$500 For One Month of Heating?

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£300 in my money plus VAT. $500 a month for oil, as my American cousins would say. Either way it is a lot of money. Now I'm not normally one to complain. But when I'm having to shell out ₤300.00 to heat my house, then I may just start complaining. January 2011 was a cold month by any UK standards but not a month where you should be spending stupid amounts of money to heat your house.

The Joys of Oil-Fired Heating
You see, I was not on the gas main line. I had a tank, which we had to fill with oil for our old cottage. With two young kids in the house, it wasn't possible just to put on jumpers and woolly hats. We needed to keep the place warm. The insulation wasn't great and to be honest, the boiler was a bit dodgy.

$500 For One Month of Heating?
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So I filled the tank just before Christmas. I remember the timing because we had to stay at a friend's house for a couple of nights after we had run dry. Then by the end of January, it was gone; five hundred litres, 360 pounds with the VAT. Gone!!! It was like burning bank notes to keep warm.
It wasn’t even warm and we had to buy fan heaters and oil-filled radiators for the children’s room to supplement what the radiators gave out,

Where Does the Heat Go To?
Now, what I learned from this was the importance of servicing your heating appliances. The main problem was that the boiler just wasn't working efficiently. It needed a service. After the service, immediately the bill dropped by 50% even though February was still pretty cold. On top of that, the radiators needed bleeding. We needed insulation in the loft. We needed new double glazing, but we could not afford all that.

There were lots of reasons our cottage was hyper energy inefficient. We went about fixing them over the intervening years. We started the month of that bill with the boiler. It cost a couple of hundred pounds to service but it was worth it. We saved that almost in the first month. And we insulated, we put curtains up and we generally just got the house into a better state to stay warm in the winter. It wasn't perfect but I would say it was at least 50% better than it had been and a lot better than that infamous January of 2011.

It's not always possible to control your environment totally. But if you do your best, then you can keep things a bit warmer and you won't get easily shocked by expenses that you really can't afford. It's better to plan than be at a mercy of emergency heating situations.

Phil Turner
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Phil Turner has insulated his old cottage now, but still uses oil filled radiators in cold bedrooms in he depths of winter.

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