52 Practical Ways to Save Around The Year – Chapter 10: Save Money and Economise in October
Beginning to feel chilly as winter sets in? October is a time we begin switching on our heating’s and gearing our homes for the winter. Do we need to amount all these formidable bills? Halloween is also coming up at the end of the month. Read on with payday loan direct lender Payday Loans Net, how to save money in October: On our bills and Halloween.
Read Chapter 10 to find out how you can save money on your expenses with tips about:
- Suggestion No. 1: Cutting your heating/energy bills – your home heating controls; blocking draughts; home insulation; grants for energy-efficiency measures; reducing your energy consumption
- Suggestion No. 2: Dealing with your energy supplier – energy tariffs; payment methods; using the same supplier; changing your energy provider; avoiding exit fees; make sure you are not overcharged; changing from pay-as-you-go meters
- Suggestion No. 3: Fun activities for half-term – seasonal autumn activities; inexpensive days out
- Suggestion no. 4: Halloween on a budget – its origins; celebrate Halloween; decorations; food & drink; traditional activities
Feeling the temperatures fall as winter approaches and the nights start drawing in, we naturally think about how we can save money on heating and fuel costs. Therefore, we continue our guide of ways to save £70 a week. We will look at simple things you can do to cut your fuel bills and how to deal with your energy provider. October is also the time of the first half-term holiday. We look at entertaining your children on their break from school with ways which don’t involve expensive days out. Finally, Halloween is a popular celebration. We show how you can organise a party for children or for adults without spending a fortune or make a family celebration something special.
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1. Energy Saving Tips
You don’t need to spend a lot of money replacing an old boiler or replacing old electrical appliances for energy-efficient ones to make impressive savings on your heating and energy bills. Some of the following measures take seconds to do, but they benefit you throughout most of the year.
Did you know that according to the Energy Saving Trust, if you turn down your thermostat by 1 degree Celsius, you can make savings of £85 per year for an average home? Just think of how much money you can save by putting on a cardigan or jumper.
You can also save money if you turn down or off the radiators in rarely-used or empty rooms. Also, use the timer to make sure the heating is not on when no one is home or at night. You should set the timer to switch off 20 minutes before you leave in the morning; residual heat will keep the house warm enough.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the installation of room thermostats and TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) could add further savings of £75-£155 per year. (This is often the amount people require when applying for a payday UK.) For thermostats to work correctly, they rely on the free flow of air. So remember you should not block them by heavy furniture or curtains or near sources of heat like lamps.
Block Draughts to Keep in the Heat
Up to 30% of the heat from your home is lost through doors, windows and floorboards. To avoid this, you should draw curtains at night to act as draught excluders. You should also buy draught-proofing strips and adhere them around windows and at the sides and the bottoms of doors. Sealing the gaps in floorboards and placing a rug is also easy to do without any specialist knowledge. Don’t forget to block the chimney if it isn’t in use and exclude draughts entering through loft hatches. These simple measures can save £50 a year.
A third of the heat from your home is through the walls. A further 20% of the heat goes out through the roof. The way to prevent this heat loss is to install loft and (wall) cavity insulation. For roofs, it should have a recommended thickness of 270mm. Annually, loft insulation can save you £175. While cavity insulation will add savings of a further £140 on your fuel bills.
These measures cost much more than others we’ve explained in this guide. What can you do if you can’t afford to pay for them?
Financial Aid for Energy-Efficiency Measures
One way to pay for energy-efficiency measures such as insulation and even a boiler upgrade is to apply for a Home Energy grant. In general, they’re available for people who are recipients of tax credits, pensions and/or who earn under £15,000 a year. Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 and ask about whether you fit the eligibility criteria and how to apply.
Alternatively, some of the larger energy suppliers have grants to help consumers reduce their energy bills. The criteria vary from provider to provider, and there’s only a set amount of funding a year so you should contact your supplier to see if you can apply for a grant.
Reducing your Energy Consumption
You really shouldn’t underestimate the savings you can make if you reduce your consumption of electricity.
Would you believe that lighting accounts for 19% of your electricity bill? Common sense measures like turning off the lights when no one’s in a room or choosing the correct size of bulb for the size of a room can make a difference to your bill. However, you can see the biggest difference if you replace traditional light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones. Let’s take the example of LED bulbs. Not only do they use 90% less energy than other ones but they last 25,000 hours (compared to 1,000 hours for old-style bulbs). In their lifetime, LED bulbs can cut £180 off your electricity bill.
