Lessons from the Heating Challenge

With heating costs rising by around 20% in the UK, I suspect I’m not the only one worrying about the costs this winter especially as I’m at home most of the time. Last year I didn’t think about it but now I’m thinking about the pennies much more. With the mild October weather, I resolved not to switch the heating on too quickly and through the power of Twitter, two friends issued a challenge not to switch the heating on until 5th Nov. Being a fool, I accepted the challenge. It’s the 6th and the heating has been on for a couple of hours today today. It’s now a positively toasty 18 deg C in the house up from 14.5 deg C and I’m feeling good!

Truth be told, it’s not been THAT cold. The inside temperature has been around 17.5 deg C in the day and about 16 deg C at night until the last few days. The house has double glazing, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation – all the things that those nice people at the utility companies say we should have. So considering the outside temperature has been lower, the house has held its heat from the ‘summer’ (wasn’t that great was it?) pretty well. I’ve put an extra layer or two on and when I’ve been moving around the house, it’s been fine.

In the last day or so, it’s been a lot less comfortable. 15.5 deg C in the day and under 15 deg C at night. Winter’s drawing in now even if the temperatures are still above average for this time of year. If you keep moving, it’s ok but sit still for a couple of hours and you start to feel the cold. I don’t have much hair these days so there’s a 25% heat loss there ; wear a hat. Still cold, put another layer on. I’m not freezing but on the other hand, I’m not warm either and I’m starting to look like the Michelin man. The laptop on my knee is providing a bit of warmth to my hands and legs but it’s not exactly how I want to spend my days. I’m not freezing but it’s not comfortable either and I find I’m not as productive as I should be. Yesterday, the challenge complete, I turned on the heating and it felt like Christmas.

So what have I learnt from the last few weeks and really taking notice of the temperature rather than just switching on the heating. Improving your house does make a difference to heat loss, I would have been struggling otherwise. As a society, we’ve probably become a bit too spoilt from central heating and most of us could  be a bit more ‘prudent’ as Gordon Brown was fond of saying (at least until he became Prime Minister). But ultimately you do need the heating on and perhaps more importantly, if you’re not moving around the house, it becomes a lot more difficult to keep warm. Which is a bit of a pity if you’re sick or old because old and sick people can’t move about as much.

It’s a crazy world we live in.  It’s not quite the 21st century I imagined when I left University 25 years ago. Pay for the directors of the UK’s top businesses rose 50% over the past year and Tamara Ecclestone worries because her dad can’t get her super yacht a premium parking space whilst the most vulnerable in our society worry about whether to switch the heating on. Elsewhere in the world, many Indians live on 1$ a day yet India has a Grand Prix and a space programme.

With a bit of thought and planning about  how /when I use the heating, I think I can claw that 20% increase back and hopefully I won’t feel the cold too much. But every time I turn the heating on, I’ll be thinking about those who can’t.

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About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

2 Responses to Lessons from the Heating Challenge

  1. claireking9 says:

    Challenge issued, challenge met!
    Bloody well done! As someone who spent quite a few years in a house with no heating at all (and walls with holes in) because we couldn’t afford to do it any other way, I applaud your tenacity. Glad you are warming up again now!
    We have put heating in this year, and though so far we’ve only turned it on in the kids bedrooms, it’s an utter luxury. I’m a bit worried about what the bills are going to be like. We’ll see. To be sure it’s not something that we’ll be turning on without thinking about it, and we’ll never take it for granted.

  2. Ekologist says:

    Challenge issued, challenge met!
    Bloody well done! As someone who spent quite a few years in a house with no heating at all (and walls with holes in) because we couldn’t afford to do it any other way, I applaud your tenacity. Glad you are warming up again now!
    We have put heating in this year, and though so far we’ve only turned it on in the kids bedrooms, it’s an utter luxury. I’m a bit worried about what the bills are going to be like. We’ll see. To be sure it’s not something that we’ll be turning on without thinking about it, and we’ll never take it for granted.

    +1

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