Winter has come, more or less, bringing with it the trademark icy winds and biting frost that frustrate our darkened early-morning commutes.

Winter isn’t all glum, being also the wrapper in which we find the most joyous of festive periods – but it still does bring a different kind of weight, particularly when it comes to our household expenditure.

For whatever reason, household expenditure tends to increase in the wintertime. This is something that has been especially keenly felt over the past few years, and which cannot be solely explained by our Christmas gift-buying habits either. So, mounting festive spending notwithstanding, why is it exactly that our costs seem to soar during the colder months of the year?


Winter seems to be the time of year when things just go wrong. The weather itself can be a contributing (and villainous) factor in this, with freezing water pipes and overtaxed combi boilers leading to some significant cost consequences for the average household. It is for these sudden and unexpected costs that having emergency savings is a blessing, but the negative impact of such costs is still felt keenly even if well prepared for.


Another part of this perceived ‘winter tax’ naturally comes in the form of energy expenditure, where our central heating systems creak back into life as temperatures drop into single digits. Even at the best of times, the cost associated with heating your home can be significant – but, economically speaking, we are not in the best of times. 

It is no secret that energy costs have shot up since 2021, but it is easy to forget by how much. A number of factors, including new barriers to trade brought about by Brexit, led to wholesale energy costs shooting up, in turn pushing domestic energy bills up to the Ofgem price cap (a cap which only existed to prevent predatory tariffs). While they have relaxed a little since those days, they are not returning to pre-2021 prices – and, indeed, are projected to increase by 5% in 2024


By the same token, fuel costs have also increased over the past few years. The oil industry was shaken both by Brexit and by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions for which have seen the Black Sea supply all but cut off. This led to petrol and diesel prices touching £2 per litre for the first time in UK history.

These international factors have had undeniable impacts on fuel prices generally, but those impacts are more impactful for the increased reliance of households on private transport during the winter. Between increased public transport cancellations and increased road closures for poor weather, people are likely to drive more, and further per trip, in the winter.


Finally, it would be difficult to ignore the impact of rising food costs on winter expenditure. The scope of the cost-of-living crisis was not limited to utilities, with supermarkets seeing prices rise by over a fifth in some cases. The truth is a little darker than geopolitical tension here, though; recent calls for an investigation into supermarket price gouging may have been found to be justified…

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