AS the cold nights draw in and the temperatures begin to drop, one frugal woman has revealed she has NEVER turned on her heating – because she refuses to give a penny to "greedy" gas and energy companies.
Gemma Clough, from York, says she makes do with a £6 Amazon product instead – saying her tough Northern upbringing has taught her that central heating isn't necessary.
And she doesn't shower at home either, preferring to use gym facilities the rest of the time in a bid to save cash.
She estimates she's saved "thousands", although hasn't got the exact figure.
“I’m frugal and always have been”, Gemma, 35, says.
“I can’t bear the thought of lining the pockets of those energy companies during a cost-of-living crisis.
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''Plus, you don’t need to. England isn’t as cold as people think it is -everyone needs to toughen up a bit.
''You can get by perfectly fine with a wheat bag, a pair of fluffy slippers and a dressing gown.”
A wheat bag is a fabric sack full of wheat or rice that you put in the microwave and then use for warmth.
“It lasts a lot longer than a hot water bottle and doesn’t risk burning you,” Gemma explains. “I swear by it"
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Savvy Gemma, who runs popular Instagram page @helpsavemoney, used to live in a one bed flat with heaters that wouldn’t work.
It would get so cold she could see her breath but she soon realised she didn’t need heating to survive – and she was saving a fortune as a result.
“It was freezing, but it wasn’t the end of the world, and there are plenty of cheap alternatives to keep you warm,” she explains.
“I was very happy not spending out on heating to be honest. But it did start to affect my health.
My mum can spend £400 a month on her energy bills. I spend £14 a month on water and about £40 on electricity.”
''I was getting bad circulation, so I moved into a well-insulated new build flat a couple of years ago which was positively boiling in comparison.
''I was used to being far colder than that, so I didn’t bother putting on the heating at all, even though it’s fully functioning. And I’ve no plans to either.”
Single Gemma currently lives alone but says if she did find herself in a relationship she wouldn’t compromise.
“If they wanted to pay for the heating, fine,” she says.
“I’m not adverse to being warmer. It’s more of a money thing. Otherwise, anyone I end up with would have to be ok with sharing a cold flat.”
Gemma says she’s not struggling for money and has savings, but prefers to spend it on things like travel and experiences.
“I’ll remember a trip to Spain or a day out at Alton Towers forever,” she argues.
“I wouldn’t remember feeling slightly warmer on a random Tuesday night. I think people can get into a cycle of overspending when it comes to heating, but it’s not necessary.
''My mum can spend £400 a month on her energy bills. I spend £14 a month on water and about £40 on electricity.”
She'll use a 1p-a-day heated throw…. maybe
Gemma’s family despair at her decisions and have encouraged her to treat herself to a bit of heat.
“They do get really annoyed with me,” she says.
“My sister bought me a heated throw which only costs a penny a day in electricity to use, so I’ll happily try that when it gets a bit chillier.”
Even without using a dryer or having outside space, Gemma says drying her washing isn’t an issue and neither is mould.
“I live in a city so my clothes don’t get too dirty, so it’s not like I put on a daily wash.
''But when I do I use a clothes horse and every few hours turn my clothes around, change their position so they air quite quickly.
''And I’ve never had a problem with mould but in the mornings when the windows are wet I wipe them down and keep them dry.
''I’ll open the windows even if it’s cold to air out my flat.”
Expert warnings – why you need to stay warm
Although you might be tempted to save as much money as possible, it's also key to remember to look after yourself.
According to the NHS, Age UK and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), you should be heating your home to at least 18C.
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This is particularly more important for those who aren't very mobile, are aged 65 or over, or have a long-term health condition, such as heart or lung disease.
The health service also warned that that families with babies should heat rooms between 16C and 20C while they sleep to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
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