Winter can be a difficult time for your finances – here are some tips to ease the burden.
Christmas can be a tough time of the year for everyone. Cold days and grey skies may well have you feeling down in the dumps. However, what might really get you down is what’s happening to your bank account.
Winter is expensive. There’s Christmas and New Year to deal with; if you’re self-employed its income tax time and of course there’s the issue of the cold. Our energy bills shoot up by around 50% at winter, and that leaves many people struggling, especially the most vulnerable.
Figures from The Energy Revolution suggest that 15,000 people died last winter because their homes were too cold. Other research also showed that more than 14 million homes turned off the heating at some point last winter because their bills were too expensive. Two fifths said they left their oven door open after cooking and a quarter said they wore warm clothes inside rather than turn on the heating.
So if you’re feeling the pinch, what can you do?
Spread your costs
Trouble starts because all the expense hits at once. Try spreading your costs over the year. Some energy companies will allow you to pay a fixed amount every month which means paying more in summer and less in winter. It does help you budget but if you’re not careful you could end up paying for more than you use.
If you plan ahead, you may be able to spread the cost of Christmas throughout the year. It’s an easy pledge to make, but less easy to keep.
Insulate your home
Cracks under doors and window sills can cause drafts. Sealing these up can have a surprising impact on how warm your house feels. You can try sweepers under the doors – these are metal strips which you simply screw onto the bottom or but insulation putty.
Run ceiling fans clockwise
Not many have them here in the UK and if we do we seldom use them in winter. However, running your ceiling fan slowly clockwise can help warm your room. Warm air rises which means the air at the top of a room can be much warmer than at the bottom. That’s why your feet get cold first. Running the fan slowly will take warm air up in the middle and slowly force it down elsewhere making the room feel warmer.
Pump up your tires
During cold weather the air pressure in your tires drops, which can have an effect on fuel consumption. Pumping these up will result in fewer visits to the petrol station – crucial if you regularly use your car for work or the school run.
Turn down the heat
Once you’ve taken these measures you may be able to get away with turning the thermostat down a degree or two. Many of us have them too high in any case. Try turning it down gradually to see how it feels. If it gets too cold, you can always pump it back up. Turn the heating off at night – you can always curl up nice and warm in bed and set the timer to come on just before you get up.
Aside from that, try saving throughout the year to build up a stockpile of cash for the winter (again, easier said than done) and add a few layers of clothes inside. If all fails, you can look at temporary sources of finance, but make sure you don’t force yourself too deep into debt.