The cost of living crisis and how to survive the upcoming winter: a student’s guide.
Phoebe, a 4th year BA Modern Languages ( French and Spanish) student, shares her tips on saving energy in colder months.
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The accumulation of issues such as Brexit, the global pandemic and the war in Ukraine have all contributed heavily towards the soaring energy prices. Until the government intervene and do more to help, here are some useful tips from one student to another to help those living in rented accommodation, and paying for bills, this academic year and how to survive the winter ahead.
A hot water bottle will be your best friend
You might associate hot water bottles as something that your matron gave you at school when you were feeling ill but, trust me, a hot water bottle is such a good investment! Most of them stay warm until the morning, meaning that you don’t have to re-boil the kettle throughout the night. You can buy hot water bottles from many different places such as Primark, John Lewis and Boots. Here’s one from Dunlem Mill.
Buy a drying rack
Maybe at home you can indulge in the luxury of fluffy towels fresh out of the tumble dryer, but, sadly, the realities of University life means that you have to find alternative methods of drying your clothes. Tumble dryers use up lots of electricity, so instead opt for a drying rack which you can hang your clothes on and leave them to dry overnight, for example this one from Wilko. It’s also a one-time purchase so if you are in first year definitely consider buying a drying rack as it will probably last you throughout your whole time at University.
Prepping your meals as a student is one of the best things you can do. It will not only save you money, but also a lot of time. It also means that you can just bung the cooked meals into the freezer and eat them as and when you wish. Tupperware is so useful. You will be able to find microwaves on campus in the Student Union in order to re-heat your meals.
Check your duvet
This sounds an obvious one but check the thickness of your duvet. The tog rating of your duvet is a good indication to its thickness and therefore the warmth it will provide you with. Most students just use one duvet all year round and make do with that, but for the winter months it is really beneficial to buy a thicker duvet. 13.5 tog duvets are generally the thickest so will provide lots of warmth on those cold winter nights. For an affordable option check out this one.
Buy a dressing gown or hooded blanket
If you don’t already have a dressing gown, then you are missing out! They are generally very inexpensive and on those colder nights you can even wrap yourself up in one in bed. Most dressing gowns contain hoods for extra warmth, or for a less claustrophobic alternative, a hooded blanket is a good idea and basically serves the same purpose. To cut the cost, you can find one on sale, for example this one from ASOS for £15.
Stick to 30 degrees
You might not realise to what extent washing your clothes uses up electricity, but it does, especially if you are using higher temperatures. A wash set to 40 degrees will inevitably use up more electricity than one set to 30 degrees. Also be savvy and wait until your washing up pile fills up a little bit more before sticking a wash on. Maybe if you have a particular top that you really want to wear, you could ask your housemates if you could borrow something of theirs that is similar?
Invest in a slow cooker
Slow cookers are generally very energy efficient and really useful for student living as you can put everything into a pot, leave it for a few hours, come back and voilà, your dinner is ready (almost as if you were back at home!). You can also fit a lot into a slow cooker, meaning that you can meal prep, and for those who are quite health-conscious, lots of meals that are made with a slow cooker are healthy and you can find lots of fun recipes online such as on BBC Good Food. Slow cookers don’t have to be a big investment, for example, this one is only £15.
Buy a teapot
If you’re like me and enjoy drinking warm drinks and survive on coffee and tea then instead of boiling the kettle every time you fancy a hot beverage, a teapot might be a good investment. Most teapots can contain hot water enough for 3–4 cups of your preferential hot drink, meaning that you can share a cuppa with a friend, and you don’t feel guilty for flicking the kettle on each time. You could also buy (or make, if you are resourceful and creative) a tea cosy which will inevitably extend the time that the water inside the teapot stays hot for. They are easy to find in charity shop, but if you don’t have time for browsing, here’s one from Amazon.
Sharing is caring
If you are living in shared accommodation, use this to your advantage. For example, if you have something you want to wash but don’t have enough for a full, worthwhile load, you could ask your housemates if they have some clothes they wanted to chuck in. Same goes for cooking, maybe you could cook with one of your housemates and make a bigger portion to feed the both of you instead of just one person? It will also (hopefully) bring you closer to your housemates!
Turn off the lights
As Nelly Furtado sings it best “turn off the light” is something that you should definitely live by. Although it sounds painstakingly obvious, it’s important to get yourself and your other housemates to get into the good habit of turning off the lights once you leave the room. Especially if you all cram into your dingy, student living room in the evening to watch TV, you don’t need all of the lights on.