Tips to save money as Britain freezes in plunging temperatures

Five Martin Lewis-approved ways to save money during the winter freeze

  • Household bills and costs of food are rising at levels not seen in 40 years 
  • Money expert Martin Lewis has explained ways to keep the costs low this winter
  • Hacks include drying your washing outside and checking your tax code 

As colder days begin creeping in, the heating can become a hot topic in many households.

But with household bills and costs for food and petrol rising at levels not seen for 40 years, many households will struggle to afford food let alone gas and electricity bills.  

However, money expert Martin Lewis, 50, from London, has compiled a few hacks that will may heat you up while keeping those costs low, as the winter months take hold and temperatures plummet. 

Among the pieces of Martin’s advice are drying your clothes outside, and rationing energy. 

Household bills and costs of food are rising at levels not seen in 40 years. Money expert Martin Lewis (pictured) explains ways to keep the costs low through winter

1. TURN THE RADITORS ON ONLY WHEN NECESSARY

The money saving expert previously revealed it is cheaper to switch heating on and off throughout the winter months to adjust the temperature as you need it, as opposed to leaving radiators running on low all day. 

While some refuse to turn the heating on until temperatures drop to a certain degree Martin wrote in his weekly newsletter back in October 2020 to help those who have taken the plunge and fired up the radiators.

Martin said the best way to save money using your heating is to use it as and when needed, explaining: ‘Having the heating on only when you need it is, in the long run, the best way to save energy, and therefore money.’ 

Martin urged customers to take a look at his ‘Energy Mythbusting’ guide where he provides tips and advice for those trying to spend less on their bills.

There he makes reference to the Energy Saving Trust, an organisation dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and the use of sustainable energy, which suggests the concept of leaving the heating on a low heat all day is a myth.

Instead, they advise people to only use the heating when they need it, in order to save energy as well as money.

Adding to the debate on the MoneySavingExpert site, Martin Lewis said: ‘A timer is best as your thermostat turns your heating on and off to keep your home at the temperature you set.

‘The key thing to understand here is that it’s all about the total amount of energy required to heat your home.’

Simple things such as rationing your energy could help save money. Turn off lights and dry your washing outside could help reduce costs this winter 

2. BOOST YOUR STATE PENSION 

Earlier this week, Martin shared tips on how you can turn £800 into £5,500.

He told his BBC Sounds podcast listeners about a pension hack, but warned that the chance will expire in April.

He urged anyone aged between 45 and 70 to ‘act fast’ on boosting their state pension pot; this costs £800 but would see an average return of £5,500.

The finance guru advised everyone to take note of his advice and help to spread the word for anyone affected by the changes made as of 2016, with certain arrangements ending in April next year.

The Money Saving Expert explained that on April 6 2016 they introduced the new state pension.

3. RATION YOUR ENERGY USAGE 

Speaking last month, Martin suggested the hardest-pressed Britons may have to ration energy this winter. 

Martin told Good Morning Britain viewers: ‘There is very little anybody can do personally right now apart from cutting their own usage. 

‘We should all be trying to do that if we can and if it doesn’t impact your life, it’s a personal question for you, I’m not dictating.

‘But looking both from the environment and for energy security over the winter and for your own bills, it’s useful to do going forward.’

The personal finance guru said middle earners could be among those unable to pay their bills as average energy costs could hit £5,000.

In the past power rationing has been seen in the form of three day weeks and rolling blackouts. 

Today, however, it would look different as the UK said it would not follow Germany’s lead in putting emergency measures in place to ration gas. 

So at home simple things such as switching off lights, putting your radiators on a timer, not leaving the hot water running and switching off appliances could all help you preserve your energy, consequently keeping costs lower. 

 

For those who hit stage pension age after that date, anyone under the age of 70 now, have been put on the new state pension.

Martin said: ‘As part of that, transitional arrangements were put in place. Those arrangements end this tax year on April 5 2023, and that is why there’s an urgency for what I’m about to say.’

He explained that to get a full state pension when you retire you will need around 35 years.

Martin then issued advice to help anyone get the maximum amount of years, encouraging those who are not yet at state retirement age to go on Gov.uk and look up their state pension summary.

And for those who are already state pension age to check their national insurance record, which explains how many years of full contributions you have and whether you have any gaps in your record.

Martin then revealed that you can buy years missed to enable you to get a bigger pension pot.

4. CHECK YOUR TAX CODE 

Those with an ‘X’ on their pay slip to check they are on the right tax code – as the mistake could be costing them hundreds.

Martin addressed the matter last month on his ITV Money Show Live, after a viewer queried whether she might be entitled to a tax rebate as she believes she was overtaxed by £800.

The expert said those who believe they might have been placed on an emergency tax code should check for an ‘X’ on their pay slip – at the end of your tax code.

For example, if your tax code is 1257L – it would read 1257LX instead.

Those on emergency tax codes could also see 1257W1 or 1257M1 on their pay slips.

This typically happens when HMRC doesn’t have enough information about a person’s tax situation. It occurs most often when a person starts a new job.

Martin urged those who suspect they have overpaid to contact HMRC.

He said: ‘Millions of people are on the wrong tax code. Some are overpaying and are therefore due thousands of pounds back. Some are underpaying and are therefore going to get a shock as they’re asked for more money.

‘So it’s really important because it is your responsibility… to check your tax code.’

5. WATCH THE WEATHER AND WASH YOUR CLOTHES CAREFULLY  

Speaking on a special episode of Money Saving Live on ITV last month, Martin explained that by not using your tumble dryer you could save a lot of money as the average tumble dryer cycle costs around 38p.

And whilst this may not seem much, it can add up quickly, depending on how much you use the dryer. 

Whilst it is cheaper to use a heated airers or radiator the cheapest option is to watch the weather forecast and dry your clothes outside when possible. 

The main message Martin is trying to get across is to be mindful regarding your washing. 

Don’t do half loads, wait until it’s a full load and try and time if for when you can get your clothes outside to dry.  

Using your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle and drying clothes outside rather than in a tumble-dryer saves about £28 a year on your energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

If you also cut back the amount you use it by just one cycle a week you’ll save around £5 per year on your energy bills and £7 on your water bills (if you have a meter).

It also says that modern powders and detergents work just as well at the lower temperature so unless your washing is exceptionally dirty it shouldn’t make a difference.

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