9 cheap alternatives to heating a student house

Central heating bill too heavy? Here's how to be smart and save money

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The Independent Online

As the cold kicks in and an extraordinarily hot summer becomes just a distant memory, it can be increasingly tempting to turn up the thermostat. The satisfying click as you spin the dial and that comforting glow as the radiators begin to warm.

But think of the money! As intelligent and engaged students we definitely all know how the cost of energy is rising and that using the central heating when it's still just Autumn is barmy. Keep that thermostat off and take these 10 cheap, housewarming ideas on board.

First of all, check your insulation

Don't worry, nobody expects you to know how much insulation your student house has. But there are a few simple checks you can do to address the draughts. First of all, make sure you and all your housemates are shutting windows and doors properly. Then, to check for further draughts, take a candle and hold it near to doors and windows. If there is a gap, get some cheap draught proofing strips and fill it up. Alternatively, use your housemate's socks that they keep leaving round the house. If socks are dirty, use BBQ tongs to move them. Remember to wash the tongs.

Electric heaters

Obviously this still uses power and you buy one so it isn't the most price friendly option but if there's a spare one at home or you stumble across one on freecycle then it's definitely worth using. Although it doesn't help much if you spend a lot of time in different rooms, it's a great way of heating a small area that you all share.

Hot water bottles

It is obvious you should never have the heating on at night. However, it can be quite tempting when you wake up in the middle of the night with your feet like blocks of ice. Especially when you have a night-time guest who has stolen the duvet. A hot water bottle could make all the difference. 

Pile on the layers

The most obvious way of warming up but also one of the most effective. That extra jumper, duvet, blanket or hoodie can make you a lot warmer. Two pairs of socks is always a good move, too. Plus, David Cameron thinks it’s a good idea, and he’s always right, isn’t he? If you’re in a hoodie, he might even give you a hug!

Make your own candle powered space heater

This is by far the most exciting of ways to heat a small area for little cost. The full instructions on how to make one are here, but all you need are three terracotta plant pots, some bolts, washers and a candle. The candles heat up the pots using some clever science and you have yourself a cheap heater. If you're really stuck for cash you can even make your own candles using all that grease left over from cooking bacon.   

Hot drinks

Nobody doubts tea is an essential part of British culture and it can also serve as a hearty, warming beverage. Although hot drinks don’t technically warm your body, they warm your mouth which can act as a placebo for the rest of your body. Always remember to only fill your kettle with the water you need, as boiling too much will needlessly waste energy.

Go to the library

Pack your books up and get to the library. You’re paying £9,000 a year so why not make use of the heating and electricity provided by the university? Perhaps refrain from taking a duvet and pillows though; you might get some weird looks.

Leave the oven door open after cooking

Although your oven may only be used to heat up leftover takeaways or a frozen pizza, leaving it open afterwards creates warm flow of air. You may find yourself standing and eating in the kitchen a little more than normal.

To the pub!

Perhaps the library would be the better option in regards to your education but the pub should never be ruled out. It’s warm and is full of alcohol. Plus, would you rather spend money on heating or beer?

Ultimately, you’re only student once. So even if you can afford to turn the heating on, leave it off and live like a student for a while.