With the onset of dropping temperatures, a housing trust which helps people after homelessness – as well as providing support when they move on to private rented accommodation – has recommended two key energy saving appliances to help drive down bills.
Rachael Tomlin, who works at Derventio Housing Trust – which runs a social project in Ilkeston called Growing Lives – said she has always recommended residents struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills should kit themselves out with two key appliances to drive down costs: a slow cooker, and a low energy electric blanket.
Her recommendation is to prepare meals in a slow cooker as at around 5p an hour it costs far less to run than a conventional oven.
Rachael said her other top tip to residents struggling to heat their homes was to invest in a low energy electric blanket which can be attached to a bed at night time and transferred to a sofa during the day, meaning that a person can at least be warmer where they are.
Rachael said she would offer these pieces of advice to people who accessed the housing trust’s services when living in their own private rented or council properties. This often happens when they have moved on from being residents under the trust and it means having to pay their own bills again.
She said: “With energy bills really rising last year a lot of people were telling me they were so cold in their homes and could not afford to put the heating on, which was in turn meaning they were struggling to get out and do things for fear of getting colder still.
“A low energy electric blanket that you put on a sofa costs far less to run than putting your heating on and it’s a practical solution which means you can at least be warmer in one place in the house. If possible, two low energy electric blankets – one on a bed and one on a sofa – is an ideal scenario.
“When it comes to cooking, a lot of people were help tell us they just eat what they can lay their hands on and don’t dare put their oven on. Not only is a slow cooker brilliant for saving on energy bills, it couldn’t be easier to use either – you literally just dump food in it and leave it to work its magic, and it makes really nutritious and healthy meals too. During the winter I use my slow cooker at least twice a week and it’s had a significant impact on our household bills.
“Most people in private rented or council accommodation pay their gas and electricity bills on a meter – it gives people a real lift when you can see the impact of a lower bill because you’re suddenly seeing your money go twice as far.”
Derventio Housing Trust has in the past secured grant funding to pay for slow cookers for use by those it helps.
A highly volatile market caused soaring energy prices last winter which in turn fuelled a spiralling cost of living crisis. An energy price cap which came into force in October has kept bills down to a lower level than in 2022 but there are still fears they could rise come 2024.