Brace yourselves!

 Hi everyone,

Just call me Carol Vorderman! I’m going to have to get my maths head on today and work out how much energy I can afford!

Everyone has already had energy price rises. In November 2010, just before the worst winter in my lifetime, we had on average 10% increase in energy prices. We had no choice but to pay it. Everyone is now getting notifications, either by email or in letters of this year’s energy price hikes. British Gas have announced price rises of 18% for gas and 16% for electricity. Most energy companies have comparable price rises. I am on the cheapest tarrif I can find – NPower sign online 23 and I will face price rises of 15.7% for gas and 7.2% for electricity.

 We all know about the difficulties people with ‘fixed’ incomes have with price increases. Up and down the country, as usual, old people will end up in hospital or dead as they won’t be able to heat more than one room, if they are lucky, and many won’t even be able to afford that. Here in the countryside, many people rely on propane bottles which are twice the price of mains gas and they will now be priced out of heating at all. It also doesn’t surprise me that all the blood suckers come out of their dark holes and join in. If you use wood to heat your house, get it now!!!! It is going up and up in price.

Then, as well as fixed income folk having struggles, there are all the people who now have: no overtime, reduced working hours, reduced salaries, more pension contributions to pay. You all, like me have to get your calculators out today and work out what you can afford.

 Here are the reductions I am going to have to make. In the winter, my heating is on from 5pm until 9pm on a weekday and from about 12 noon until 8 pm on a weekend. Thirty one hours in total. I am going to have to cut that by 20% to be able to afford the £69 a month I now have to pay for gas. I will have to cut my usage down to 24 hours a week. There are 168 hours a week and I will have to have the heating on from 6pm until 9pm and at the weekends from 2pm until 8pm at the weekends.

I have electric ovens (mini and main), an electric kettle, electric shower and minor items such as the computer etc. I will have to reduce what I use by 10%. In case you’re wondering, here’s a recap of what I already do to save energy.

Heating is set to 17 degrees. I got rid of the tumble drier years ago. We shower and don’t have baths. We ‘let it mellow’. We use the mini oven instead of the main oven. We fill a flask from the kettle and use that to save reboiling. We batch cook when the oven is on. We keep the freezer full. We cook in a triple steamer to save gas. We only wash our clothes when they are dirty. We use the dishwasher every other day. We wear clothes to bed. We go to bed early and turn the lights off. Nothing is on stand by.

I have even investigated price fix tarrif for the next three years and those are already 11% higher than average bills. I have looked, investigated and costed. The only way to afford energy is to use less. Brace yourselves my lovelies, get down the charity shops and stock up on curtains to ‘double hang’, buy lots of wooly jumpers and cardigans, get quilting and layer your beds, stock up on coal and logs as I have a feeling, it’s going to be an expensive winter.

On that cheerful note, I will see you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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29 thoughts on “Brace yourselves!

  1. Hi, im on npower sign online 22 and I phoned them yesterday after receiving an email and was told that the prices on that tariff wont go up this time so you may be lucky!!, im still going to follow your advice and cut down the same as you as save the money for the inevitable next price rise. thanks for all the lovely easy to follow recipes and I hope Dearly beloved weathers the storm ok. Chris x

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  2. Hi christine, I spoke to N power on the 15th and was told that it wasn't likely to go up as it had already gone up in march and then had an email today about standard tarrif price rises, which also affect all tarrifs, although lower, their percentage increases are the same – i have less money and have to use less energy and still pay more

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  3. Oh wow I do feel for you. I live in the subtropical part of Australia. We struggle with the bills too. Over the last year our power has gone up so much. We recently installed solar panels and hope that our bill will go down.

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  4. I have been preparing for this winter since Jamuary,a nd still have lots to get, for all 4 of us.

    I have been using less now, to get into credit for the winter, and will pay a little extra into my account as i wont be workign and will need to heat the house, I am fixed until october 2012, so glad i did this now a year ago, but it will really hit next winter. I all of what you d to save, except i dont have a dishwasher, well i do the kids 🙂

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  5. I worry that pensioners never seem to be able to have a respite from all this. Even in the Summer, they're already worrying about whether they'll be able to keep warm this coming winter. And many pensioners will be forced to do the usual juggling act between eating and heating. Even their heating allowance has been reduced!

    Most of us will be able to make some changes to help ourselves but I really worry about those who are much older than I am, especially if we have another winter like we've had the past two years.

