Holding drink in front of fireplace

With the temperature having already dropped and the first frosty nights in several areas of the UK, plus the promise of a harsh winter ahead, many of us will be groaning at the thought of our winter fuel bills. Money Super Market reports that we spend on average £1,249 on energy each year and it is one of the family’s biggest bills. The price of gas and electricity has already significantly increased and there could be further increases on the way, so are there any good ways to help slash the cost of winter heating?

The answer is a huge ‘YES’ with both large and small things that can be done to help shave some ££££s off your bill.

As the chilly weather approaches, it is well worth talking time to assess some of the ways in which you are losing heat from your house and are effectively helping ‘to heat the street’.

How competitive is your provider?

All the increases in prices have been announced, so now is a good time to check that your provider is competitive in prices. Check the tariffs of competitors and if they are better, consider swapping your provider. This is relatively easy to do and it is worth giving this top priority. Whilst you are checking out the providers, see if there is one that can provide both gas and electricity if needed as this could save you money. The easiest way to pay to spread the load is to set up a monthly standing order with your bank.

How efficient is your boiler?

The most efficient boilers on the market are ‘A rated’ condenser boilers so if you have a less efficient boiler it could be increasing your fuel bills by as much as 50% so although it will be expensive to replace it, you will save the cost of the new boiler in just a few years.

How good is your loft insulation?

Poor roof insulation is a little like not wearing a hat on a winter’s day because as much as 20% of the heat from your home can be lost through your loft if it is poorly insulated. Ensuring your loft is well insulated is relatively straight forward and is a job most people can tackle.

The insulation needs to be at least 270 mm (10.5 inches) thick and the best insulating material is mineral wool insulation. The cost of improving the insulation depends on the size of your roof but for the average sized house it will be in the region of £150 – £250 – with the bonus that you will save 50% on your heating bills each year so in two years you will have totally recouped the cost.

And the insulation in your walls?

Imagine pouring water through a colander, that is the effect that walls with poor insulation will have on your precious heating – it will simply seep through into the night! It is possible to get extra cavity wall insulation installed that will certainly make the difference and help keep the warmth in. It is hard to give an accurate cost as it depends on the size of your house but the cost will be £300 – £450 which sounds scary until you consider the fact that with improved wall insulation you will save many ££s on the bill in the first year.

Insulate your water tank!

Would you believe it? If you buy a really good insulating jacket for your boiler, at a cost of up to £25, you will save that amount of money in just one year and you will definitely find that your water stays hotter for longer – even overnight.

Small tricks that save pennies

One of the easiest ways to cut your bill by 5 – 10% is to lower the thermostat by 1ºC – it doesn’t sound much but it will make a huge difference. If you lower the thermostat and slide tin foil behind the radiators so that the heat is radiated back into the room, the temperature difference will not even be noticed.

Another sensible move is to wear an extra layer of clothes. This may sound strange, but many families wear tee-shirts in the house all year round and have the thermostat turned up to ensure they don’t feel cold. Wearing a warm jumper definitely makes the difference and if you still feel cold, a snug thermal vest will make you feel really cosy. If it is your feet that get cold, a pair of thermal socks will definitely warm them up quickly and are very reasonably priced in all the major stores.

Check the radiators!

Whilst it is a good idea in cold weather to have all the radiators on in rooms that are not being used, the radiators should be just open as there is no need to heat the room thoroughly but just to keep the system ticking over. Don’t forget to close all doors to unused rooms as this will help prevent the heat from escaping from the rooms you are heating.

If you use gas appliances for heating, it may well be worthwhile to upgrade them to the latest energy efficient model as any outlay will be saved by the cut in your gas consumption.

How are your curtains?

This may sound a daft question, but if your curtains are thick and well lined they can really make a difference to the insulation of your room. There are a number of curtains on the market that are specifically designed to maximise their insulating properties and they are not very expensive. To ensure that the curtains can work really efficiently, it is worth putting insulating tape around windows, along the bottom of doors and where the skirting board meets the floor.

Make yourself a draught excluder!

Definitely a little old fashioned, but they really do work and they are cheap and cheerful to make! They are effective at stopping draughts coming in under front doors and back doors and they can be made to colour coordinate with your colour scheme!

Looking to the future…

If you haven’t got double glazing, it is a major project to get it installed but it will pay for itself over a 10-15 year period as it really prevents heat loss through the windows with the extra bonus that it cuts noise too! It is worth researching which is the best type of double glazing to have installed and to get several quotations.

With the introduction of the Smart Meter and its installation in homes across the country, householders will be paying for exact amount of energy they have consumed and not relying on estimates which always err on the high side. With a smart metre you will be able to track your energy consumption accurately which will help you pinpoint where you can make further savings on your bills in future years…

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