I don’t know about you, but I swear not that long ago we were in the middle of a heatwave that felt like it was never going to end, and now, (as I am working from home and have been since March) I am sitting under a duvet, wearing my slippers and thermals every day, and not wanting to break the bank by heating the whole house all day every day.
Now that Winter is well and truly here, it’s time to whack up the heating and find ways of keeping warm that aren’t going to break the bank. Here’s a round up of some of my favourite ways!
Hive Active Heating and Hot Water
I loved the idea of a smart home but always thought it would be out of my price range. That was until I discovered Hive Active Heating, which is now possibly my favourite purchase that I’ve made for my new home. Whilst there is an initial layout of around £200 (depending on if you find an offer or sale) it not only will help save me money on my bills, but also, it gives me peace of mind and makes my life so much easier!
What is Hive Heating?
Hive is a smart home system which allows you to control your heating, hot water and other devices with a compatible Hive plug or hive radiator thermostat remotely. There are more and more Hive devices being lauched all the time, but you would only need to go through the Hive Installation process once (when it is connected up to your boiler or hot water system). After that, you can manually add on other devices via the app once your Hive Home Hub is installed.
I got the option which includes having a British Gas engineer installer install it for you, but you can get it for cheaper if you are able to do this yourself. So what does it get you? When you make the initial purchase, your box will have your Hive Active Heating control thermostat in it. It will also have (if you are getting installation) a card which explains how to go online and book your Hive Heating and Hot Water installation. I was able to get an appointment for one week’s time but I would imagine that in the middle of winter or in more populated areas such as London this time would be longer and the website says allow up to four weeks.
My Hive Thermostat looks like this and it is super easy to use – although due to the nature of my lifestyle and the fact that I always have my phone on me, I tend to use the app primarily, but you can use Hive manually just by pressing the central button and choosing the heating or hot water option that is most applicable.
Once the engineer arrived, the installation was pretty quick and he had installed it and showed me how to operate it via the app on my smart phone within an hour. It’s really easy to use. Through the app you choose the device you want to manage. At a glance in this picture you can see that my heating is on and the current temperature is 19.5 degrees. The lounge lamp is on but the hot water is off.
If you want to adjust the heating, just tap on the heating button and then go in to that panel. I’ve currently got it on “Manual” mode, and I’m trying to get the temperature to 21 degrees – so once it gets there it will turn off. You can also turn off the heating altogether, or set up a schedule which is much easier than fiddling around with a timer. It’s great to check the temperature of the house when you leave work and give it a quick blast before you get home. Equally, if you are held up at work or invited out, and you don’t want to heat an empty house, you can just adjust the schedule or turn the heating off altogether.
The hot water facility has options to be on, off or on a schedule as well. Say you decide to go to the gym after work, and you hadn’t set the hot water to come on, but you want a shower when you get in, you can just manually turn it on. I just have my hot water to come on for half an hour in the mornings so I can have a shower before work and that works perfectly for me. I did however have an incident recently where I was on a train home after a course through work, and I got lager spilt over me by some rather drunk people, and so I turned on the hot water from the train so I could get straight in the shower as soon as I got home!
I recently treated myself to a Hive plug as well. I’ve moved from a one bedroom house to a detached house. I want to make the house look lived in even when I am not there (although admittedly at the moment it is not an issue), so I got the plug so I could have a light on a timer, that again I can adjust manually. This is great if you won’t be getting home when you planned and you want to turn some lights on so it looks like someone is home. You can even name the devices in the app so you know which devices you are turning on and off. You just tap to turn it on or off, or you can set a schedule as well.
My Hive Heating and Hot Water Review
My main reasons for loving Hive heating control are that I do believe it will save me a lot of money in the long term. I’m not heating an empty house, but I can remotely choose to boost the temperature and warm it up before I get home, even if my plans change. I also think the Hive plug gives me extra piece of mind with regards to my home security so I’m really pleased with that. I love the fact that I can remotely turn on the heating or hot water when I am out and about. I may be working from home, but the other day I was out for a walk and I was getting muddier than expected, so I put the hot water on so I could get straight in the shower when I got home and didn’t have to wait for the water to heat up.
Hive is also compatible with Alexa, so I can just tell her to turn on the heating, or turn off the lounge lamp for example so that’s ridiculously handy! I can turn on a light in the lounge for example without having to get up! Handy… and rather lazy but I love it! It is certainly perfect for when I have a cat hot water bottle on me and I don’t want to move but the evening is drawing in and it is getting darker.
The Hive Heating and Hot Water app has now been updated snce the pictures provided above, but I actually think it has become more user friendly than before. Everything has a better lay out and is easier to read.
Ask for money off!
It might sound obvious but I am very much a firm believer in “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. There are clearly times and places when that is not appropriate. I mean good luck to anyone who stands at the till in the supermarket saying they don’t want to pay full price for their trolley of shopping but for some services (including household utility bills) there is a time and a place to ask that question.
Everytime a service or utility contract or rate is up, you should ask to see what they can do to convince you to stay with them. Just explain that you are struggling to pay your bills or the price no longer fits in to your budget. You may have to commit to staying with them for another minimum period, but quite often they will offer you a good offer in return for this. This definitely applies to your gas and utility bills – once you are no longer on a fixed tariff, you should be able to threaten to walk away – and often, just threatening to do so can make a big difference!
Your provider should be able to look at your bills and put you on the best tariff for you and your usage. Gone are the days when it was a complete faff to change a service or utility provider, but we quite often just don’t bother to do it anyway.
I looked online a lot last year as I wanted a gas and electricity provider who were ideally environmentally friendly, but also a good price. I came across Bulb – and I’ve been with them ever since. Not only will they give you £50 if you switch to them via my referral link – but they will also give me the same (so if you join, you can earn money off your bills by referring your friends and family)! Already tied in to a minimum period on a tariff with another provider? Just send Bulb your final bill with your early exit fees and they will refund you those as well! I couldn’t have justified switching to them if they were a lot more expensive than other providers – but actually they were cheaper, and more environmentally friendly so it really was a no brainer! You can then become a referrer and get credit back for everyone you recommend too, so it really is a great way to save on your bills.
Not convinced, check out a comparison site and see what prices you can get, but just remember, that £50 is only available via a referral link!
What if money is really tight?
I’m not being flippant, but sometimes what we really need to do is accept the fact that money is tight. In the short term maybe you need to just put on an extra jumper or two. I usually have at least one jumper on, as well as being under a nice fleecy throw or blanket before I will turn the heating up. I’m also very fortunate to have cats who are lap cats so I usually have at least one as a hot water bottle at any given time.
On that note – actual hot water bottles can really warm you up quickly, or take the chill off a cold bed before you get in to it.
I get most cold when I am sat still and not doing anything, so quite often if it is really cold, I will be watching TV and then during every ad break I will either get up and go to the toilet or get a drink, or walk on the spot for a few minutes. You’d be surprised how much this helps – with keeping you warm and getting your step count up! 🙂