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  6. Hi, Froogs,
    I live `oop north` (although I lived in Devon before here) and we get a lot of weather! My husband is also facing redundancy, and we have been unable to sell our large house, which used to house six people and now only has the two of us. I`ll be using all the measures you recommend, plus all the ones I already practice – sometimes I feel I`m so tight I squeak when I walk! I have to laugh, or I`d cry! Lynn

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  7. It truly is a rip off. I so feel for the older folk!

    Lets hope the weather is kinder to us this year. we have had the walls insulated and the loft, as well as all the seals around doors and windows redone in the hope it will hold heat better.

    X x

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  8. I changed to Southern Electric last year and they led me to believe that it would be cheaper, ie lower monthly payments. Martin Lewis said that is mis-selling. I'm not sure now what to do.

    Within next week or two I will be having a new front porch, as mine is rotten, and whilst they are here they are bricking up the bottom half of my long window and putting in a little semi bay. Hopefully as it is north facing, it will be a little warmer, as wall is warmer than glass!

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  9. We try to avoid putting the heating on until November and then not after the end of March. I suffer from the cold most so I wear thermal undies for most of the winter, especially when I'm sitting down a lot. I have even worn a hat indoors! I find hand/wrist warmers to be very good; as simple as a (k2p2 rib)knitted square to fit round your hand and wrist slightly stretched and sewn up with a hole for the thumb. You can easily fold them back double as cuffs when you want your hands free. Also spreading out activity can get you warmed up periodically. Our thermostat stays at 18 max, too. And hot water bottles! With the cooled water going in the bucket to flush the loo, of course. A big pot of soup once a week for warming lunches. Our forebears did all this, with no central heating at all! At our age (same as you, FQ) we can do it, but as you say, what about the elderly?

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  10. Hi Froogs,
    I can't tell you how much you have inspired me to follow your path to live a simpler (and cheaper) life. We got rid of our awful electric storage heater in the lounge last summer and being a little bit disorganised we didn't get anything prepared or sorted for the oncoming winter and do you know what we didn't freeze to death (although I thought we would) we just snuggled in blankets and put more layers on. We are facing another winter without any heating in our lounge, although husband has bought a logburner, but I doubt it will be installed this side of Christmas!!
    I also have been quilting but am quite proud of myself as I have only used materials that I already had in the house and had to resist the urge to buy new, trendy fabric. One of my quilts that I am working on is using up all our old shirts – thank-you for the inspiration, I can't wait to finish it!

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  11. I think we have become obsessed with 'cleaniness' – young Mums seem to wash far more than they used to, simply because automatic washing machines make it easy. Making clean clothes last a few days instead of one wear/one wash saves a lot of money and energy [as does using less detergent and lower temp too]
    best wishes to you and DB

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  12. Hi froogs…well i hope i am prepared for this winter..got my fixed tariffs and my DD is set so hopefully with some careful timings we will make it through…i have lined all the curtains in the house..got doors curtains..bought lots of thick blankets from CS and carboots to layer up the beds..bought the 2 littlies hot water bottles and made covers myself…i am hoping that the choice of eating or heating doesn't come to it…hopefully our storing our veg and preserving it will coming in handy..one of my elderly neighbours is actually going to move in with her family over winter..my gran would do this and go home when it had warmed up a bit…
    It feels abit nippy here today..littlies have got cardys on..
    take care
    sara

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  13. This topic frightens me, i keep inputting my meter readings with southern electric and it tells me how much i have used.Dont use much gas as i dont put the boiler on but electric is really bad, i turn everything off and ive still spent £110 in the last quarter and thats with sitting in darkness and with only putting the washing machine on once every couple of days. Im wet and cold today, my neighbours and my drive started to flood so we have been out trying to clear it,( flooded 4 years ago and had to move out for a year)

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  14. hi lm – it frightens me too – i grew up without heating and can remember not washing for days and fumbling in the constant dark, also chilblains and a three month chest and ear infection that me and my siblings got every year. i remember leaving home and getting a live in job in a hotel and having endless baths and i kept washing my hair! i know what it's like first hand to not afford electricity! it is dreadful and I dread it even now~

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  15. we bought 3 cubic metres of wood the other week for £210.

    If we burnt wood all day, we may just be able to get 6 weeks from 1 cubic metre.

