Heating our homes is one of our biggest bills so using energy effectively is a really good idea. That means getting maximum benefit from the heat that you are paying for and finding clever ways to use less energy (saving you money and helping the environment) without compromising on comfort.
There are many ways to be more heat efficient that do require an initial outlay such as wall and loft insulation and energy efficient windows and doors and while these are all worth doing, this blog specifically looks at the low cost or free everyday things that you can do to keep your home warm over the winter months.
Radiators disperse heat into your home and they can do this much more effectively if the surrounding space is clear so that the heat is not blocked. Keep furniture away from the immediate area, especially soft furnishings such as sofas which can absorb an incredible amount of heat.
It can seem more energy efficient to dry clothes on the radiator than to use a tumble dryer but there are several reasons not to do this: it blocks heat coming from the radiator and can also create damp conditions in that area due to the water vapour it releases. An ‘A’ rated tumble dryer is actually very energy efficient and therefore a better option. If you’re worried about shrinking clothes, make sure you don’t overload the dryer which will cut down drying time and therefore reduce over-drying which is the biggest risk to delicate clothes. Even though it’s winter, we can still get sunny days so don’t assume you can’t dry clothes outside all winter. Take advantage of any winter sun we get and use your washing line! If you have an airing cupboard, this can be a good way of using the heat in that area.
Opening and closing your curtains at the appropriate times will both help you to take advantage of natural heat and conserve the heat you’re paying for. Keep curtains open wide during daylight hours, especially if it’s a sunny day. This will allow what natural heat there is into the home. As soon as it gets dark, close your curtains and blinds throughout the house – even in rooms that aren’t currently occupied (ie go and close the bedroom curtains rather than waiting for bedtime). This will help stop heat escaping. Thicker, lined curtains will be most effective, especially if they reach the floor.
Obviously, with the short days over winter, many people are still out at work when it gets dark. A small investment in some smart technology can allow you to close curtains using a timer.
You can use your internal doors in much the same way as you use your curtains. Keep them open through the day to allow air to circulate and any heat from the sun to flow through the house. Then, as you’re closing your curtains, close all the doors as well to conserve the heat.
Clearly, pumping heat into your home only for some of it to leak out again is a waste of money but you can ‘plug up’ the draught-prone areas pretty inexpensively and it could make a big difference.
Many of us may remember our grandmas using draught excluders at the base of the doors. As old fashioned as this may seem now, it does help so always worth considering (actually, they even sell them in John Lewis so perhaps not as old fashioned as you may think!).
An unused chimney can be a major source of lost heat. There are inexpensive products you can buy, such as a chimney balloon or chimney sheep, that fill the cavity near the bottom of the chimney and stop warm air escaping. Obviously you can only do this if there is no fire in use.
You would be surprised how much heat can be lost via letterboxes and keyholes but these can be minimised with letterbox seals and keyhole covers. Likewise, if you have a cat flap but no longer have a cat, consider getting this sealed up.
It’s a myth that it’s cheaper to leave your heating on low all the time than having it on a timer so use your timer in a smart way. Think about your daily movements and that of the other people in the home. Have the heating come on a little before you get up so that the house is warm when you get out of bed but if just one person gets up much earlier than everyone else, consider whether it’s worth heating the whole house for hours before the majority of people get up (or can you set several times throughout the day so it goes off and then back on again for everyone else?).
Once the heating goes off it will take around 30 minutes before the radiators cool so set the timer for well before you leave for work or school rather than continuing to heat an empty house.
If you come and go at irregular times it could be prudent to have a smart thermostat installed such as Hive or Nest as this will allow you to control the heating easily depending on your movements each day.
Remember that your central heating is just one method of keeping yourself warm. Opting for a bowl of soup over a sandwich and plenty of cups of tea will help you stay warm, as will a hot bath or shower. Heat the house to ‘jumper level’: wear plenty of layers including a nice thick jumper when at home. If you’re warm enough in just a T shirt or thin top then you’re wasting heat you could be reducing. Moving around will also help you stay warmer than sitting still so keep getting up to make cuppas or do little jobs and when you do settle down for the evening there is no shame in a snuggly blanket!
Most people are reliant on their boiler to heat their homes and they may have other heat sources such as a fire or stove. The most cost efficient way of heating your home is to make sure these heat sources are working efficiently and that means servicing them annually. The cost of a boiler or fire service will be more than covered by how well you keep these appliances working. It’s a real false economy not to do this.
Obviously, if you have money to invest, there are lots of ways to really insulate your home well but in the meantime, these low-or-no-cost measures will really make a difference; saving you money and keeping you toasty over the long winter months.
If this is the case you could be wasting money on energy that is not translating to actual heat. It is therefore much more cost effective to make sure you look after your boiler. Tackle any issues as soon as they become apparent to minimise the amount of money you’re wasting.
We can offer a number of services to keep your boiler or gas fire working well from servicing and proactive maintenance such as adding inhibitor to remedying issues. Call us on 0800 032 6478 or send us a message. Do it now before the weather gets really cold.
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