HR is a broad church. Welfare was one of its original duties and at the moment that's back at the fore. Helping worried staff cope with their bills is valuable. By incorporating these tips into daily life our energy bill is almost £1500 less (yes! LESS) than was estimated by the energy company and the estimate was based on previous usage.
- The first thing is mindset. The idea of scrimping and facing huge bills isn't much fun, so from April 2022 we have tried to turn it on its head and treat it as a game of wits... . My particular motivation is that for every £10 we save, that's a bottle of Prosecco for us (not those rascally energy companies)! If we save more that's a meal out – or even a holiday.
- There's no one thing that saves a fortune – it's the cumulation of a lot of little things, but none of it is too onerous. It's just adjusting to different habits and keeping them up. It's so habitual now that we don't even notice.
- We are fit and well so we have the heating on at 17 degrees, three times a day for an hour each in the cold weather (it was a mild autumn so it was only on for an hour until the start of December).
- You get used to being at a lower temperature and feel OK with wearing layers with the heating at 17 or 18. When we stayed in a hotel recently we were nearly boiled at 22 degrees and had to turn everything off and even then had to stick arms and legs out of bed to sleep comfortably.
- We love Martin Lewis' phrase: “heat the human, not the house”. We do a lot of walking, so we have adapted walking gear to keeping warm in daily life. These days there's a good choice of colours and fit, so you don't have to look frumpy. Winter walking trousers are much warmer than jeans, and you can wear them comfortably with leggings or thermals underneath if it's really cold. Long sleeved breathable walking tops make a good base layer. The technology of walking stuff means the material dries faster when washed, which is helpful in the winter.
- We've invested in some wool jumpers. Much warmer than synthetic. Remember to get moth repellent – moths love wool.
- If I'm working in my office I get cold sitting so I wear sheepskin slipper boots and fingerless gloves. These “office” slippers are my secret weapon against the cold – and if you have warm feet you're less likely to succumb to colds and flu.
- Wear a hat if you're chilly – most of the body's heat escapes through the head.
- We tuck ourselves under blankets/ throws if we're just watching TV in the sitting room. Moving helps keep you warm and costs little or nothing – walking and cycling when we're outside. If you're watching TV, sewing or knitting helps you keep your fingers warm too.
- Our gas boiler has an economy setting (denoted by a button with E on it). If you have an economy switch/ dial (whatever) make sure it's on or you're heating the water in the boiler above the temperature level required and you're just wasting energy.
- We have a gas hob, so we swapped our electric kettle to a gas one. I measure the water that goes in so we don't boil anything surplus to requirement.
- Waste nothing – plan all your meals, make a shopping list, buy that stuff and nothing else.
- Buy in season. Cabbage is currently cheap. It's fairly boring boiled or steamed but I discovered recently that it is delicious roasted in the oven with garlic, chilli flakes and oil (only do when the oven makes a guest appearance).
- Frozen veg is often cheaper than fresh and it is as nutritious. More so than fresh in some cases.
- Eat hot food. It warms you up and it's easier to stay warm if you are warm. We make porridge in the morning, have soup at lunchtime and have a more substantial hot meal in the early evening.
- Use a slow cooker. It's a fraction of the price of a traditional cooker, the slow cooking brings out the flavour and you can make double or triple helpings, which you can chill or freeze, so that's several meals sorted out for later on. Heat in microwave when needed.
- I have always used a three-pan steamer for veg, but I now use it to cook rice in steamer pan 1 (the bottom one with the water in it),eggs in steamer pan 2 and potatoes in steamer pan 3. The three steamer pans sit one on top of another making a three pan “tower”. Again, a way of cooking three lots of food for the price of one, plus having the food done in advance which you can use later in the week so it saves time.
- If you're cooking pasta, bring the water to the boil for two minutes, then cover the pan and turn off the heat and wait for nine minutes. It saves about 48% energy if you do it that way. I turn off my slow cooker, pans and the oven five-ten minutes early now – the food still cooks OK, but it saves power.
- We hardly use the oven now – maybe once a month, but if we do it is ram full of things being cooked at the same time.
- Make soup – so cheap to make, great way to eat nutritiously, use up old veggies that are looking a bit weary but are still ok, can be made in slow cooker or soup maker.
- Washing up – pack dishwasher properly. We use it at night because we have a night rate and it's about half the price at night.
- Things we can't put in the dishwasher, we wash up by hand once a day. Just store them in a bowl out of the way and then do it all in one blitz using one lot of hot water.
- Wear outer clothes a bit longer and where something is not dirty but has acquired a spot or two, we sponge the spots where before we would have washed the whole item. If something is a bit less fragrant eg has picked up a cooking smell, we hang the clothes outside or at an open window. It means we now do a wash about every three or four days, not every day or even every other day.
- Washing machine operates at night time only to take advantage of night rate.
- Washing dries outside on the line if at all possible. If not, we hang the clothes on a frame next to a window that's partially open. It means you don't get that nasty musty smell when something has dried indoors for too long and you might have a breeze which facilitates drying. We never use the tumble drier.
- Keep showers short. The running joke here is keep the shower to three or four minutes, but you can sing as long as you like :-)
- We have reduced the electrical appliances we use and all switches are turned off at the wall when not in use. We don't charge mobiles overnight – only as long as needed. Radiators in rooms that are not used are turned down. We close curtains at night to reduce draughts and close doors to the colder parts of the house to keep the warmer air where we are.
- Our bed room is a bit chilly but we have brushed cotton fleece pjs, woolly bed socks (if needed) and turn on the electric blanket for half an hour before hitting the hay.
- We are lucky enough to have a small woodburner in our sitting room. We don't use it every day – it was about once or twice a week in November until the cold snap in December, then a bit more often. Wood is expensive so we are careful. When we light it, it's only for a few hours, but the warmth lasts for quite some time and heats the whole ground floor. And you can heat water or a pan of soup on top. I also put drying washing in front of it when we go to bed. We did manage to limit our costs a bit by ordering the wood early (last June) before the prices went up.
- We try to use free warmth from sunshine. If we have a sunny morning our sitting room is really warm just from the sun's warmth coming through the window. There is no need for additional heating, but we can sit/ work in there for a few hours to get the benefit. There's not much of that at the moment, but we certainly benefitted in the autumn when we had some lovely weather.
If you're an employer with HR queries and problems, get in touch!
Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.
Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.
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