Making sure that you only use your washing machine/dishwasher when it’s full; washing at lower temperatures; not overfilling the kettle and allowing clothes to dry naturally instead of using the tumble dryer are guaranteed to save money. When you need to replace electrical appliances, choosing an energy-efficient one will cost you less in the long term. For example, an energy-efficient washing machine will cut £80 off your bill and a fridge-freezer £89.
2. Saving with Energy Suppliers
Apart from complaining about the cost, many of us don’t take a close enough look at our energy bills. This is a mistake since you can save oney in big ways if you check the tariff you pay, change the way you pay your bills and even think about changing your energy provider.
Paying your Energy Bills
Without a doubt, the best way to pay energy bills is by direct debit every month. Not only will you never forget to pay the bill but you can save £100 a year just by setting up this payment method. Some energy suppliers also offer additional discounts if you manage your energy use online instead of receiving bills through the post.
If you choose to use the same provider for all of your energy needs, you’ll be entitled to a ‘dual fuel’ deal. This will give you a discount on the price you pay. However, if you go for the cheapest supplier of each energy type, you can make additional savings of £20 a year (according to research carried out by the consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ in February 2017). The only thing to remember is that you’ll have to set up separate direct debits for both suppliers.
Changing your Energy Supplier
The most impressive savings can be made on your energy bills if you switch energy supplier after researching for the best deals on the market. The energy regulatory body Ofgem estimates that you can reduce your electricity and gas bills by an average of £300 a year if you change your energy provider. But how can you go about doing this?
The easiest way to check what are the best deals available is to use a price comparison site. ‘Which?’ has an independent one on its site although you’ll find many more by using a search engine. Price comparison sites have many limitations so use a couple to make sure you have an overview of what’s out there. You’ll need to supply details of your present tariff and how much energy you use in kWh (kilowatt hours); these can be found on your annual bill or by contacting your supplier. See the differences by entering a ‘dual fuel’ deal or by using different suppliers before you make a final decision.
Changing suppliers is a simple procedure, and you only need to have a copy of a recent/annual bill and your bank details. The new supplier will do the rest. Be assured that you will not get left without energy and the whole thing takes just over a fortnight. Changing your energy supplier can really save you a great deal and may help you avoid requiring the services of payday lenders.
Avoiding Exit Fees
If you’ve changed supplier relatively recently, it may not be so easy to switch. If you do, you may have to pay exit fees in order to switch suppliers. You should balance the potential savings against how much you’ll have to pay in these fees, and if you end up paying more, you could postpone switching until your fixed term comes to an end.
The only exception is if your supplier has recently put up its rates. In this case, no exit fees are liable since the price rise effectively has changed the terms of your contract (or fixed deal). Make sure your supplier does not charge you exit fees on your final closing bill.
Your energy supplier will give you notification when they plan to put up the tariff rates with a date from when this increase rate will take effect. On this day, check your meter and let your supplier know the reading. Generally, your bills are estimates so you don’t want to pay at the higher tariff for energy which you used before the price increase.
It’s a good idea to check your meter every 3 months. As your bills are estimates, you don’t want to have too much in credit with your supplier when this money can be in your bank account. If the estimates and your usage differ widely, you should let them know but bear in mind that energy costs get spread throughout the whole year, so you don’t have inflated bills in winter when your consumption rises.
Changing from a Pay-As-You-Go Meter
There’s no question that using a pay-as-you-go meter is the most expensive way to be supplied with energy. You can still save money by changing suppliers, but the best solution is to have a normal meter installed. If you’ve had financial difficulties in the past and owed arrears, your supplier may let you change but only on condition that you commit to pay on time for a certain number of months.
3. Fun Activities for Kids for the Half-Term
Once again, the children are off school and parents are left with the problem of what to do to entertain their children when the weather generally is unpredictable. What activities can you do with your kids in autumn and still continue to save money?
Seasonal Activities for Autumn
Autumn gives you a wealth of possibilities of things to do with your children, so they aren’t bored.
If you have a garden, now is the time to do those last-minute jobs to get the garden ready for the winter so why not get your children to help? Kids can dead-head roses and rake up leaves, and it’ll give them some fresh air instead of being stuck in the home all day.
