“Heat the human, not the house”: Martin Lewis’ guide for “desperate” households | Cost of living crisis

Britain’s best-known consumer finance journalist, Martin Lewis, was uncharacteristically downbeat about the new edition of his newsletter, which was sent to 8.4 million UK subscribers on Wednesday morning, writing: “C This is a guide that I really wish we didn’t need to post. .”

Lewis’ Money Saving Expert newsletter is normally, and famously, filled with plenty of tips and tricks to help subscribers navigate the complex world of loans, insurance and utility bills to grab the best deals, from shopping to vacations. .

This week’s edition, however, is about the cost of living crisis. The content of How to Heat the Human Not the Home is more of a self-help and survival guide than a consumer tone. The grim background to this ingenious and oddly depressing initiative is that in the UK in 2022, millions of people are so tired they can’t heat their homes.

“I felt sad asking my team to put this together,” Lewis tweeted. “But my email bag is full of people so desperate they can’t set the fire, I wanted to try for help.”

The guide is a handy list of options if you can’t afford to heat your home – a reality for many as energy price caps rise and average bills soar to £2,000 per year, and millions of households sink into fuel poverty. Lewis recently admitted that he’s almost run out of conventional money-saving tools when it comes to energy bills.

The guide discusses in forensic detail the costs and relative effectiveness of a range of alternatives to switching off central heating, from heated insoles (less than 1p per hour) to hot water bottles (6p per hour, assuming that you boil a kettle with a capacity of 1.7 liters twice a day).

It gives advice on the right clothes to wear, the basic science of base, mid and outer layers, and where to buy them cheapest, and notes the psychological importance of socks and keeping feet warm. The floor is the coldest part of the house – so put your foot on a stool when you’re seated, it suggests.

Some of the tips require a financial outlay and aren’t cheap if you don’t have savings and get benefits, for example, £46 for a heated vest or £13 for a fleece outer layer.

Martin Lewis said he was “sad” to ask his team to write the guide for people struggling to heat their homes. Photography: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

The main source of expertise is not, as usual, Lewis’s team of financial experts, but thousands of its subscribers – clearly, many of them experts with lived experience of life. in constrained financial circumstances – who took to advising with courage and wisdom. .

“Gone are the days of throwing tights away once they got them, I cut off my feet and wear them under my pants and it’s amazing what a difference it makes,” says Rosa. Another reader writes, “When you sit, sit in a sleeping bag, at least your lower half. Even better, you put a hot water bottle in the bottom. Warm without drafts.

Despite all his wise advice, the guide recognizes the limits of ingenuity. Turning off the heat can be dangerous if you have certain health conditions, such as asthma, he points out. Eat regularly, he advises, although he admits that a hot meal once a day may not be affordable for some. And at that time, you may need to try the local food bank.

Nearly 12,000 people liked Lewis’ tweet announcing the guide (part of a larger set of 90 ways to survive the cost of living crisis). The responses sparked admiration, eagerness to tip and distress, especially in the face of the silent despair in which so many find themselves, in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

As a Twitter respondent put it: “It’s a damning condemnation of the depths this country has sunk to when the jolly guy who provided advice on the best savings, deals and phone deals now tearfully gives advice on how not to die cold or malnourished Thank you, I wish it wasn’t necessary.

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