Essential winter gadgets

These days there is a gadget for everything, but some are more useful than others. The laptop desk that attaches to your steering wheel is a certainly rather stupid idea, and the less said about the iPotty the better.

But there are plenty of gadgets that make life easier, and in the cold winter months that’s just what we want.

So to make the festive season go smoothly this year, here are our top winter gadgets. Enjoy!

Dehumidifer

peltier-dehumidifier-AquaDri.
Say no to chesty coughs this winter
In the months that end with ‘R’ the air is moist due to low temperatures. This can cause damp, which in turn can cause mould spores and dust mites, both are bad news for your health.

With a dehumidifier however that risk is diminished. It works by collecting moisture either via a fan, electric current on crystal and turning it into water. Simply dispose of the water, and job done.

Log splitter

D3803 Dual Logmaster Logsplitter 2 Cj
Fire the fast way
Chopping wood is always a hard task, but especially in the depths of winter. No one wants to stand in the cold swinging a rather dangerous axe around! That is where a log splitter comes in handy.

Simply put, log splitters make better fires. This is because wood that has been split into smaller pieces burns better. The oxygen needed to keep a fire going has more access to the wood as there is a larger surface area, and this in turn means a brighter, warmer fire.

Instead of a sharp point being swung at speed, a hydraulic or foot operated log splitter works with a splitting wedge, meaning you don’t have to strain your back and you can split more wood than you could by hand.

Halogen oven

Halogen Oven
Impromptu roast dinner anyone?
With winter bills rising, we’re all looking for ways to save money, and a halogen oven will slash bills. Based on a 1300w 12 litre halogen oven cooking a chicken in 40 minutes, you’ll only have to spend 9p on electricity!

You may be wondering how a chicken can cook in 40 minutes? Well, because of hi tech halogen bulb technology and a fan to ensure all of the bowl gets heat, a halogen oven is able to cook tasty food fast.

Potato peeler

Electric potato peeler
How do you like your spuds in the morning?
Stews, roast dinners and soups are the epitome of winter warming food – and potatoes are often an important part of the meal.

When shivering and in need of a winter warmer, like the traditional Welsh dish of cawl, peeling potatoes can be a time consuming task. And for those with joint problems, it can be painful too.

But an automatic potato peeler uses a rotating blade to quickly take the skin off your spuds. Meaning those with poor dexterity needn’t be in pain, those that get cold hands needn’t get numb fingers and those who have a huge Christmas dinner to make, can get on basting the turkey!

For hands that don’t ache, a fire that burns well and fully functioning lungs our gadgets will see you right. And if you do want to research halogen oven recipes online, avoid the steering wheel lap desk, the M1 is for driving after all.


Top 10 ways to beat rising energy costs

Rising energy bills are a hot topic right now in the UK — if only the same could be said for much of the shivering population struggling to pay them.

Winters seem to be getting colder — nice one global warming — so it’s time to get savvy to lower your energy costs. Here are your top ten tips!

1. Change providers

gas flame
Image source: Nikkytok
Don’t be afraid to chase the best deals

There is an ongoing price war happening between the energy providers, which is good news as it means they will be offering reduced prices to attract new customers. Keep an eye on any deals you could benefit from if you switch to another company (and read the small print). And don’t be afraid to keep on switching and chasing the discounts.

2. Wear more clothes indoors

wrap up for winter
We’re talking thermals, jumpers, hats all wrapped up in a wooly blanket.
Source: OMG Images

An easy one really, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wear enough clothes when indoors. If you’re relaxing on the sofa and not moving, then you’re not generating heat, so wrap up a little.
You don’t need to wear a fur coat, but bring out the woolies and make sure that you’re preventing your body heat from escaping.

3. Improve insulation

Heavy curtains
Image source: Alexandru Nika
Make your own heavy duty curtains to keep the cold at bay

Would you keep pouring water in a jug if it had a leak? No. So why throw away money heating a house with bad insulation? It’s madness. Locate and destroy any draughts by insulating them in whatever way you can afford.
Windows and doors are the chief suspects so if you can’t afford to buy new ones, then insulate them better. Any cracks can be fixed with draught excluder sealant, invest in a good pair of thick thermal curtains which can improve energy efficiency by as much as 25% and use draft excluders for the bottoms of doors.

4. Move and keep active

Crunch
Image source: Wavebreak Media Ltd
You can’t be cold whilst doing crunches!

Movement equals energy and energy equals heat. Move and your body will generate it’s own heat and also get everything firing up and flowing — a bit like starting up the boiler.
Buy a fitness video and take up home aerobics, get into a bit of festive DIY or increase your quota of rumpy pumpy sessions — guaranteed to provide enough heat for two.

5. Wood fuelled heating

log splitter
Save time with one of these handy log splitters
Source: Clifford James

Plan ahead and take into account the savings over a few winters. With that in mind, invest in a wood burner or get your fireplace and chimney back in working order.
And avoid all the axe work on Christmas morning with your very own hydraulic log splitter, which will get through the big stuff quicker than it takes the youngsters to open their presents.

6. Meal preparation

Jacket potato
Image source: Olga Miltsova
Is there anything more appealing during winter? Answer: no

Eat. Your body needs food to generate heat, so don’t skimp on meals and make sure you’re well fed. Stuff like jacket potatoes, soups and comforting dishes like cottage pie are reasonably cheap and will warm you up too.
And save money by preparing stuff in the microwave (which is far more energy efficient than a gas cooker). Or how about throwing a foil-wrapped potato in your new wood burner?

7. Choose your room

sun light window
Use your south-facing room as a winter snug
Source: The Frugal Girl

When the freeze kicks in and the heating needs to be on — then it’s time to get tactical. Ideally you want to be using a south-facing room as your winter hideout as it will trap some of the heat from the sun, which can go a long way to keeping the room warm all day if it’s insulated well.
If you don’t have a south-facing room, then choose the smallest room, as it will be much easier to insulate and keep warm and put some foil behind the radiators to reflect the heat back into the room. And you don’t need the heating on in all the rooms — just your living space and sleeping abode will do the trick, so turn some of those radiators off and save money.

8. Invest in a super quilt

Duvet
Image source: BCFC
So toasty you won’t want to get out of bed in the mornings

Ask a granny to knit you a toasty blanket or invest in a super winter-spec quilt, which can be picked up cheap enough. And use it! Have it with you on the sofa and then snuggle up in bed. It may be frosty in your room, but under that quilt it’s summertime.

9. Energy efficient products

lamp
Go green when buying lightbulbs
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Using energy-saving light bulbs will save you money in the long term as will opting for the more economical white goods like washing machines and freezers.
And upgrading an uneconomical boiler is also an excellent investment that could save up to £300 per year. The initial outlay for more efficient products is likely to be costly, but if you were to work out the total costs over a few years, then savings would be made.

10. Spend more time around friend’s houses

Football friends
Image source: Monkey Business Images
Cheeky but effective

Bit of a cheeky one, but hey, what are friends for? Pop around their houses and hang out in their sub tropical lounges (for as long as you can manage without appearing to be unofficially couch-surfing).