Emma Hollingworth: Heating bill leaves me out in the cold

Emma Says Web Tile
Emma Says Web Tile
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This week I am in the dog house. The gas bill has come through for the last quarter and it is nearly triple what we normally pay. And in the other half’s eyes there can be only one person whose fault this is – me.

So as a consequence I have been well and truly sent to Coventry. There is a distinctly frosty air in the house. Even the children appear to be giving me the cold shoulder, by stopping me putting extra hot water in their baths and quickly running into their pyjamas after bath time instead of enjoying the luxury of sitting beside a warm radiator wrapped in cuddly towels straight after a warm bath.

At first I protested that the gas company must have got the bill wrong, or that maybe they sneaked up their prices without telling us. “Yes”, the other half snapped. “They did put them up – by 30 per cent, but not so that the bill would be triple what we paid this time last year!”

All winter he has been telling me to turn the heating down as we would be hit with an extortionate bill sooner or later. He even resorted to following me around and turning the thermostats down when I wasn’t looking, so concerned was he. But I kept telling him not to fret, that a little bit of extra heating wouldn’t cost the earth! How wrong I was.

But in my defence there is a reason for this extravagance of mine. We have been having the house gutted and extended and this has resulted in what can only be described as a series of holes throughout the building.

The kitchen was taken out in mid-October so the builders could smash through the concrete floor in order to create a bathroom underneath it in the basement conversion we are constructing. Floorboards were then inserted and the kitchen rather haphazardly reinstated.

The plan had been that the new kitchen extension would begin to be built just a few months later and the old kitchen would be redundant, making way for the fab new all singing and dancing extension we have planned.

Sadly events conspired against us – namely a party wall dispute with the neighbours – resulting in the whole kitchen plans being put on hold. The upshot of this is that we have been left with a kitchen riddled with holes with cardboard shoved over missing tiles or holes drilled for pipework for the basement.

On top of this we have had the whole house re-wired, which has resulted in walls being chased out exposing century-old brick work; skirting boards left hanging off the walls and floorboards still up in various areas, where carpet has been roughly pulled back to make way for the wiring.

All of this has left the house draughty and cold. There are pockets where it feels like the house is in the Arctic and then in direct contrast there are areas where it is sub-Saharan conditions as the heat rises and leaves the top of the house crazily hot. Our thermostat for the top two floors reads over 20 degrees while the bottom can show a 10 degree difference; such is the madness in which we live in. And it doesn’t help we have just been through one of the coldest winters on record.

But despite these protests I do have to concede that maybe I should start wearing thicker jumpers and more layers around the house so I can stop turn the thermostat down. I also need to lay off putting on the gas fire in the living room as often as I have and generally just try to conserve energy more, otherwise the huge fuel prices will cripple us financially.

We also need to think about how we can make our fuel prices lower. Sheffield City Council has come up with a great scheme to help residents facing similar energy price problem. They have found a way to help save money on home energy bills offering a free collective energy switching scheme, which could save people an average of £150 per year on bills.

The more people who sign up to the Fairness Commission backed scheme the cheaper it becomes but people need to sign up before April 8 to be part of it. For information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/cheaperenergy. More saving advice will also be posted regularly on www.facebook.com/bigsheffieldswitch