The darkness of winter is officially behind us and, while the first signs of spring typically mean brighter days, this years unseasonably cold temperatures and rising energy prices are putting a dampener on our fresh hope for the new season.
From 1 April, the price cap on electricity and gas is rising by more than 50 per cent to close to £2,000 for the average household, meaning many will end up paying hundreds, if not thousands, more for their energy each year.
With a noticeable nip still in the air, the decision about whether or not to crank up the thermostat is one that’s going to be playing even more heavily on the minds of millions of people.
So, what should you do if you’re concerned about your bills skyrocketing in the next few months? Well, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis has shared three all-important tips. His first bit of advice was aimed at those with a prepayment meter. He suggested stockpiling energy by purchasing as much as you can afford before 31 March as this will be at the lower rate.
Alternatively, if you pay by direct debit, Mr Lewis recommended you take a meter reading today, and once again the day before the price cap increase to make sure you’re paying as much as you can at the lower rate. Finally, he urged you to get to know how to claim the £150 council tax rebate.
Much like the Money Saving Expert, here at IndyBest we also love to share tips, including how to make sure you stay cosy and comfortable without breaking the bank. It’s a good idea to consider turning the heating on intermittently throughout the day instead of full-blast 24/7 an, for those times in-between or when heating alone just won’t cut it, we’re here to help.
The good news is that there are a number of simple things you can do to make your home feel that little bit toastier that don’t involve increasing your utility bill. From preventing unwanted draughts to layering up, we’ve rounded up some of the best cold-busting methods to try.
Keep cosy with a hot water bottle
If you’ve kitted yourself out in the warmest of loungewear but still can’t seem to shrug off the unwelcome chill, then a hot water bottle should be top of your shopping list.
Ideal for keeping you warm while working from home, this faux fur version (£19.20, Thewhitecompany.com) was named best buy in our round-up of the best hot water bottles for being a “cosy delight”. “So thick and velvety is the faux fur that we began comparing the feel of it to the sensation of stroking a baby bunny or kitten,” our tester said. “The soothing effect is the same, with the added benefit of hours of warmth and no pet wriggling to escape your neediness,” they added.
We also highly recommend the This Is Silk hot water bottle (£74.99, Thisissilk.com), which comes with a thick strap, meaning it can be worn when lying down and walking around. “Besides the exceptional quality, we’ve rated this hot water bottle so highly because we love that it’s wearable,” our tester said.
Draught-proof your home
If your home isn’t properly insulated, then a draught excluder is a must for keeping the chill at bay. And not only are these nifty products great at stopping air creep through cracks, but they can also add a stylish touch to your living space.
For a chic addition that also does the job, we recommend picking up this juju door stop (£32, Kalinko.com) which was the winner in our round-up of the best draught excluders. “The double-lined material has a top-quality feel, and the weighty gravel filling ensures it stays put. Although its compact size means it’s not ideal if you’ve got deep gaps beneath the entire width of the door, it’s a great option if your cold air issues stem from doors swinging open,” our reviewer said.
Snuggle up with a high-tog duvet
The lightweight bedding that kept you cool over summer just won’t cut it when it’s cold, so make sure to swap to a dedicated winter duvet. The tog will tell you just how toasty it is; the higher the number, the cosier you’ll be and as a general rule, a winter duvet should be 10.5 or above to keep you snug.
In our round-up of the best winter duvets, Scooms’s all-seasons Hungarian goose down duvet (£315, Scooms.com) took the top spot thanks to its natural temperature regulating properties, ultra-comfy feel and 10-year guarantee. “This duvet is so fluffy, it felt like we were snuggling down in a freshly made hotel bed,” they said. “We especially liked the fact the all-seasons duvet comes in a range of options, so you can match 2.5 and 4.5 tog duvets or 2.5 and 9 tog ones if you prefer something a little lighter, though our mix of 4.5 and 9 togs felt like the perfect cuddly combination for chilly winter nights.”
If you’re looking for something a bit more purse-friendly, consider the Silentnight yours and mine dual tog duvet (£35, Silentnight.co.uk), which also featured in our round-up. Highlighted as the best option for couples, our tester said it combines two different togs in one duvet, meaning one half has a higher 10.5 tog for those who sweat year-round and the other is a warmer 13.5 tog for anyone who wants to keep the cold at bay.
If you’re feeling the cold while sitting at your desk, the likelihood is that you’re not wearing enough clothes.
While that crewneck T-shirt might have seen you through the summer months, it just won’t cut it during winter, so make sure to invest in multiple light layers that will insulate your body and make it easier to regulate your temperature.
If you need to ensure you still look the part for Zoom calls, we suggest picking up a cosy jumper, like this luxurious number (£95, Next.co.uk) from high street stalwart Next. Taking the top spot in our round-up of the best women’s cashmere jumpers, our tester said it competes with the heavyweight brands that stock similar jumpers at double, if not triple the price.
“It has a ribbed neckline and cuffs, with a slightly oversized fit that makes it a total dream to wear,” they said. “Owing to its thickness, it’s the perfect layering piece and works well with every outfit we’ve paired it with so far, whether that’s leopard print jeans or a black mini skirt,” they added.
