Strip-washing and snuggie blankets: How rising bills and Heartbeat inspired me to live without paying a penny for heating or hot water

'They’re not getting any more out of me,' says Lee Beaumont, 25, who wants to see if he can last a year without paying for any utilities

It started in February when Lee Beaumont was faced with a £1,000 bill to have a new boiler fitted.

Instead of gritting his teeth and reaching into his pocket, he simply decided he would do without gas or hot water for a year.

“It was hard at first, especially the hygiene side of things,” admitted the 25-year-old entrepreneur who works from home.

But ever the true Yorkshireman, he took inspiration from TV programme ‘Heartbeat’ where he saw characters boiling water to take strip-washes.

Lee Beaumont loves to save money The self-confessed “hard-core money-saver” also joined as many mailing lists for gyms as possible.

“Every few months they offer free two or three-day trials, so I can then use their showers twice a day,” he explained.

Though Lee was without a boiler in the depths on winter, he refused to use any heaters at all.

During the day he wore a ‘snuggie blanket’ and didn’t sleep with a normal duvet unless it was really cold.

As the mercury has started to drop again, he has bought an electric blanket, but is still reluctant to use it.

Realising that he would be using far less water, Beaumont had a meter installed. But after finding he was using just one unit a month, which cost £3, and paying a £14 service charge, he decided to take his mission one step further.

“I phoned them up and asked to be cut off, but they wouldn’t do it because it’s illegal,” he said.

After reading the Water Act, Lee discovered that water companies are indeed obliged to supply clean drinking water to all homes, but he also found that he did not have to accept it.

His supplier was unable to turn off the supply, but agreed to freeze the account and do a meter reading once a month to check he wasn’t using any water.

Lee turned off the stopcock completely in April and started buying 14 five-litre bottles of water a month costing him £14.

Bella the dog The change made him more conscious about how much water he was using. For instance, by using water from his dog Bella’s drinking bowl to flush the toilet, he makes sure not a drop is wasted and Bella gets plenty of fresh water to drink.

The savings on his other bills further drove him to slice more off of his electricity costs. “It made me want to save more money,” he said.

Lee is now on an Economy 7 tariff, which offers cheaper electricity at night than during the day, as a result he’s become partially nocturnal.

He also uses an old fashioned phone, so he doesn’t have to pay any electricity costs on a cordless model - once again he got this idea from ‘Heartbeat’.

No need for a fridge: Lee's milk supply “I sleep during the day and work at night,” he said, and has now managed to cut his electricity bill to just £3.66 a week, including VAT.

But he’s still not satisfied: His goal is £2 a week. 

When his provider, partnered with SSE, announced it was increasing bills by an average 8.2% last week, he decided to turn his fridge-freezer off. “They’re not getting any more out of me,” he commented.

Most of the food he eats, such as porridge and noodles, can be made simply by boiling water.

And he’s now bought a stash of long-life milks for cups of tea - the one thing he refuses to do without.

“I just love saving money,” Lee explained – estimating he has shaved at least £136 off bills since February. And, of course, the £1,000 cost of that new boiler. 

You can keep up with how Lee’s getting on through his blog here.