Martin Lewis: 5 money saving tips to help this winter - from cost of living payment to energy costs

Martin Lewis says hundreds of thousands of people are yet to claim financial support from the government and offers money saving tips to get us through an expensive winter.

For years, Martin Lewis has provided financial advice, revealing the best deals available and offering money saving tips to help bank balances across the country. The man behind MoneySavingExpert.com has said there are some very simple measures people can take this winter to reduce energy bills and has also urged people to claim financial support made available by the government.

Cost of living council tax payment

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Mr Lewis said approximately 300,000 people who are entitled to a £150 council tax rebate have not yet claimed the non-repayable cost of living payment. This payment is applicable to people in council tax bands A to D and is available to claim until November 30. If you have not yet claimed your discount you should contact your local council. If you pay your council tax by direct debit, it will have been automatically paid.

Martin Lewis says hundreds of thousands of people are yet to claim financial support from the government and their local council.

Tax-Free Childcare scheme

The popular TV personality is also urging parents to claim the government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme that provides up to £2000 per child per year and up to £4000 for children with disabilities. Mr Lewis has said that “hundreds of thousands of people are missing out” by not setting up an online account on the government website that could save them a considerable sum of money over the year.

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Parents can claim up to £500 every three months towards approved childcare (child-minders, nurseries, nannies and after school clubs) and for every £8 they put into the account the government will put in £2. Mr Lewis said: “In other words, if you have £500 per month on child care costs, you’ll pay £400 and £100 pounds will come from the state. It really is as simple as that.”

Heating

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Martin Lewis said people can save £100 a year by adjusting their boiler thermostat to 60 degrees.

As the colder nights set in, many of us are trying to limit our energy use in the face of surging energy costs. To help with energy bills, consumer champion Lewis has listed a range of simple changes you can make to reduce energy costs this winter. Reducing the boiler thermostat to 60 degrees will save an average household £100 a year and heat radiators just as efficiently. In addition to regulating the water temperature inside the boiler, consumers can save an additional ten per cent per month by reducing the room thermostat by one degree.

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Mr Lewis said a common mistake is to set room thermostats too high and said according to the World Health Organisation, 18 degrees is a suitable room temperature for healthy adults. Another simple step suggested was a system called “tactical curtains” – reminding people that they should open curtains during daylight hours to allow heat and light into a room and then close them again at night to create an insulation barrier. Mr Lewis acknowledged this may seem obvious but stated people should be “doing it rigorously.”

The popular finance expert advised people to pursue “draught detecting” around their properties and to block up any draughts that they find. For people with combi boilers, the money guru recommends reducing the domestic hot water thermostat to 55 degrees and for those with system boilers that incorporate a hot water tank, to buy a £15 thermal jacket for it – saving consumers between £50-£60 a year. He added that if people reduce their time in the shower by one minute they could save roughly £35 a year.

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‘Heat the human not the home’

Mr Lewis suggested several ways to stay warm that are a cheaper alternative to turning on the central heating. The tips ranged from using a hot water bottle inside a sleeping bag to keep cosy during the day and buying electrical devices that are more cost effective to run than boilers.

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Suggestions included electric blankets that cost £18 to buy and 3p an hour to run, and new technologies such as heated USB gloves can cost as little as £5 to buy and 1p an hour to run. There are also more expensive options such as electrical gilets (£50 to buy) that keep the whole body warm, with a running cost of roughly 1p per hour.

Other Household appliances

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Speaking on the Martin Lewis Money Show, the program’s host made the point that many of his tips “are not rocket science” and encouraged people to make simple changes that when applied consistently are a great way to save money. He said another mistake people are guilty of is not setting temperatures for fridges and freezers correctly. He said a suitable temperature for a fridge is five degrees and a freezer should be set to minus 18 degrees adding, “if it’s colder you’re wasting too much money.”

According to the money saving expert, setting washing machine cycles to 30 degrees and reducing washes by one load per week will save £34 a year. Mr Lewis said microwaves are approximately 80 per cent cheaper to run than ovens as they only heat the food and not the air around it, so when cooking a small portion of food, the former option will be kinder to your bank balance.

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He also suggested that batch cooking will provide a more energy efficient way to cook and to always defrost food in the fridge as opposed to using the microwave defrost function.