Brits need to brace themselves as heating bills plop through their letterboxes. | Gemma Andreu

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January is hardly anyone’s favourite month I suppose, unless that is - your star sign is Capricorn. Indeed, it is said that the last Monday in the month is the most depressing day of the whole year bar none. This is apparently because the weather is usually awful, the Christmas bills need to be paid and you have become fat after a month long over indulgence in the food and drink department.

So as to cheer you up, this year it seems that your fuel costs are set to go through the roof as well. This is if Majorcan fuel bills are to rise as quickly and steeply as they are predicted here in the United Kingdom. Here, it seems that in a mere three months fuel charges could rise by as much as 30% and rising! Even taking into consideration the UK’s media penchant to exaggerate wildly about almost anything - it does seem that Brits need to brace themselves as heating bills plop through their letterboxes.

Happily, there does seem to be a way out of this costly dilemma and that is to use less heating - yes really! It seems that fifty years ago the average indoor temperature in the United Kingdom was 12°C. Now it’s 18°C. For instance, in 1970 very few homes had central heating. It was very much a huddle around the coal fire in that one room era - a lovely 20°C - but minus 5°C below elsewhere. We are talking of an era where if sat in front of the fire the front of you was as warm as toast, yet the rest of your body was rather chilly. Without going into the whole “those were hard times…” monologue, I reckon that most of us who were around then would recognise this scenario.

In saying this, I have to tell you that many folk in the UK have this strange conception of life in Mallorca. I have lost count how many times friends, family and acquaintances here seem to think that Mallorca in deep mid-winter has a climate of endless sunny days with the temperature hovering around the 25°C mark.

I do try to explain to them that you have had a very wet autumn and the weather can be treacherous in January and February but to no avail. Indeed, I know many homes on the island have no central heating save for expensive electric heaters and the winter months can be uncomfortable for many families; but you try explaining that to someone who’s only experience of the island is of wall-to-wall sunshine in July and August.

Anyway, back to Blighty and mostly with a flick of a thermostat the whole home heats up, bedrooms, spare rooms, conservatories (aka - lean-too’s!) everything - whether it actually needs heating or not. We heat rooms we are not actually in and we heat them for longer. You don’t have to be that bloke on the telly, the money-saving expert, to see that’s not a good way of saving your hard earned cash.

Anyway, I’ve been reading up on this and it seems that you don’t have to heat your bedroom as it’s not that healthy - so stop it will you? It seems that if you turn off the radiator and open the window. You’ll sleep better in cool fresh air - yes, really. In the winter another duvet might do the trick and you might try wearing those pyjamas you received three Christmases ago as well. What about the rest of the house? Well, ditto actually - as in, put on some extra clothes.

When my kids were young and living at home, like most people I know I spent much of my time walking from room-to-room switching off the lights. Nowadays with no children around to annoy me, I like to keep a firm grip of the thermostats and am always vigilant in this regard no matter what abuse I might receive from a woman I know. Mind you, this is as nothing compared to trying to control the use of the air conditioning in a Mallorcan home. I remember my son and his now - wife, coming to stay at ours on the island.

A lovely couple, soon to be the parents of my grandchildren, but at one time receiving a severe b******** from me when they left the air-con in their bedroom on all day - have you ever seen that electric gauge thingy spinning around when the air-conditioning is on? I almost had a fit and they still laugh at my reaction at their casual indifference to my potentially ruinous ‘lecky’ bill. Happily, I notice that their sons get told-off now for much the same when they leave lights on around their house - good. Seriously, when you look at the difference in average household temperatures from now to times past, it does come as somewhat of a surprise.

However, what we had then was basically only heating a room or on rare occasions ‘rooms’ that were actually in use. Of course, easier then when central heating was a rarity in working class home - and before you accuse me of being some sort of class warrior if you have ever visited a country house (Pile?) summer or winter, the place would always be, perhaps inevitably, freezing cold.

So then folks, what we all have to do to save money - and some would say live a healthier lifestyle, is to eschew overheating your homes in the winter months - and for those in Mallorca, go easy on the air-con during the summer months. Sometimes the simple way of warming a room is by closing a door; similarly, opening that same door in the summer might just have the opposite effect. Who would have thought it?