Paying cash and haggling: 15 ways to save money this winter | UK cost of living crisis

IInflation is over 10% and millions of people are struggling with their finances. And that was before dreaded winter heating bills and huge increases in mortgage costs plunged households into despair. Britain is in the grip of the worst cost of living crisis for a generation – and we are only at the start.

So what can you do now to actually lower your bills? Even the usually exuberant Martin Lewis seems crestfallen as standard money-saving hacks like switching utility providers bear little fruit these days.

Yet there are still easy wins and sneaky savings that will make life this year a little more tolerable. Do all of this and you’ll potentially save thousands of dollars over the next 12 months.

1. Follow each of these home heating tips

We should all know by now to turn the thermostat down one degree. The Energy Savings Trust estimates that your annual heating bill increases by around 10% for every degree the thermostat is raised. Don’t forget to bleed the radiators.

Adjust your boiler correctly. Like what ? said, you really only need your boiler on its highest setting in the depths of winter. Otherwise, your boiler is unnecessarily heating water to a very high temperature and wasting energy.

Prevents heat from escaping. An open fireplace allows £65 of hot air to escape up the chimney. “Chimney sheep” wool door draft excluders from £20, or make your own (breathable materials are best).

Windows lose about a fifth of the heat in your home. Close the curtains as soon as the sun goes down. Put cling film on your windows for additional exclusion of drafts. Thermal curtains retain some of the heat, but cost £20-50.

Stripped floors are nice but it’s like leaving the window open. Draft resistant the gaps quickly and cleanly with almost invisible v-shaped plastic from £20. Push carpet scraps under the couch for extra insulation.

2. Reduce your electricity bill

The fastest and easiest way to reduce your electricity bill? Switch all your lights to LED and reduce your lighting bill by almost 90%. Bulbs are now widely available for under £1.

3. Return to the office this winter

A typical house uses around £7 a day of gas during the coldest months of the year (depending on the size of your house, the age of the boiler etc). If your commute is cheaper and you’re not buying £3 coffees and £6 lunches, it might be worth showing your face at the office. Turning off your home computer should also save you an extra 50 pence a day.

4. Save £85 haggling on broadband

Do not be nervous. Which? surveyed 5,000 readers, and although just over half did not dispute their broadband and mobile provider, those who did saved an average of £85 a year. And they said they found it quite easy. A third managed to continue the “introductory” offer 12 or 18 months after it expired. Just tell them you got a better offer elsewhere and ask them to match it. But be realistic and polite.

5. Reduce your council tax bill

This is one of the most popular tips on MoneySavingExpert, with typical savings of between £100 and £400 if your home has been badly banded. But it takes a bit of legwork; check the Valuation Office Agency website to see if you’re paying more than your neighbors, then do a valuation check (MSE has a calculator). It can backfire on you; a head of household on a street in Hull asked for a change from tax bracket B to bracket A. Instead, the council moved all the houses to bracket B and almost everyone received bills higher.

6. Stop the home insurance scam

Many owners have a naive loyalty to the Home Insurance policy that was sold to them years ago by the bank or building society when they took out their mortgage. Some are charged up to £1,000 a year for insurance which can be found for £250 with just a few clicks on a comparison site.

7. Save hundreds of dollars on your monthly mortgage bill

If you’re sinking financially, ask the lender to extend the term of your mortgage. Say you have 12 years left on a £150,000 loan. When your current patch ends and new rates (of around 6%) come into effect, the cost will be around £1,470 per month. But if you extend the loan to 25 years, the cost would drop to less than £975 per month.

You can also request to switch from “refund” to “interest only”. On a £200,000 loan at 6%, switching to interest only reduces the monthly bill from £1,289 to £1,000. But you will of course not repay the loan.

8. Stop wasting food

Sainsbury’s estimates indicate UK households are dropping out 914 million potatoes, 733 million tomatoes and 728 million carrots every year. One in five say they don’t really know how to cook.

