Ongolo Proud African

Surviving winter without breaking bank on bills

Author: Muloongo Muchelemba
2 October 2022

Great Britain is facing a cost-of-living crisis. The inflation rate hit 9.9% in August 2022, the highest level in nearly 40 years. Rising energy costs are a major contributing factor as the post-pandemic demand continues to outstrip supply. The energy regulator, Ofgem, hiked the price cap by 54% from 1 April 2022, and implemented a further 80% increase from 1 October 2022. The government will try to ease the rising household bills during winter by providing a £400 subsidy spread over six months.

Consumers are stressed about rising energy bills | ONGOLO
Consumers are stressed about rising energy bills

Many Brits of African descendant are reflecting on their upbringing and looking for low-tech substitutes to keep winter bills low. Here is ONGOLO’s guide for the best way to tackle the five biggest energy cost categories according to Energy Saving Trust:

#1 Wet appliances - 14% of energy bills

Appliances such dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers use a lot of energy when heating water and drying. Small changes such as reducing the water temperatures and washing full loads rather than a pair of socks or a single mug, will save a lot of pennies.

The low-tech options, which will save pounds, include limiting the use of washing machines to only heavy-duty items like sheets and blankets. Nothing beats hand washing, especially for delicate items like lingerie. Plus, children can be drafted to work under adult supervision because stomping feet can be an effective way to wash a bathtub full of clothes.

Washing the dishes can be fun | ONGOLO
Substitute washing machines with hand washing and turn it into a bonding activity

I have never understood why people don’t like washing dishes. My household chore as a teen was to clean up after dinner. I would kick everyone out of the kitchen, blast my radio and sing my favourite tunes as the spirit of Monica Geller descended on me. I still don’t use a dishwasher even though every apartment I have lived in has one. It’s time to put Gen-Zs to work by creating a chores roster to spread the pain of doing dishes.

#2 Cold appliances - 13% of energy bills

No kitchen is complete without a fridge, and it is the one appliance that is constantly on. Ensure that you have a modern and energy efficient fridge and that you don’t keep your old fridge for too long because their efficiency decreases with each year. Make sure your fridge isn’t working too hard by doing the following: not leaving the fridge door open which raises the temperature; checking and fixing leaks, especially on old fridges; and not putting hot items straight in the fridge – let them cool down first.

#3 Consumer electronics - 6% of energy bills

Modern life is dominated by tech devices such as smartphones, televisions, tablets, and gaming consoles. Gen-X children grew up playing outdoors – rain or shine – while children today spend far too much time indoors. Simple activities like playing in the park and visiting museums (many of which are free in the UK) can reduce the reliance on gadgets for entertainment. Winter is also a good time to turn off the television and spend more time reading books or playing board games as a family.

Playing board games as a family as a substitute for watching tv | ONGOLO
Playing board games as a family as a substitute for watching tv

The use of space heaters also goes up during winter and can be minimised by dressing warmly indoors, huddling in the same room – what’s with everyone needing space these days? – and using indoor blankets. Now that many of us routinely work from home in our pyjamas thanks to the pandemic, working in fleece-lined sweats should not be a tall order.

#4 Lighting - 5% of energy bills

It was only when I became an adult, that I appreciated why my parents used to turn off the lights whenever I left a room for just a few minutes. Every penny counts. Energy saving bulbs that last two years will save you a lot of money. Go for a warm white colour rather than cool white, which uses double the energy. Where possible use lamps – they use less power than ceiling lights. And if push comes to shove, go for candles.

#5 Kitchen appliances - 4% of energy bills

We can also save money by changing how we use our favourite kitchen devices such as air fryers, ovens, kettles, and microwaves. How many times have you boiled a whole kettle of water only to make one small cup of tea? It’s a waste of energy. Do you cook every day? You may want to consider cooking for a few days and warming up the food instead. Leftovers are not everyone's cup of tea.

Consumers are using credit cards for everyday expenses | ONGOLO
Consumers are using credit cards for everyday expenses

Overall, the energy saving tips will require behavioural changes and sacrifices to be made. The question is: will people be willing to make them?

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