New Money Saving Journey with British Gas

I’m usually a put–an-extra-pair-of-socks- and-a-jumper-on kind of girl but I’m telling you now, that just does not cut it in a basement flat, they are cold and wet – the kind of cold that gets in your bones and never leaves.

smart linked thermostat
In previous homes we didn’t put the heating on even when it was minus 17 outside but if you go without heating here then the flat doesn’t get a chance to dry out and thanks to Manchester’s famous rain – it really does need drying out. Basement flats get wet and mouldy…fast.

With that in mind, our utility bills have taken a big jump skyward since moving to Thrifty Towers over a year ago and our household budget has taken a hit! Ugh. I’m keen to do anything to see our energy consumption and expenditure come down. Living in this flat has taken a bit of rethinking and smart solutions.
I’m partnering with British Gas on a new project, which I hope will teach me a few things and help, somehow to save money. Last week I had a very lovely (actually he was delicious) guy come out from British Gas to fit Thrifty Towers with Remote Heating Control, I’ll be one of the first people in the country to try this type of device out.
Basically to cut the techno-talk out, it helps you control the heating in your home, even when you’re not there. They give you a little device called a ‘Smart Linked Thermostat’ which allows you to turn your heating on and off anywhere in your home (our device usually sits on my dressing table so I can check what is going on when I wake up) but more impressively (to me, anyway) you can download a free app which means you can turn your heating on and off from anywhere – you can even do it via text if you don’t have access to the internet.
british gas iphone app
This is especially useful for us because Mr Thrifty leaves for work really early and some days I’m out the door to meetings across the city meaning I either have to leave the heating on all day for the flat to get dried out or not put it on at all and suffer the mouldy consequences. This way I can give it a quick blast of warmth and turn it off whilst I’m out on the go. Or we can figure out when we’re in or out during the week and set the heating via an online timetable to come on at different times on different days. It’s like dark arts without getting Snape all frowny.
I’ll be trialling the system for 6 months, so it will be interesting to see if it saves us money and if it works for us. Right now because it is August we only have the heating very low on for 45 mins to dry the flat out a bit but it will be interesting to see how it comes into play as we head toward the winter months – because you’ve never really felt cold unless you’ve put your feet on the floor of a basement flat in December.

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P.S. If you have any other money saving utility tips, especially for damp prone homes I’d love to hear them.

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  1. WOw, this is a really interesting app, especially being able to control it when youre out!That’s the thing that annoys me about the heating, like you say, having to have it on all day or wait til one of you get in! It’s something id love to have! xxx

  2. Wow! I know housing is hard to find but a damp basement flat sound Dickensian. I know you are not well some of the time and should be a housing priority. I would suggest applying to a housing association to have affordable and warmer housing. We can’t afford heating full stop and if we didn’t skip dive for wood then we’d be in the same boat. I’ve even had the stove lit this week to dry the washing. I feel for you m’luvva I really do – Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • To be honest it isn’t *all* bad, we can afford double the amount of space, outdoor space, a garage and private parking by living in a basement flat compared to other houses in the area. Most old flats in this area suffer from damp, we’re close to a river, the houses are quite old.
      The damp is THAT bad, it just takes a sensible approach which is what I like to think we give it. You would never, ever know there was damp in this house if you visited. And it doesn’t play a part in my ill health at all.

  3. I feel your pain. My boyfriend and I have recently moved into an old, stone built, single glazed cottage with a history of damp issues…. I seriously grudge having the heating on in the summer months but if we dont I was quick to find out my shoes go mouldy in my built in wardrobe/cupboard (baby wipes for de moulding shoes, nice!) and he whole place feels clammy. We are oil central heating too which isn’t cheap but we also have an open fire do we are currently stocking up on all things wooden to burn.

  4. Looks smart, keep us updated on how it treats you! I live in an ooold house so in the winter it’s an ice pit xxx

  5. What a swanky gadget, i hope it works out! xx

  6. My first priority when I own my own place (and don’t just rent) is to switch the fire to a log burner or a coal fire. My parents have always had one, even back in the day when they weren’t all posh and cool. They use the fires to heat the house in winter. When it snows they light all three and we have to open the patio doors and sit out side in the snow because the house is like being in the depths of hell.

    But in my flat it’s cold :(. Gas fires are so expensive and shit. Would love to try this but we are on some shady Scottish gas provider :(. Will be checkin back for future heating tips though :). Xxx

  7. if you’re planning on staying in the flat for a long time, you might find a dehumidifier to be a good idea. i don’t know how they compare cost-wise to using the central heating, but my flat suffers from a persistent chill from damp walls in winter and this, combined with savvy use of central heating where necessary really takes the chill out of my bones. you can set them so they only run when necessary, or put them on a timer to go on and off at certain times which is always helpful.

    regardless, that app looks GREAT! definitely something i need in my life.

  8. What a great idea! I love how you can turn it on and off from wherever you are. Hope the challenge works out well for you x

  9. How about a dehumidifier? We lived in a ground floor flat for ten years and it made a big difference although we still got musty drawers and cupboards and mouldy shoes, yuk. It was amazing how much water it used to suck out of the air and we used the water for plants or flushing the loo.

  10. This sounds like an awesome idea, we have our heating set to timer in the winter- we’re not a ‘go without’ kinda family when it comes to heating sadly, but being able to have more flexibility in when it’s on or off would be amazing.

  11. I have a dehumidifier that we run in our basement all year round. It works great at keep the basement and all my “treasure” or crap as my husband calls it dry plus it pumps out some heat as well. When my parents are here in the summer they stay in the bedroom down there and there is no musty smell in their room or dampness in the mattresses or blankets. Depending on the cost of your electricity it might be something to look into. They make energy efficient ones too and we haven’t noticed an increase to our electric bill because of this appliance. Good luck on your project. Love your blog.

  12. This sounds so cool! I want to be with British Gas now just to get this!

  13. I think we’re actually quite lucky with our basement flat, it doesn’t get that cold. We’ve lived here for 2 years without access to the boiler because it was in the house upstairs!! (so weird) but we’ve finally been fitted with our own so I’ll be interested to see just how much we use it this winter. Our bedroom suffers terribly with damp though because we have the bathroom in there too and there just isn’t enough ventilation.

  14. I’ve lived in loads of damp houses, and also basement flats. I share your shivers! We too have used a dehumidifer, they work well. Somehow having less damp seems to keep the air warmer. And makes things smell nicer too. If you could have an open fire that is brilliant but usually not a possibility in flats. Open windows clears the damp, but of course rbings in cold air (shiver brrrr) This device sounds pretty good, look forward to more of your posts on your findings. x

  15. Brr that’s the kind of cold that chills you to the bone. I like the idea of popping the heating on before you get home so the house is nice and toasty for you

  16. I’d definitely second the comment above about getting a dehumidifier. Electricity is generally cheaper than gas and these make drying clothes during the colder months a lot easier. I managed to get a pretty brilliant one for less than £50 on eBay.

  17. Have you considered about the damp proofing or even checked the reason for the basement getting wet.

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