MISS MONEYSAVER: Why digital thermostats are NOT such a hot buy
Do you get the feeling that some of the gizmos in your home are not as life-changing as they claim to be and yet cost more than the old-fashioned alternatives?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of progress. But I’m losing patience with a lot of tech now, and I question the claims made by so many manufacturers that their latest product will help bring costs down. Most of the time they don’t!
Take the simple thermostat on your wall. I say ‘simple’, but they’ve become increasingly complex and, to my mind, downright stupid in recent years.
My nice, basic thermostat recently broke and I asked my plumber to replace it with the same, simple, analogue dial that I could turn on and off. Instead he got me a digital one.
Admittedly it’s not too complex, I just have to keep pressing an ‘up’ button or a ‘down’ button to increase or reduce heat, but the dial was still better.
I’m losing patience with a lot of tech now, and I question the claims made by so many manufacturers that their latest product will help bring costs down. Most of the time they don’t! Take the simple thermostat on your wall (stock image)
It could be worse. My friend Helen, who recently moved into a new flat, has inherited a ridiculously complex digital thermostat that’s so difficult to understand she found herself freezing at night and boiling in the morning. She asked me if I could help, so I pored over the instructions and finally worked out that it was one of those awful gadgets that only allows you particular pre-arranged settings. You can’t turn it on and off when desired.
Next time I need a replacement thermostat, I’m going to look online because I’ve discovered you can still get ‘analogue’ thermostats (the ones with just a dial that you turn from 10c to 30c) starting from £16.13 on Amazon or Screwfix.
As a rule, a ‘manual’ thermostat (which may be a digital display one, or could be the analogue version) costs between £15 to £40, while a programmable one (like the annoying gizmo my friend Helen has) can cost up to £100.
A smart thermostat, meanwhile, that you can control with your phone, costs between £70 to £250.
You can find some cheaper ones like the Hive Mini Wireless Smart Thermostat which is just £58.99 at screwfix.com , though this is designed for new building installations, rather than upgrades to existing central heating.
When it comes to which type of thermostat saves you the most on your heating bill, personally, I would say that if you’re disciplined, the basic, manual ones save the most as you can switch the heating right off (or down) when you want to.
I am equally as sceptical about smart meters. Although they are great at showing us how much energy we’re using, you don’t need one to tell you to switch off the computer, TV or microwave.
Smart meters have also been known to suffer glitches (of course they do, they’re digital) and there are fears that energy companies will one day start to use these devices to charge us more for using power at peak times.
So although energy companies are keen for house-holders to have a smart meter, if you don’t want one, you can refuse.
As for smartphones. I’ve had one for years, but recently I met a guy at a conference who proudly showed me his ‘dumb phone’, which he said cost him under £100 to buy and the battery lasts for weeks.
I was tempted to trade in my smartphone then and there. I do use some of its clever features, such as the ‘maps’ app and the camera but many other functions are obsolete for me. ‘Dumb’ phones are not tracking your every move and word either. I feel uneasy feeling each time an ad pops up on my phone that is uncannily connected to something I’ve said earlier in the day.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who is thinking along these lines because ‘dumb’ phones have enjoyed a resurgence. Google searches rose by 89 per cent between 2018 to 2021, according to the SEO company Semrush.
They are even gaining popularity with younger users because they are cheaper to buy and run. Take the Vodafone Doro 1370, which is £16.99 at argos.co.uk.
It’s not so easy to find a ‘dumb’ car these days, however. According to Auto Express, the Dacia Sandero is the best bet for those like me who don’t want gadgets. The lowest spec still has air-con, remote central locking and cruise control, but there is no touchscreen.
For old-fashioned wind-up windows, you might get lucky at carsupermarket.com
Tune in to stream home entertainment for less
If you are interested only in one or two particular series, wait until that service offers a free trial and sign up. When the show ends, just cancel (stock photo)
According to Finder.com, 58 per cent of households in the UK subscribe to at least one online streaming service. It can be a convenient way to watch TV or listen to music, but how can you cut monthly fees?
Ask yourself: are you really using them all or are there some that you rarely use? If so, cancel the ones you hardly watch. Then consider the ones left. There may be a cheaper subscription or a version that includes ads. Many streaming services offer ad-supported options for a lower fee. ‘Bundling’ is also an option. You can get Sky TV, Netflix and Discovery+ for just £26 a month when bought together. For mobile phone streaming bundles, Vodafone includes YouTube Premium, Spotify Premium or Amazon Prime in any plan.
You could share streaming accounts. With Amazon Household, two adult Prime members can share digital content and other benefits, and it includes up to four teenagers (aged 13 to 17). Apple TV+ allows six simultaneous streams on one account, and Netflix can be shared across one household.
If you are interested only in one or two particular series, wait until that service offers a free trial and sign up. When the show ends, just cancel.
Seasonal discounts are often available around major holidays or events.
Free subscriptions are also offered as a perk by some companies. Lloyds Bank, for example, gives its Club Lloyds customers a free film each month through Rakuten TV.
Jam today and tomorrow with latest cashback app
There’s a new cashback app on the block called Jam Doughnut (jamdoughnut.com) and you can get extra initial cashback if you register with my exclusive code JASB (stock photo)
There’s a new cashback app on the block called Jam Doughnut (jamdoughnut.com) and you can get extra initial cashback if you register with my exclusive code JASB. If you download the app and register with that code, you will get 500 points (worth £5) when you make your first purchase through the app, so long as it’s made this weekend (March 18 to 19). There are more than 150 brands to use on the app so take a look at what’s on offer.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that we all have until April 5 to plug any National Insurance contribution gaps we have, all the way back to 2006. Well, the Government has now moved that date back to July 31 — phew! So now we have four-and-a-half months to go to gov.uk, check our NI payments since 2006 and pay extra to fill any years that are not complete in order to get the full state pension later on. From August 1, we will only be able to do it for the last six years.
Asda’s £1 kids’ meals are getting healthier as of Monday, March 20. There are two new hot meals on the menu: Penne Pasta with Meatballs and a vegan Hidden Veg Pasta meal. The hot meals also allow you to swap chips for salad or peas. Asda is also extending the offer to the Easter holidays to help hard-pressed families.
You could get a free bun by going to a bakery near you that sells goods made with Wildfarmed flour and saying ‘show me the Wildfarmed’. Sustainable farming pioneer, Wildfarmed, is offering free baked items over the next three weeks. For more details and to find your nearest bakery, visit wildfarmed.co.uk
- Got a question for Jasmine? Email her at [email protected] MoneyMagpie.com
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