Keep the home fires burning

Although he didn’t go in for keeping goats and hated gardening, my late father was, in many ways, a dead ringer for Tom Good in the 70s self sufficiency sitcom, The Good Life. He had converted our Ford Escort estate to run on liquid petroleum before Zak Goldsmith was out of nappies, and I can clearly remember him diverting water through a thin black hose pipe running up and down the corrugated garage roof to shave a few degrees off the hot water bill . Our tumble drier was so rarely used my mum used it to keep the pegs in, and there was nothing he loved more than a power cut – a chance to crank up the old donkey engine and fire up the oil lamps. So along with his eyebrows and aversion to fishing,I may have inherited his fascination with growing your own energy. And there has never been a better time to do it. Not only are fuel bills going through the (fortunately well-insulated) roof, but solar energy companies are falling over themselves to sell us solar panels before April when lucrative Government subsidies for installing them are likely to be cut. Some companies will even pay for the installation in return for a share of the electricity you generate, which, though tempting, may not work out to be the best longterm deal. Even open fires are coming back into vogue for economic, not just aesthetic reasons. Two of my neighbours have just paid out over a thousand pounds to have the flue in their chimney replaced, because they see heating their homes with a wood burner as a way of saving money. They are also looking forward to using this winter’s gas bills as kindling. So if you want to keep the home fires burning, and keep a lid on your fuel bills one of the best places to start is by visiting Scary statistic of the day: Ironic but true: According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, two million households saved an average of £2,300 a year when their fixed rate mortgage came to an end because the standard variable rate had fallen so sharply. No-one warns you your mortgage rate can “fall as well as rise” when you buy a house do they? Deal of the day: The Body Shop is offering a saving of 20% on Christmas gifts and 6% in your Kiddy Bank when you shop through KidStart – and if you buy the presents now you have time to pick and choose rather than bulk buy in a panic on Christmas Eve and end up presenting your Uncle Alan with a Vanilla Musk gift basket.