Best tips? Never go to the supermarket without planning your meals for the week, says Lesley Negus of the ThriftyLesley food blog, and don’t get distracted in the aisles buying things you don’t need that will probably end up in the trash.

Jamie Oliver posts free budget recipes for families and shopping checklists on his website.

If videos are your thing, try chef Ash Hamilton of the Curious Kitchen in Brixham, Devon, who has set himself the task of feeding a family of four for £25 over five days, posting the meals on Youtube. It was during the pandemic, and he admits the cost will be a bit higher today. But they are tasty.

9. Do a Benefits Check

Millions of people are missing thousands of pounds. Check what is rightfully yours Turn2us website; all UK debt advisers recommend it. It also offers advice on obtaining grants and help with energy bills.

10. Wash your clothes in cold water.

Detergent manufacturers say there’s really no need to set your washing machine above 30°C or run it for more than 60 minutes for most clothes. Towels and sheets may need 40°C, but that’s it, according to Persil.

11. Pay cash

Tap-and-go is ubiquitous and super convenient. Try going back to the 90s and paying cash; watching £100 in notes slip through your fingers brings sobering reality to your spending.

Have two bank accounts – one with your basic direct debits (rent, gas, electricity, etc.), so you can get a good idea of ​​what you have left after they’ve been deducted; and another just for expenses.

If you are already in one of the newer banks like Starling or Monzo, you probably already have an app telling you how much you’ve spent on flat whites in the last month. But, used well, their apps can be brilliant at giving you insight into your spending and where you can cut.

There are also plenty of standalone apps that help you budget, such as Money Dashboard, which lets you connect all your accounts with UK banks and set budgets, and warns you of overspending.

12. Reduce your childcare costs

It now costs on average £274 per week for a place in a full-time crèche for a child under the age of two. But some parents are entitled to free daycare for two-year-olds if they have certain benefits. If you work in England, each parent is entitled to 570 hours of free childcare per year for children aged 3 and 4, which equates to 15 hours per week during school terms.

You are entitled to an additional 15 hours a week if you are a parent working at least 16 hours a week at minimum wage or above, up to a maximum of £100,000. Learn more about the website.

13. Switch to a water meter

The general rule is that if there are more bedrooms in your house than people, it’s probably worth upgrading to a water meter. Take your last water bill and access the calculator at by the independent Consumer Council for Water, to find out how much you could save.

14. Drive smoother

Excessive speed is the easiest way to waste gas money. Driving at 80 mph on highways is not only illegal, but can consume up to 25% more fuel than maintaining a constant speed of 70 mph. The same goes for quick starts at lights or quick braking – they all drink fuel.

“Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking,” says the AA. You should try to up a gear whenever the rpm reaches 2000 in a diesel car or 2500 in a gasoline vehicle.

What is the best speed for driving? “Generally, cars are most efficient at 45 to 50 mph,” says the RAC. And remove an empty roof rack or roof box – they add drag when you drive faster, making your car much less fuel efficient.

15. Enjoy a European vacation for next to nothing

Vacations are one of the first luxuries to be cut in times of crisis. But there are ways to vacation across Europe and stay in fabulous accommodation on the cheap. is a community of 180,000 cyclists from around the world who open their doors to other cyclists who ride. It’s about reciprocal hospitality – you’re supposed to greet other cyclists when they message you, and vice versa. No money changes hands except for the $30 (£25) entry fee (it’s a non-profit organization that started in Colorado). It’s like Airbnb, except you don’t pay.

Or stay in a stranger’s house – while they stay in yours. Home exchanging can significantly reduce your vacation costs and allow you to live like a local. Sign up on one of the housesitting websites, such as

There are many commercial home exchange websites linking homeowners both nationally and internationally with fees ranging from around £50 to £150 per year. Popular sites include HomeLink, HomeExchange and the Guardian website, Caretaker’s house exchangemanaged by Home Base Holidays.

Disadvantage ? You’ll need to seriously clean and prepare your home just before you leave, make room in the closet and leave out crisp towels and linens. And it helps if your home is close to an internationally renowned area like Edinburgh, Oxford or Bath.

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