This is a post I wrote for Brighton Mums a while ago.  Not very seasonal (to be honest, I pressed publish by accident)!  But it’s still relevant.  I put the home-made heater in the shed recently.  Our bill is still as big despite my efforts to reduce heating in the house at the end of last year.

Everyone’s skint right?  Perhaps not everyone- in-the-whole-country, but certainly every one of my friends.  Our family are on one income these days, while I flex my creative muscles, so anywhere we can save money, we do.

We’ve gone through all the usual stuff from switching supermarkets and cancelling our TV contract (we saved £40 a month) to switching insurers and cannibalising the kids savings accounts (needs-must, no guilt)!

My kids are now three and five.  When they were little, it was important to me that the whole house was cosy and warm year-round (anyone who knows us will know that young Kitty is mostly naked even on the winciest days of the year weather-wise).  However, in looking at our utility bills, we found we are paying nearly £200 a month combined for electricity and gas.  Yeow!

We have quite a big, oddly laid out house.  The front part is Victorian and has three floors and a draughty front door right at the bottom of the stairs, blowing the chilly right up to the bedrooms.  The back part of the house is modern flat-roofed extensions with lots of glass.  The walls are well insulated, but the glass means it can be cold come winter.

In the evenings, we sit in our front living room where we have an open fire.  With the doors shut, this room is toasty.  We have a couple of oil filled radiators to warm up the girls rooms, but actually, with thick duvets, we’re all happy sleeping in cool rooms.

We put up that plastic insulation stuff, like thick clingfilm that you hair-dryer to shrink onto the old front door (we don’t use this door, as we have another in the side of the house).  It’s not pretty, but has made a lot of difference.  We shut the doors to the playroom in the evenings as it has a chilly wall of glass doors.

The challenge is the daytimes when I am working alone at home.  We’re not putting the central heating on until we absolutely have to (it would be fantastic if we can get through to December without it, but I’m committed to at least November).  But even when it is on, it’s neither sensible nor environmentally friendly to heat the whole house to keep me alone warm during the day.

So, I made this!

homemade heaterThe conductor is made of steel cutlery, as it heats to almost the same temperature as the source.  The ceramic layers of the pot contain the heat and radiate it out.  I buy the nightlights very cheaply at the supermarket and use four which last a morning or an afternoon.  You could do it on an old tray, but I have utilised the chimney cap we took off our chimney so we could use the fireplace.  I might paint it to look prettier.

I put it under my desk, on the wooden floor, ensuring its safe and not near anything flammable.  It can heat a small room effectively, and we couldn’t afford/source logs then I would use it on the hearth.  Its gets pretty hot on the outside, but not hot enough to burn an adult.  Obviously, you would need to be very careful around kids, as with any flame.

I’m thrilled with my little money saver.  I’ll check in later in the year to let you know if I manage without the central heating at all!  If we can cut that bill, we may be able to afford a sunshiny holiday.  (I’m suddenly feeling very focused and optimistic)!

I wrote this post for Brighton Mums, right at the start of this chilly winter.  Roll on the spring!