    That was the cheapest we could find it.

    we also have gas central heating. But we are going to make the wood last as long as we can. and will only put it in the stove at weekends when not at work. in the evenings after work we will have to just put up with it

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  16. Hi Froogs – up in the northern reaches of Englandshire I will be double curtaining, using draft excluders while turning off radiators in silly places like the kitchen! I managed last year without kitchen heat by wrapping up! We have lots of duvets and thick pyjamas! I go to bed early and watch telly in bed. I also have a three year old hot water bottle for the winter months ( and plenty of hte other months too 0 not recommended by the super nannies of htis world but aw schucks who cares!

    I unplug everything I can think of. I need to invest in a mini oven I feel. So will watch out for one on Freecycle. I try to batch cook too when I have to and steam while pot cooking as well.

    Silly question- When you double curtain do you use twice the curtain rings???

    Will def check out Npower.

    Hope DB job stuff going positively. Is truly pants the whole re structuring, redundancy thing been there!

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  17. Hi, my tarrif won't go up this time but I'm still going to cut down on what I use.
    My little lad goes to bed in the winter with a hot water bottle a thermal vest and fleeced PJ's on. We put extra blankets on the bed too! I also use my slow cooker lots and always prepare meals that last 2-3 days (stews, soups etc)

    When I was little, our house used to be freezing during the winter months and I often had chilblains. My dad had a coal fire and we had to ration what we used. It never did me any harm; I suppose it made me stronger in many ways.

    I spend hours thinking of ways to save money; my immediate family think I'm really tight but I don't care. Like most people I have debts but I'm trying to do something about it. Everything I have will be given to my son- he is my pride and joy and I'll do anything to make life better for him.

    My aim is to be debt-free in 2 years. I will then start saving for his future. xx

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  18. Wearing a stocking cap to bed helps sleep warmer, too. For my babies, I would take an old t-shirt & cut & fold it to have just one seam up the back to make a night cap. If I cut it just right part of the hem would be the ties for the cap, without having to sew them on.

    Love all your posts, Froogs.

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  19. I like the way you do your homework and have good advice! You just know there are people out there with big houses (we call them McMansions here!), huge SUV's and buy-buy-buy. No matter WHAT you say they will spend spend spend and moan about the economy. I can't feel sorry for them! Keep up the good work!

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  20. We moved up to Lincolnshire two months ago and inherited an Eon Economy 7 meter and are only now being hooked into NPower Online 22, which they have already told us is going up. And one problem with bigger or older (ie, draughtier) houses is that if you pile on the purple fleecy tops and Tibetan knitted slippers and don't keep the place heated it fills up with damp & mould.
    Incidentally, we are oil fired CH & hot water and electric everything else so will let you know how this and the septic tank pans out, bills-wise.

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  21. It really is obscene, many people can't afford to even keep warm, while the power companies declare massive profits distributed to a very few extremely rich directors and shareholders.
    Despite all power-saving practices, it's impossible not to use some heat in the typical North of England winter, switching central heating off entirely just means frozen water pipes and bursts.
    Usual “no-win” situation for the comsumer.

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  22. I read a tip last night that got me thinking: place a filled bookcase next to your coldest wall as extra insulation. This makes sense. It also makes sense to rearrange your furniture so that beds are on interior walls–arguably the warmest part of the room.

    If you plan to reduce the temperature in your rooms, don't do it all at once, or you will constantly feel cold and might not warm up until July, LOL. Ratchet the temperature down a degree at a time; when everyone is used to a temperature, take it down another degree.

    Good post, Froogs! My electricity is going up by 3.5%, although we heat and cook with natural (“mains”) gas. When one type of power goes up, they all follow.

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  23. I got my gas bill today and my 'end of year' summary. This told me to pay the same as last year, I would have to use nearly a third less gas. That means that to be as cold as I was last winter, then I will have to pay almost half as much again. I've only had the CH on twice since Christmas and used a halogen heater instead of the gas fire because it was cheaper to run. I froze last winter and am not looking forward to this one.

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  24. I can't believe this is 21st century Britain. We are back to Victorian times. Heating may come conveniently from the gas pipe, but we are still going to be freezing cold. I do have a fireplace in the front room, but it makes the house smell, so I don't like using it. I might have to rethink this year. It is absolutely crazy. I am working full time and earn above average and still I am struggling to afford the bills and food. How can the government allow this to go on, considering oil prices have fallen to 1998 levels? I just can't win. I try and save energy and no matter what I do, I always pay the same or more, even though I use less. That is just so unfair! I can't imagine how you cope on benefits.

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