This story all goes back to twelve months ago when our twenty-five year old boiler broke down in the middle of winter. Thankfully after just a few days our landlord arranged for a plumber to install a new boiler and bring our heating system into the twenty-first century.

Once the system was up and running we were shocked to realise that our new fancy thermostat showed that the temperature in the living room was a rather chilly 14 degrees! As you would expect, we immediately fired the new boiler into action and quickly got the temperature up to a more comfortable 21 degrees.

Over the coming weeks and months we both took great pleasure in monitoring the temperature and the timing in which the boiler turned on and off to ensure that we were never too hot or too cold. This behaviour continued unabated into mid-spring when warmer weather finally greeted Northern Europe.

We can gave this topic no more thought for the next six months, as we battled the opposite problem of struggling to keep our apartment below 25 degrees as a long, hot and humid heatwave hit. However, reality soon caught up with us…

Just as Winter was ready to rear its ugly head once more, we received a letter through the post from our gas provider. This was a rare as they normally take the monthly contribution directly from our joint bank account. Sure enough, they were not writing to us to inform us that we had just won a random raffle and would now be receiving free heating for life. Rather, the letter informed us that due to our significant increase in gas consumption we now owe them an additional 900€!

Naturally, we assumed that this must be a mistake and that we could not possibly have increased our consumption by such a significant proportion as previously we had only consumed around 500€ for the whole year! However, upon double and then triple checking our gas meter we came to the horrible realisation that this was not an administration error but in fact our own ignorance.

After looking back at last winter, we realised that neither of us ever considered the fact that by just having the heating on a little longer it would result in us paying more – mad we know!

This coming winter if we are ever feeling a bit chilly we are going to reach for a jumper long before we reach for the thermostat.

Have you ever been hit by a surprise bill? How did you handle it? Got any tips for keeping warm? Let us know in the comments section below.