Whether you’re working from home or not, you can’t go wrong with comfy joggers, and this oversized pair (£12.99, Hm.com) will keep you warm in style. Named best buy in our guide to the best women’s joggers, our reviewer said: “With a slightly oversized cut, high-waisted fit and fleece lining, they’re comfortable yet not too informal, so you could easily wear these out (and of course, we have). For less than £13, these really are a no-brainer.”
We also love this pair of fleece-lined joggers (£36, Asos.com) from fitness brand Reebok, which our tester fell in love with as soon as they took them out of the box. “They have a serious thickness to them and a fleece lining that makes them that extra bit cosy,” our tester said. “Owing to the fact they’re slightly oversized, we’d recommend opting for your normal size or sizing down,” they added.
A cardigan is another great piece to have in your wardrobe for days when you’re feeling the chill. In our round-up of the best women’s cardies, this textured style (£112, Everlane.com) was one of our favourites as it has a large, chunky design that’s comfortable to wear and promises to keep you warm when temperatures plummet.
For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend H&M’s fine-knit cardigan (£9.99, Hm.com), which comes in a great range of colours. Our reviewer described it as the perfect layering piece that will see you through all seasons because it’s not too heavy.
Don’t get cold feet
Now that you’ve upgraded your winter wardrobe, it’s time to invest in one of the most crucial cold-busting items: a pair of slippers.
If you tend to have chilly floors, wearing cosy slippers around the house is guaranteed to make your whole body feel warmer, especially if you choose a fluffy style like this pair from Ugg (£100, Ugg.com). In our guide to the best women’s slippers, our reviewer said: “These slides will convert you into a true slipper fanatic. Made from impossibly soft sheepskin, they keep your feet wonderfully warm despite the slide shape, while the logo band keeps feet firmly in place. It’s like swaddling your soles in a silky wonderland.”
For a more affordable pair, we recommend these mule slippers from M&S (£12.50, Marksandspencer.com). Featuring a hidden arch mould that our tester said offers “amazing support”, they come in a choice of three colours. “The unbelievably soft lining and knitted exterior offer classic warmth and make for hugely pleasurable wearing,” our tester said. “For a solid staple pair that is sure to get you through the cooler months – this is the one to go for,” they added.
Warm up from the inside out
The answer to many of life’s problems (according to Brits, at least) is a hot cup of tea, and a good brew will work wonders when it comes to warming your body from the inside. Taking the top spot in our round-up of the best plastic-free teabags are the Brew Tea Co proper tea bags in earl grey (£4.59 for 15, Brewteacompany.com), which our reviewer found to be full of flavour, mixing bergamot oil with Ceylon black tea, orange peel and calendula petals.
If you’re planning on making a round of well-brewed bevs, it’s a great idea to invest a teapot. We love this blue version from Denby (£50, Jarrold.co.uk), which features a trendy blue speckled design. “We were pleased to discover the integral stainless steel strainer inside, despite the traditional design, which makes for a fuss-free way to brew yourself a real cuppa. The convenience continues as it’s dishwasher safe, and comes with a 10-year guarantee, should the Denby durability falter,” our reviewer said in our guide to the best teapots.
Not a tea fan? Fear not because there are plenty of other winter warmers you can try, including the ultimate indulgence: hot chocolate.
For a seriously luxurious experience, we recommend buying a velvetiser (£99.95, Hotelchocolat.com), which works by simultaneously heating and whisking the milk and hot chocolate together to create a homogenous, silky smooth mixture with a frothy top. In our review of the gadget, our tester called it a “fun and opulent way to take your fix from standard to standout”.
Coffee lovers, meanwhile, will do well to invest in a machine, like the Nespresso vertuoplus (£199, Nespresso.com), which was highlighted in our guide to the best pod brewers for providing you with everything from a single espresso to a longer drink.
“Incredibly easy to use, simply make sure you’ve got the right-sized coffee cup for the drink that it’s making and then press a button. The machine even neatly dispatches the used pod into a waiting container at the back of the machine,” said our reviewer.
Hunker down with a blanket
Not that we need an excuse to cosy up, but blankets are another great way to layer, helping to keep the heat your body generates close.
This millay throw (£185, Issygranger.com) is a toasty and more affordable alternative to reaching for the thermostat. Featuring in round-up of the best wool blankets, it’s made from 100 per cent pure merino lambswool and was described by our reviewer as feeling “lightweight yet incredibly warm”.
Alternatively, you could invest in a weighted blanket. The science behind them relates to deep touch pressure (DTP), which is a form of sensory input often delivered through hugging and squeezing, that is said to be able to help people who feel anxious, and lead to better sleep.
If you could do with a snuggly quilt that keeps you both calm and cosy, try this 7kg weighted blanket (£89.40, Melacomfort.co.uk). Taking the top spot in our round-up of the best weighted blankets, our tester said: “The main sway for us has been the luxurious 100 per cent eucalyptus silk shell surrounding the weighted blanket inner and the 300 thread count outer cover. The fabric is soft and looks remarkably similar to real silk – we’d struggle to differentiate between the two if we weren’t told.”
For the latest discounts on portable heaters and other household appliances, try the links below:
For more tips on how to stay warm, read our review of Aldi’s new £23 heated blanket
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