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How to save on heating this winter

Our recent research shows that winter this year is set to cost homeowners a whopping £13 billion. That’s £48 more per household compared to the same period last year.

Radiator on peach wall

To make matters worse, one in five Brits has admitted to feeling confused about the most efficient way to use their heating.

But never fear, our handy guide can bring some clarity and help you stay toasty this winter without breaking the bank.

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How many times a day should you put your heating on and when?

We found that half of Brits want their heating on for longer than they actually put it on during winter. 78% say the main reason why they can’t is money.

We also discovered nearly one in five households (17%) have their heating on for more than 12 hours a day. Here are our top tips on bringing your heating use down, depending on your own situation.

How does the temperature effect how much you spend on heating? Check out our winter costing tool to find out


If you’re often at home (self employed, maternity leave, unemployed):

Some people think that keeping the heating on at a low temperature and for a long period is the way to reduce costs.

However, Mark Ronald, Lead Engineer at Hometree reveals that this idea is simply a myth.

Instead, the best way to save energy is actually to only turn on the central heating as and when you need it - and not leaving it on when you don’t.

Another tip is to turn the heating on every other hour. This lets you regulate the temperature  but cut the hours down by half compared to if you had the heating on all the time. 


If you’re away during the day but at home every night (9 to 5 worker):

If you are out of the house during the day, we suggest setting the heating to come on only when you are actually in the house.

You might want to set the heating to switch on half an hour before your morning alarm goes off, and to turn it off half an hour before you leave in the morning.

The heating does not need to be on the highest heat when you’re leaving the house, so it’s worth timing it to turn off and start cooling down just before you leave. 

You could also set the heating to turn on half an hour before you get home. You’ll then come back to a toasty house without having to use energy throughout the entire day.

Also, it’s worth timing the heating to switch off again before you go to sleep.

The house should still be warm for a while, but be sure to wrap up warm in bed with blankets as night time is when the temperature really drops.


If your routine changes, working day or nights (shift worker): 

If you have no regular routine or there are long shifts when you can’t predict when you’ll be home, think about a smart heating system.

These let you control the heating remotely so the house can be ready and warm for the time you eventually get home.

If you don’t have a smart heater, it’s worth getting into the habit of manually turning the heating on and off as and when you need – but be careful not to turn it up too much.


If you’re away from home for long periods (second home owners): 

If you’re away for the weekend or you own a second home, turn the thermostat down and set the heating to only come on when temperatures hit single figures.

This way, you’ll avoid frozen pipes but you’ll also stop unnecessary heating costs.


What temperature should you set your thermostat?

A paper published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change says you should turn down the thermostat from 20°C to 18°C to save energy.

In fact, the Energy Saving Trust claims that turning the thermostat down by just 1 degree could reduce costs by up to £80.

Mark Ronald, Lead Engineer at Hometree advised:

“Many people still believe the myth that keeping your home warm for longer periods involves switching your thermostat all the way up. Turning your heating all the way up will waste a lot of energy and increase your spending.

“By scheduling your heating to come on at specific times using a programmable or smart thermostat, you’ll make a saving on your energy bills in the long run.”


What is a smart thermostat and should you get one? 

Even if you have lowered the house’s temperature to 18°C, all the rooms don’t have to be this temperature.

Installing a smart thermostat, also known as a Hive, could help save the pounds as it only heats the rooms you are actually using. 

Smart thermostats let you see exactly how much heating you're using and how much it’s costing you.

They connect your heating system to the internet, so you can change the temperature or switch your heating off with your smartphone when you're out and about.

Plus, unlike smart meters, you can install smart thermostats yourself. So it doesn't matter who provides your energy.


No need to compromise elsewhere: winter warmth tips 

Keeping warm in winter shouldn’t mean you need to make compromises in other parts of your life.

But large numbers of people in the UK give up buying new clothes (19%) or treats to eat and drink (17%) or even cut down on transport (8%) to help cover the extra costs. 

Having insulation is one big step you can take towards heating your home efficiently.

Insulation means you don’t lose as much heat, so you spend less on bills. But there are a few quick tips that help reduce your bill if you can’t do anything about insulation.


Bleed radiators

Be prepared for the cold and bleed your radiators before the winter so they give out as much heat as possible.

Trapped air creates cold spots in your radiators, making them less efficient over time. You can bleed your radiators yourself quite easily:

  • Make sure the heating is on
  • Once your radiators are hot, touch each one to see if all parts of the radiator are warm
  • Switch off your central heating
  • Attach your radiator key to the square bit in the centre of your radiator's valve
  • Slowly turn the radiator key anti-clockwise. If air is escaping you’ll hear a hissing sound. Once all the air has gone, liquid will start coming out and you’ll need to close the valve quickly. That’s it, the air pockets have now gone.


Draw your curtains

If the house gets a bit too chilly for you, close your curtains to keep the heat in. You could think about investing in thermal curtains for the winter months. They don’t tend to be too expensive.

Or, if you don’t want to replace your current curtains, you can just buy the thermal lining and attach it to your existing drapes. Just doing this could reduce heat loss by up to 25%.


Don’t block radiators

It’s always tempting to use radiators to dry clothes or make them warm before getting dressed.

However, if you cover a radiator you lower the amount of heat it can give out, so the boiler has to run for longer to get the room to the same temperature.

That’s why you should also try not to put furniture in front of your radiators.


Use other heat sources

If you’ve been cooking and the oven is nice and warm, turn the oven off, but leave the door open.

It may be a temporary source of heat but if the oven is already heated up, it’s definitely worth doing. Just make sure the children and pets aren’t in the kitchen!

Lighting candles warms up a room too.


Embrace the Nordic lifestyle

‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that means a mood of happy cosiness and comfort.

It’s really on trend at the moment and is a great way to help keep you warm in the colder months without pushing your heating bills up.

To go ‘hygge’, you might wear thick, warm clothes, pile on comfortable blankets and make hot beverages and soups to warm you inside.