Tuesday, 19 March 2013

# 43 (2013) Turning Down The Heat

Many of us now know what Fuel Poverty feels like. We dread the next bill. Many of us are turning our heating down or, like me, off all together. Now that I'm living on my own I can regulate my bills and in those two weeks I have already saved £15 on my gas bill which says a lot about the person I used to share with. Or maybe it says a lot about me. Who knows. But I'm not going to lie. It's cold here.
I move house finally at the end of April so I have just over 6 weeks to make sure my gas and electricity accounts break even so I don't owe them anything. I pay the same amount by direct debit every month and give regular metre readings as part of my package so I know my bills are accurate. This means that the OCD sufferer in me has been satisfied with making a spreadsheet to predict each months bills. This is handy when you're trying to balance the accounts in a predicted amount of time. I can even break down how much I use each day.  If nothing else, it means I have no nasty surprises when the bill comes in. It's just one more money stress I don't need right now.

Gas is by far the most expensive fuel to use. As I live in an old house that is badly insulated and given to damp, heating it is mostly a pointless exercise. And so I have resolved to switch off the heating. I now only use gas for cooking, bathing (sadly also rationed) and I sometimes allow an hours heating in the morning if it's been particularly cold.
I've worked out that if I continue to not heat my house I will have saved about £70. The down side is I am relying on a small convector heater to keep me warm. I only use it in the two essential rooms in the house - the bedroom and the front room. At the moment the cost of this isn't horrendous but I have six weeks to find 22 days of non heating with either gas or electric to make sure both accounts are in credit when I leave here. I am hoping there are improvements in the weather in April. Just a few degrees warmer outside and I can tolerate the cold inside. Never before have I hung on so keenly to every word the weather reporter says.

I've never had to regulate my fuel costs to such an extreme before. It's a sign of the times that many of us cannot afford to adequately heat our homes. Of course, this could be a good exercise in part. We have used and abused our fuel reserves over the years and done untold damage to our environment by excessive use and wastage of fuel. Learning to be a bit fuel savvy and to respect what we have may not be so bad. And for many of us, keeping warm with blankets instead of bumping up the thermostats is probably not the end of the world.

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