Take your kids along to your local park and collect the materials from nature for art projects at home. Your kids can use autumn leaves make cards, collages and even hanging mobiles for their room while they can decorate acorns with faces and hair made from wool. If you played conkers as a child, why not teach your children the game?
October is also the start of the apple-picking season. Find out the location of your nearest pick your own farm as explained in Ch.7 and take the kids along with you. Once home, you can turn apples into simple desserts. With your children’s help, make baked apples (served with custard or ice cream), toffee apples, pies, crumbles and fritters. They’re such versatile fruit.
With Halloween coming up, search online to find decorations and masks which can be made at home and keep them for your own Halloween celebration.
Days Out Over Half-Term
The National Trust, English Heritage, the Woodland Trust and the Canal & Riverside Trust are just a few of the organisations that offer workshops and activities for the half-term holiday. The workshops and activities are entertaining, educational and help you save money at the same time. Check your local newspapers to see what other local initiatives there are in your area organised by libraries, community centres and so on.
Often cinemas have special morning and/or matinee showings during half-term and tickets are around £3 per child. Alternatively, watch a DVD together at home. Turn it into a real cinema experience by making ‘tickets’ and serving popcorn or other snacks.
If you feel like doing something more energetic, take the kids to your local indoor swimming pool since they often have special half-term deals. Or you could just take a walk in the park to play on the swings, play catch or feed the ducks.
4. Ideas for Halloween
Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve (which is where its name comes from) is celebrated on 31st October and has its origins in the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain. This is where people believed that spirits came back to destroy the newly-harvested crops. Dressing up in costumes and masks is believed to be one way to protect yourself from these malignant spirits.
In early Christian times, the tradition of ‘souling’ would take place when people would go from door to door asking for cakes in exchange for prayers. This was the origin of the ‘Trick or Treat’ custom. The significance of All Hallow’s Day on 1st November led to the superstition that Halloween was the last chance in the year for evil to roam before being banished by the sanctity of the following day.
Whether you decide to have a party for Halloween (for adults, children or both) or whether you choose to celebrate as a family, there are many ways to make the day special even if you’re on a budget. Let’s look at decorating, food and activities.
Halloween is a time many people reach out to instant payday loans to help them cover the cost of the holiday. However, you don’t need to! You don’t have to spend a fortune decorating your house and making it look spooky since the right atmosphere can be created by turning off the main lights and using red bulbs on the table or floor lamps.
Bakeries, even in the big supermarkets, often sell Halloween-themed biscuits and cakes or you might choose to make your own. There are many ideas online which you can bake yourself at home and help you save money at the same time. Biscuits, gingerbread and shortbread, are the easiest to make but must be shaped into suitably spooky objects; think about bats, mummies, skulls and broomsticks. Another easy recipe is to make meringue in the shape of ghosts.
Making drinks from juices like sour cherry or cranberry give kids the impression that they’re ‘blood’ cocktails or adding red food colouring to other drinks has the same effect and has them wondering how you did it.
Save money on Halloween Activities
Whether you allow your kids to go trick or treating depends on your neighbourhood. Apart from this tradition and dressing up, how can you make the day special?
It’s relatively easy to make a Jack O’Lantern. You could, of course, use a pumpkin as they do in the U.S (not forgetting to keep the inside to make a pie) but did you know that the tradition in the UK is to use a turnip? It is that the lantern could warn off evil spirits.
Another custom in Britain was to do apple-bobbing, which entails trying to catch an apple from a bowl of water in your mouth and without using your hands. You should hold a competition to see who’s the most successful. The apple can also be used to find who you will marry. Get single people to peel the apple with a knife and try to make the unbroken peel as long as they can. Then they should throw it over their shoulder – people used to believe that it’d fall forming the initial of the person they’d marry.
Just following some of the advice given above regarding reducing the heat loss from your house, cutting down on your energy consumption and switching your energy supplier can help you save money of at least £500-£700 over the year. Taking the time to make some small changes or asking whether you’re entitled to a energy-efficiency grant can pay dividends.
Entertaining kids over the half-term holiday doesn’t have to be a chore. There are many things you can do together which are related to autumn and still help you save money. One of these is preparing for Halloween. Simple home-made decorations, themed food and doing some traditional Halloween activities can make it a special day for both young and old and help you save money in the long-run.