/ Home & Energy

Jumpers instead of heating – how you’re cutting back this winter

Have you been forced to slash your Christmas spending? We found that most Brits are cutting back to pay for rising energy bills. Energy should be more affordable and we’re delivering this message to MP Chris Huhne.

Christmas. A time of jolly merrymaking, giving, sharing and tradition. However, this year’s Christmas may be very different for households up and down the country.

Our research found that six in ten people are worried about the cost of energy this festive season, with the vast majority (83%) making cutbacks to keep energy costs down. We also found that over half are putting on extra clothes indoors, and more than four in ten are turning the heating down.

Energy prices have risen by almost 20% in the last six months and, with the average annual energy bill standing at £1,345, it isn’t surprising that this Christmas will be one of hardship and cutbacks for many Brits up and down the country.

Your Christmas cutback stories

Last week we hit the streets and the web to ask people what they were cutting back on to help pay for their energy bills. We received a staggering response and the majority agreed that their Christmas was going to be one of cutting back as bills rise.

We received a broad range of comments, including people who share bathwater, families who have no heating on at all and others who have sold their cars or even downsized their property to help pay for energy.

Carol shared the wide range of ways that she’s had to resort to use less energy:

‘Stopped Christmas lights outside the house. Only have the TV on for a couple of hours and no radio or music. Limit the use of the kettle by making a flask of coffee or tea. Have the heating set to 16˚C. Wrap up in several layers of clothing and if I’m very cold, put on my coat.’

And then there was Lorraine who is really feeling the pinch this Christmas:

‘We won’t be having turkey for Christmas lunch as it is too costly, but have bought a cheaper joint of meat that was on offer earlier in the year to freeze. Have looked for bargains, vouchers and reduced the amount spent on gifts and cards overall. Generally making cuts in all areas this year.’

And Which? Conversation commenter Liz told us about her efforts to cut energy bills:

‘I put the heating on for the first time on December 4th. Until then I didn’t even have hot water on tap, I just heated a small amount in my kettle when I needed it, as I found that my gas boiler uses quite a lot of energy when it’s just left on.’

In light of this, we want the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne to make affordable energy his number one priority for the New Year. Today we’ll be delivering your comments (as well as a festive jumper) to remind him that this Christmas will be one of cutbacks, cold houses and fewer presents. Are you with us?

Comments
Guest
Margaret Murray says:
22 December 2011

I can’t believe how much my electricy & gas has gone up over the last 12 months. I was paying £27 per month this time last year then it was increased to £58 in October. I am currently unemployed so this was stressing me out. I contacted EON on Tuesday and explained the situation to them, also I mentioned that when I did a compare.com it appeared I would be better off with Npower. That sure made them think about it and with that one phone call I was automatically switched to £40 per month (saving £18), then they agreed to send out someone to read my meters on 6th Jan, also to look at any insulation they can help me with (for free).. so at the moment I am happy to stay with EON (but let’s see what happens in Jan). However, in the meantime I don’t have the heating on much and I’m currently sitting here typing this with 4 layers of clothing as I can’t afford to have the heating on. I have updated EON with meter readings but they are still basing my costing on estimated readings, so I’m still in doubt and might consider switching come the New Year. Watch this space really!!!

Guest
Malcolm Fry says:
23 December 2011

One piece of advice, when using switching websites, including the one operated by Which. When they ask you for your current usage, always, if at all possible, enter your usage in Kwh, rather than in £, and enter the usage for the most recent FULL YEAR, for which you have bills. Whilst it is possible to enter to enter your use from just the last bill, and do it in pounds, it inevitably produces much less accurate results. You are likely to find yourself on an unrealistic payment schedule, or even with the WRONG supplier.

Guest

Good point Malcolm, and if you have an online account previous bills should be readily accessible. If you have not kept paper copies of bills a call to your energy supplier will provide the information needed.

Another thing to consider is whether your use is likely to be higher or lower for any reason. For example, anyone retiring is likely to start using a lot more energy for heating if they will be at home most days.

Guest
John Wells says:
22 December 2011

Dispite installing loft insulation, Cavity wall insulation, double glazing, it seems that the power companies are raising the charges to maintain the same revenue even though the amount of energy I use has reduced. I suspect that this is not a accident. It does not matter what each domestic user does, the energy suppliers are allowed to increase their costs.
I used to work for a company whos energy usage was huge. They were able to arrange energy costs which were one third of those charged to you and I.
Those in a position of power will extract the maximum from those who are not. i.e you and me.

Guest

I agree with Mr Wells the energy companys are really too big to fail, we on the other hand fit energy saving bulbs,have cavity wall insulation fitted and have double glazing. This action on our part then produces less revenue for the energy companys and so they are forced to increase energy prices to maintain the level of income, while you and I have to suffer for their share holders. The goverment should be looking into the monopoly that they have. The majority of energy suppliers get their energy from the same source so why the wide range in tariffs.

Guest

We have to agree with the other folks that have commented on the high energy costs, We have only just put our central heating on 16 Dec as it has been mild , like other folks we are wearing more jumpers, boiling kettles less and buying very cheap cuts of meat. We are in our 60’s so we do seem the cold more!!! We have the added problem of now being retired are at home more rather than using our employers heat!

Guest

I am unemployed at the moment and there’s no way I can afford the energy bills. I only have electricity. I lie alone. I use my heater only when I get dressed/undressed for bed, exercising and for taking showers (which I have also cut down on).
I have watched the temperature in my home drop to 10 degrees centigrade this month. At this point, my hands and feet are very cold. I wear a coat and hat all the time while I am indoors. Still, when I am sitting down, I quake like a leaf. This concerns me because I have a heart condition which makes me more susceptible to hypothermia. January and February are traditionally the coldest months and I do not look forward to them. I really hope the jobs market picks up next year.

Guest
Malcolm Fry says:
23 December 2011

You mention a heater, but don’t say what type. If it’s not a Quartz Halogen one, invest in one! They are really cheap, usually less than £20. They tend to have a rating of 300W to 900W, or 400W to 1200W, which means they have a running cost (assuming you are on a sensible tariff) of between 4p and 18p, per hour, depending on which you have, and how many elements you have on (there are normally 3). The great advantage with them is that they are virtually 100% radiant. They don’t rely on heating the air, just the objects, and people, at which they are pointed, so provide maximum heat, almost instantaneously. I wouldn’t pretend they will make a room “cosy”, but they are the cheapest way to provide, at least, some standard of comfort!