We might have experienced some pretty mild weather so far this Autumn/Winter with average temperatures in the South being higher than usual but, along with Christmas, December often accompanies a rise in the thermostat!
The long-range forecast from the Met Office suggests some colder weather, so we thought we’d take a look at some handy hints to helping you beat a commensurate rise in your fuel costs.
Use the Curtains
When it’s sunny outside, make sure you make the most of the solar heat gains to keep your rooms warm. Likewise, when it is cold and dark, shut the curtains to keep heat in the room.
Always make sure that any curtains that are drawn over a radiator do not ‘funnel’ heat into the window area but into the room instead.
If you can afford, or are thinking of replacing them anyway, use heavy thermally lined curtains to really boost the amount of warmth you can trap in your home.
Stay in Control
Using a timer with your thermostat is one of the best ways to manage your energy bills and to keep your home nice and warm. Many people set their heating to come on when they first wake up and when they get home from work but it can take an hour or so for your heating to reach your desired temperature; this can sometimes mean that your house is toasty warm long after you have left in the morning but doesn’t warm up until you head to bed each night.
It may take some experimenting but you may find that varying the ON/OFF times of your central heating could mean you run it for shorter periods but achieve a more optimal temperature when you need it.
Where’s the Thermostat?
Some modern thermostats can be moved around the home whilst others are mounted in a fixed position. It is important to ensure that this vital piece of control is positioned somewhere sensible to avoid overheating (or underheating) your home.
If you keep it in the kitchen where the air is often warmer, the boiler wll think it has reached the desired set point and start to idle. Likewise, if your thermostat is in a cool hallway, then the heating will continue to blast until this space has achieved the right temperature.
The perfect place for your thermostat is somewhere that is out of direct heat source but is indicative of the space you are trying to heat; somewhere like the living room is perfect.
It may seem like an obvious piece of advice but try and get in the habit (that includes everyone) of closing doors when you leave a room. Often corridors, halls and stairs do not have the same level of heating as the rooms we occupy and letting heat escape from one to the other can impact your energy usage.
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce heat loss from your home is to draught proof.
Modern homes are fitted with controlled ventilation to prevent damp by reducing condensation; things like trickle vents in windows or ventilation bricks. However, we are talking about those draughts that are uncontrolled such as poorly fitted windows and doors, open chimneys (when not in use) and gaps in floorboards or skirting boards. Letter boxes are also prime culprits!
You can easily fit purpose made draught proofing solutions even with the most basic of DIY skills. Even simple draught excluders are easy to fashion and work well to prevent the troublesome ingress of cold air.
Turn Down Thermostats in Unused Rooms
If you have TRV devices (temperature valves) fitted to the radiators in your home then you can adjust the heat output in each room according to the demand. It is recommended that you turn these down in rooms that are not frequently used.
Don’t Pull the Rug Out
Hardwood floors are very popular at the moment and they can really add a touch of elegance and style to your home. Unfortunately, if you don’t have underfloor heating fitted with them, they can also be quite cold to walk on, especially in the morning when you are heading downstairs for that first cup of coffee.
Rugs and carpets do stop heat from escaping through the floor and act as a thermal barrier to keep your home warm. We’re not suggesting you re-carpet for the winter but maybe a nice winter rug for the living room would help keep your feet warm.
Not for anyone who has pets or small children but when you have finished cooking in the oven, you could leave the door ajar and let the warm air heat the kitchen.
Shower with the Door Open
Yes, this might not be for everyone but having a hot shower generates a lot of heat that is often simply turned into condensation as it hits the cold windows of your bathroom. Showering with the door open allows some of this hot air to circulate in the rest of your home.
This measure is more of a long term investment than a quick fix but is well-worth considering, particularly if you have found your ‘home for life’. Having said this, insulation can improve the EPC rating of your property and make it a more attractive purchase if you intend to sell in the future.
Insulation can be added to your loft, walls and floors as well as around the heating pipework.
Costs and savings vary depending on your home but are estimated at around:
|Type of Insulation||One Off Cost||Annual Savings|
|Tanks, Pipes & Raditors||£50-£100||£10-100|
It might be too late, particularly with the looming cost of Christmas on the horizon, but double glazing is an effective way to reduce your heating costs and save significant sums on your energy bills. Not only that but they also do a great job at minimising sound pollution.
Annual savings will vary depending on the size of your home, the existing glazing and who you choose to fit them but you can expect to see a reduction of between £100 and £200 per year in your fuel bills.
Okay, so this tip might not save the environment but, did you know that, almost a quarter of people in the UK have never changer their energy suppliers! Although the domestic UK energy market has been open for competition since the late 1990s, there are still some people who feel the process is either too complicated or are not aware of the benefits that are available.
According to the comparison website, uSwitch, the average homeowner could save £482 per year when switching their energy providers to a more competitive contract.
With greater regulation and more streamlined transfer processes in place, switching your gas and/or electricity supplier is easy to do and can be completed in 17 days. You can even switch suppliers every month if you wish to (check terms of the contract you sign up for as some do include early-exit fees).
If you have switched providers in the past, there is no guarantee that you are still on the best deal available, particularly if your fixed term contract has lapsed.
It takes a few minutes to compare your current costs online with the best deals available and, as well as uSwitch, there are plenty of comparison sites offering this service.
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You can find more information about saving energy in your property in our blog guide, How to Save Energy in the Home.