south-facing upstairs bedroom and opened the windows as wide as possible, with the radiator turned off to save energy and the bedroom door closed to keep the rest of the house warm. Typically, clothes were dry within a day without having to use electricity.
In the 194 days from October 27 last year to May 9, I consumed 1,179.9 kWh of electricity and 4,808.5 kWh of gas. Meanwhile, a typical three-bedroom house uses 12,500 kWh of gas and 3,100 kWh of electricity each year, according to UK Power.
It’s now summer, the gas is off, and I’m well on my way to hitting numbers well below those annual numbers. Not a bad result for a largely uninsulated home where two people worked from home all day.
As for my actual bills, a lot of it depends on pure luck – I moved just before the energy prices went up and was able to switch to a cheap fixed rate before they went down. stop, per Martin’s advice. Until March next year I pay 19.21p per kWh with a permanent daily charge of 21.34p for electricity and 3.77p per kWh and a permanent charge of 20.64pa per day for gas.
The new energy price cap, introduced in April, is 28 pence per kWh for electricity with a daily charge of 45 pence, and 7 pence per kWh with a daily charge of 27 pence for gas. It’s just not affordable and I fear how much worse it could get in September when the energy price cap changes again.
I am considering getting a combi boiler and will continue to heat only one room in the winter, although I am aware of the privilege of having these options. For many, winter will be a difficult ordeal to bear and it is necessary to intervene.
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