Winter is coming (as John Snow would say) and this year more than ever, all of us are worried about rising energy bills and the cost of keeping our homes nice and warm through next spring.
The government has stepped in to help mitigate rising bills with the average household paying no more than £2,500 for the year. Those living in apartments or terraced homes will see smaller rises, but semi-detached and larger detached homeowners will experience larger proportional increases in their energy bills as unit prices surge.
But with Christmas approaching, as best possible we want to ensure our households can enjoy this time of year, not simply endure it.
So, we’ve created some actionable ways in which you can look to save money on heating your home this winter, and for the winters to come.
Request a smart meter
The best place to start is to understand how much energy your home uses currently, and which appliances are costing the most.
Installing a smart meter means you can play a surprisingly fun game of ‘how much does this cost to use?’, checking everything from different ceiling lights, lamps, devices and, of course, the heating.
This process can help to pinpoint items in your home that are draining more power than they should be. For example, older ceiling lights that you haven’t gotten around to replacing, could be costing you 70p an hour to run – whereas a lamp may be just 5p an hour.
You’ll also see how expensive it is to run your dishwasher or your electric airer, and other ‘not quite essentials’ that you could use less often to help cover the cost of having the heating on more often.
Learn more about getting a smart meter on the Ofgem website here.
Plug obvious sources of draughts
This is a really simple but effective way to keep the cold out, and the warm in.
Do a little tour of your home once you’ve had the central heating on for an hour or so and see if you can detect any cold air coming in – most notably from external doors, windows or chimney breasts.
Any gaps around windows, or ill-fitting panes, can be fixed with some sealant, whilst draughts from the front or back door can be negated with draught excluders.
You can also use draught excluders to help stop colder air seeping in from ‘cool rooms’, which we’ll discuss next…
Don’t heat rooms you’re not using
The fewer rooms you try to heat, the less hard your heating will have to work to warm the rooms you use all the time.
Spare bedrooms, little-used home offices, hallways or even downstairs WCs can all see the radiator valves either turned right down or switched off completely – or just allow them to heat up once or twice a week (such as when friends or family are coming to visit!)
These dedicated ‘cool rooms’ will allow stretched finances to go into heating the vital spaces in your home, such as the living room and kitchen.
A similar approach can be taken to lighting too, especially if you’ve analysed smart meter data and seen how much it costs to light up rooms that you rarely use, or just walk through occasionally.
For serious longer-term money saving, you can also invest in motion-sensing light switches, useful especially for hallways, garages or bathrooms.
Alternative heating sources
If you only want to heat one room that your whole household is using, it could be cheaper to do so without using central heating.
Oil radiators, electric fan heaters and the farmer’s favourite log-burning stove can all prove slightly more cost-effective ways to get a lot of heat into a targeted space.
The potential cost savings won’t outweigh what you’d spend on buying one of these for this winter alone, but if you have an oil radiator at the back of the garage somewhere, or a fireplace you’ve enjoyed looking at but never used, then give them a test to see if they do work out cheaper (using your newly-installed smart meter!).
Future proof by investing in better insulation
The UK’s housing stock is old and leaks a lot of heat – in fact, it’s the worst in Europe for retaining the warmth we pump into them.
The reason for this is a lack of insulation. Investments in loft insulation, for example, used to take years to repay through savings on energy bills. But with costs rising, the payback period is a lot shorter.
For example, here at Sagars, we help transform homeowners’ cold and damp conservatories into spaces they can use all year through conservatory roof insulation which is extremely effective at trapping heat.
Our customers report that they see their heating bills drop by over 25% once their conservatory insulation has been installed, such as the leakiness of traditional conservatory roofing materials.
Learn more about the benefits of conservatory roof insulation here.
Little additional ideas
One of the larger energy companies got into some trouble earlier in the year by suggesting that households could keep warm by hugging their pets if they couldn’t afford the heating.
Whilst somewhat tone-death advice for the time, there are little additional things we can do to try and keep warm and reduce our reliance on central heating.
For example, you could fill the living room with cosy blankets and create a bit of a den vibe when the family chills out in the evening. The dog or cat that was once banished from the sofa or bed could be allowed up too. Double socks, thick jumpers, electric blankets and hot water bottles can all help to keep us warmer too.
If you are worried about heating your home this winter, then do speak to your energy supplier. There are schemes and grants available which may be able to help, and they’ll be able to give you more advice on how to reduce your bills.