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How to save on heating this winter

With energy bills so high anything you can do to keep costs down is worth a try.

When the weather turns, we'll all want to conserve energy with the current cost of living crisis.

By thinking carefully about how to limit the amount of gas and electricity used, we can avoid waste and hopefully keep energy costs to a minimum.

A person adjusting temperature on heating radiator

Even with the latest energy price cap, the average UK household can expect to spend around £2,500 a year on gas and electricity over the year. So, while we all hope for a mild winter there are plenty of ways to save on heating bills.

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12 ways to save money on heating

With energy prices so hefty, here’s a dozen tips that could help you cut costs: 

 

1. Consider installing smart heating

If you’ve got some spare cash, you could invest in a smart heating system. Smart heating isn’t the same as a smart meter, which is simply a device that sends near-live readings to your supplier.

A smart heating system from the likes of Hive, Nest, Honeywell or Drayton links with other devices, such as your mobile phone. 

 

2. Install thermostatic radiator valves

Without thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), your system’s either on or off. With TRVs you can set to setting usually between 1 and 5 and they’ll shut off when the room reaches the target temperature. You’ll need a TRV on all your radiators, bar 1 – usually in the bathroom, so the system is balanced.

Whether you’ve got TRVs or not it’s best to turn off radiators in unused rooms, such as spare bedrooms.

 

3. Turn radiators off in unused rooms

By being more selective with the rooms you heat, it could save you a lot on heating bills.

For example, if you're working from home with nobody else in the house, why not consider only turning the heating on in the room you're working in?

If you've got thermostatic radiator valves, you should be able to control the heating in each room.

 

4. Draught proof your home

Draughts cost money, as they're a tell-tale sign that heat is escaping from your home. Where possible you should do what you can to eradicate draughts, by trying the following:

  • Seal gaps between skirting boards, loft hatches, window and door frames and walls with caulk
  • If you don’t have double glazing apply self-adhesive shrink wrap to clean dry window panes
  • Block fireplaces, chimneys and flues that are no longer used
  • Ensure carpets have underlays to offer extra insulation
  • Use draught excluders to block gaps under doors
  • Buy keyhole covers and letter boxes with a brush or rubber seal
  • Hang curtains in front of all windows and even your front door (if it leads directly into your living room)
 

5. Insulate your loft

About 25% of the heat loss in UK homes happens through the roof, so adding insulation could cut your heating bill dramatically. According to the Energy Saving Trust, laying rolls of loft insulation in a semi-detached could save you £355 a year in energy bills..

 

6. Bleed radiators 

How to bleed a radiator

If your radiators feel cool at the top when the heating’s on, air has got trapped in the radiator. This reduces the efficiency of your unit, meaning you’ll need to bleed them.

Bleeding radiators is a simple job, and takes next to no time. All you need is a radiator key, which you can buy from any hardware store for a around a £1.

When your system’s off, open the radiator valve. Be sure to have a cloth to hand as some vapour and water could vent. Once the hissing stops the radiator’s been bled and you can tighten up the valve.

Can you bleed a radiator when the heating is on?

Never bleed a radiator when the heating’s on as the radiator could be too hot to touch. Also, any spray from the open vent could scald you.

 

7. Consider an electric blanket or fleeced hoodie

There’s a lot to be said for wrapping up warm. Don’t be a style diva behind closed doors. Get out that cosy jumper, or buy a heavy fleece onesie.

You could also opt for a portable electric blanket or even a hot water bottle. In short, dress for the season rather than rely on the central heating.

 

8. Don’t block radiators

Even if you‘ve a lack of space, it’s never a good idea to put furniture in front of a radiator. Likewise, avoid having curtains that cover or overlap the top of your radiators. Heat rises, so you won't get any benefit.

Also, think twice before opting for a radiator cover. They may look smart, but they block heat that could be warming the room.

 

9. Consider portable electric radiators

Portable electric radiators are expensive to run. Each unit of energy produced by a portable radiator costs 3 times more than with your central heating.

But don’t dismiss them if you tend to use 1 room for most of the time. In this case, it could be worth flicking on a portable radiator to take the edge off the cold, rather than fire up the central heating.

Oil portable heaters are a cost-effective alternative to portable electric heaters. They cost a little more but the oil retains its heat, unlike the electric radiators, which cool almost immediately.

 

10. Turn down your thermostat

The ideal temperature of your thermostat is between 18°C and 21°C. 

Turning your thermostat down by just 1 degree could save you money - and you might not even feel the difference!

 

11. Invest in a heated clothes airer

Rather than block your radiators, and turn on the heating just to dry clothes, you could buy a heated clothes airer for around £50. These options look like standard clothes horses, and are electricity-powered, heating the rails at a cost of just 4p an hour.

 

12. Consider a smart gas meter

A smart meter displays your real-time energy consumption and an accurate cost, so you don’t pay more than you need to. This makes it easier to keep track on what you’re spending on your heating and is a useful reminder to be as frugal as possible.

Around 40% of homes have a smart meter, and the government has pledged to offer 1 to all UK homes by 2025.

 

Is it best to keep the heating on all the time?

No. It’s a myth that keeping the heating on all the time is cheaper than firing up the system a couple of times a day. Keep the thermostat down, and tinker with the number of hours you have the heating on until you find a happy medium.

 

How many hours a day should the heating be on?

How much energy you draw on for heating depends on many factors, including your lifestyle, age, health and how well insulated your home is.

No-one wants to be living in arctic conditions any more than they want to pay more for heating than needed. As such, it makes sense to play around with the thermostat, nudging it down a degree or 2 and cutting the length of time it’s on where possible.

 

Can I switch to a new supplier if my heating bill is too high?

The current advice is to keep with your present UK energy supplier, as there are very few, if any deals around. Your best bet may be to register for energy tariff updates through our Get Switch Ready service, so you can pounce when any emerge.

 

If you’re struggling with heating bills…

The UK cost-of-living crisis is affecting everyone, meaning a lot of us are having to juggle our finances right now. If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, contact your energy company and explain the situation, they should be able to help.

For more on what to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills visit Citizens Advice and Ofgem.