After a challenging year you may be worried about the cost of your heating bill this winter. Here are 10 cost-effective ways to winter-proof your home:
1. Close all your curtains (and line them too)
If you live in a house that doesn’t have double-glazed windows you can still keep the heat inside by closing your curtains, blinds or shutters when the sun goes down.
If you have curtains, the thicker they are, the better. You could even line your curtains with a cheap, thick material during the winter to make them more effective. But keep your curtains, blinds or shutters open during the day, as the sun shining through your windows will help keep the room warm.
2. Turn off the heating and shut the doors in rooms you don't use
Don’t waste energy heating rooms you’re not using. Where possible, turn off the radiators in rooms that aren’t in use. But make sure you keep the doors shut too, so that the heat from the rooms you’re using doesn’t escape.
3. Stop draughts under doors
Deal with draughts under your doors by using draught excluders. Here are some instructions on how to make a draught excluder from the National Trust.
4. Seal gaps around doors frames and windows
Cracks and gaps around doors and windows can also leak heat, so seal these up using inexpensive insulating strips or even pieces of blanket. Look out for uncovered keyholes, letterboxes and cat flaps, which can also let in cold draughts, and keep these covered too. If you have any unused fireplaces, make sure the flue is closed or consider investing in a chimney balloon (from around £20 online).
Don't cover air vents, as you may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if they become blocked. Stay safe by getting a carbon monoxide alarm for each room that has a gas appliance.
5. Seal gaps in the floor and skirting boards
According to the National Energy Foundation, floors are responsible for up to 10 percent of the heat loss in homes where there’s no flooring insulation. Check your floors for gaps and cracks and seal them up with a silicone-based filler..
If you have wooden floorboards without carpets, consider covering them up, at least when it’s very cold, to save more heat. Use rugs or even blankets to keep in the warmth.
6. Reflect radiator heat (especially on external walls)
If you have radiators on external walls, line them with aluminium foil to reflect the heat back into the room instead of letting it escape through the wall. You can use ordinary kitchen foil, but heat reflector aluminium foil sheets are far more effective and cost from around £8.
You can make your radiators more efficient by:
- Bleeding them regularly
- Putting a shelf above them to channel heat into the room instead of up towards the ceiling
- Making sure there isn’t any furniture in front of them that might be absorbing heat
7. Insulate hot water tanks and pipes
Keep your water hot by insulating your hot water tank and pipes. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a British Standard hot water tank jacket costs around £15 but could save you up to £35 a year in energy costs by keeping your water hot for longer.
Primary pipe insulation – which consists of foam tubes covering the pipes between your hot water cylinder and boiler – will cost, on average, £20.
8. Regulate your heating with a thermostat
Use a thermostat on a timer to control the temperature of your home. Your thermostat should be set to the lowest comfortable temperature, typically 18 to 21 degrees. When it’s very cold, set your timer to switch the heating on earlier, rather than turning the thermostat up to warm your house quickly. And if you have individual thermostats on your radiators, they can help keep the rooms you’re using at the right temperature.
9. Insulate your walls and loft
Experts believe around half of the heat in the typical home is lost through the walls and loft. If you don’t have loft or cavity wall insulation, you can find out more about insulating your home and saving energy on the Energy Saving Trust website. If you're in based in England, see if you qualify for the government's Green Homes Grant scheme.
10. Upgrade your boiler
Upgrading an ageing boiler can have a huge impact on your heating bills after the upfront cost. If your boiler is more than six years old (and certainly if 10 or 15 years old) it will be worth replacing it with a modern condensing boiler. These boilers can have efficiencies of around 95% while older boilers are typically 60–70% efficient. It's important to get your boiler serviced regularly by a registered engineer.
Discover more ways to spend less money on fuel bills and take care of the environment at the same time by reading our article Green ways to save cash.
Winter fuel payments from CABA
If you're a past or present ICAEW member or ACA student and receive income related benefits you could be eligiible for CABA's winter fuel payment of £225.