Heating accounts for over 70 per cent of household energy consumption in the UK, with the British public typically switching on their heating in October and using it daily until March. With fuel prices more than double those from 12 months ago, even with the government’s energy price cap, here are six simple steps to keep your home a little warmer and reduce your energy consumption.
- Use your curtains to keep in the heat at night
Even with double or triple glazing, properties still lose a significant amount of heat through their windows. When closed, curtains act as another layer of insulation over the windows, keeping the warmth inside, with thick lined curtains offering better insulation than lightweight alternatives. Shutters offer a further layer of insulation and protection for the elements if you have them.
To make the most effective use of your curtains you should open them during the day to let in the warm sunlight and shut them as it gets dark and you turn the heating on so that you lose less heat to the outside world.
- Block out the draughts
Your doors and windows may be letting cold air into your home, and so to stay warm you should endeavour to block these up as much as possible before the cold weather really starts to bite. Just adding a sausage-dog draught excluder, which you can make yourself or buy online for under a tenner, under the door will make a noticeable difference to most rooms, and completing the task by adding self-adhesive rubber seals around doors and windows could save you hundreds of pounds on your heating bill this year.
Basic draught-proofing is something you can do yourself quite cheaply. Incense sticks are a useful tool to find any drafts – if you hold the stick by a door or window and the smokes goes straight up then there is no draught to worry about, but if it blows horizontally then there is a gap that needs to be filled. However, if you do not have the time to find these problems and make the improvements yourself then a professional can help and make sure any holes in your windows, doors, floors, and skirting boards and blocked up for a couple of hundred pounds – an investment you will make back on your bills within a couple of years.
- Use timers on your central heating
Even in the coldest months in the UK, you do not need to have your boiler running 24/7 to stay warm. It is a myth that leaving your heating on all day at a lower level will save you money in comparison to turning it on to a slightly higher level and off again.
Ideally, you should set your boiler to come on at the right temperature around 30 minutes before you get up in the morning so that it will have warmed the house by the time you get out of bed. And then it should be set to go off again around 30 minutes before you leave the house. You can then set it to come on again for an hour or so in the evening, or longer in the coldest months, with it again set to switch off around 30 minutes before you head to bed.
- Install thermostatic radiator valves
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) do not control the boiler and are instead fitted to radiators directly and work by sensing the air temperature around them. If the air around them is warmer than the setting, the valve will close a little and let less hot water into the radiator and let the room cool, and if it is colder it will open the valve and let in more hot water and heat the room.
- Maximise your insulation
Compared to the rest of Europe, British houses tend to be quite poorly insulated and focusing on fixing this will save you hundreds of pounds every year. Around a quarter (25%) of heat is lost through the roof, and so adding roof insulation is a quick and simple way to save hundreds of pounds on your heating costs every year. Meanwhile, around a third of heat is lost through the walls, and whilst cavity wall insulation is more difficult and expensive to fit than loft insulation, it will also save you money in the long term.
Some energy companies may offer subsidised insulation schemes, and so it is always worth checking with them as to whether they will help with the cost of insulation and our local London handymen will always be able to complete the job for a reasonable fee.
- Reflect the heat
Radiators are often positioned on exterior walls, which means that a large part of the heat they produce is being wasted heating the wall and the outside world. Radiator panels are relatively cheap, easy to install, and reflect this heat back into your home – reducing the heating loss by up to 45 per cent.