Now that winter is here, your energy bills can start to get expensive as you turn the heat up to cope with the cold weather.
We’ve put together a few tips on how to keep your energy bills down, from little changes you can make now to home improvements:
Cheap and quick energy saving tips
1. Put in heavy curtains or, if you already have some, just remember to keep them closed at night.
A lot of heat is lost through your windows, so curtains with a lining can help to keep your rooms insulated. You should keep any curtains or blinds open during the hours when it’s light outside, as the sunlight can help to warm your house.
Cost: free if you already have some good quality curtains, or add curtain liners for £25.
2. Quickly insulate your rooms with a window insulating kit.
If you have single pane windows or air blowing in through the gaps in the framework, a quick-fix is to plug them up with special window insulating sheets. It’s just a piece of film that sticks to your window to make them air tight, so you’ll lose less heat through them. One downside – you can’t open windows when the film is installed, so don’t put it on any windows that you need to open a lot, such as in the kitchen or bathroom.
Cost: a pack for five windows for £23.
3. Stop heat escaping from under your doors with draught excluders.
For doors that have a gap under them, draught excluders can make a real difference in helping to keep a room warm. You can save energy as you won’t have to put the radiator on as high as you’ll be keeping more heat inside.
Cost: you can buy a pre-made draught excluder for around £16, or if you’re a bit craftier, make your own from one leg of an old pair of jeans and fill it with toy stuffing for £3.
4. Turn down the thermostat by just one or two degrees.
Your rooms should be between 18ºC and 21ºC, so if they’re just slightly over this, you could save money by turning the thermostat down slightly. You probably won’t even notice such a tiny difference in temperature, but it could save you around £75 a year.
5. Close doors and windows to keep the heat in.
If you’re only going to be staying in one or two rooms in your house, you might only have the radiators on in those rooms. Leaving doors or windows open means that heat can escape into the rest of your house, so it could cost you more to keep your property warm. By keeping doors closed when you’re not using them, you could save as you’ll need less energy to heat the room up.
6. Wear more layers in the house if you’re feeling really cold.
Whilst it may not actually save energy, you may use less if you’re staying toasty by wearing an extra pair of fluffy socks and a hoodie. It’s also a more effective way to stay warm, as you’re keeping the heat in your body rather than trying to heat up your surroundings.
7. Install energy efficient light bulbs in your home.
With the longer nights in the winter, you may have to keep your lights on more just to be able to see in the evenings. This means your energy bills could be higher, so you might want to think about replacing some or all of your light bulbs with energy saving ones.
Cost: while energy efficient light bulbs may not be cheap – they can cost between £5 and £10 per bulb – you can save more than £180 on your energy bills for each bulb over an average 25-year lifespan.
8. Bleed your radiators if they’re not working properly to improve their efficiency.
If the top of your radiator feels cold when it’s switched on, it may have air trapped in it. This means it’s not heating your room up properly, so you’ll have to use more energy to maintain the temperature. You can easily bleed the radiator yourself to get rid of the trapped air, but make sure you read an online guide first so you know what you’re doing.
9. Consider switching energy providers to get a better deal.
You may not use less energy by moving to a different provider but it could cost you less: the average saving for people switching is £191 a year.
More labour intensive and investment tips
10. Insulate your cavity walls to make your property more energy efficient.
If your home was built between 1920 and 1990, it may have cavity walls with no insulation, which could mean you’ll lose heat through the walls. Getting insulation installed could mean that your home will retain heat better, so you won’t have to use as much energy.
Cost: it can be expensive to get your cavity walls insulated, with prices ranging from between £330 to £720 depending on your property type. However, you should see this as an investment, as it should pay you back through savings on your energy bills in five years.
11. Get your loft insulated so you won’t lose rising heat.
When you’re trying to keep your home warm, heat will rise, so if you don’t have any insulation in your loft, you could end up spending more than you need to on energy. Installing at least 270mm of insulation in your loft can keep your home warmer to help you save on your bills.
Cost: it could cost between £285 and £395 for a full loft insulation, and you could save between £140 and £250 a year on your bills.
12. Replace your single glazed windows with double glazing.
In older houses, windows may still be single glazed, which are less effective at keeping heat in your home, as well as letting noise in from outside. You could reduce the draughts by upgrading all of your windows to double glazing.
Cost: around £300 per window, so if you have 10 windows, this works out at £3,000 for your property. You can save between £80 and £120 every year by upgrading so depending on the size of your house, it could be a few years before you make back the cost of your investment.
If you don’t want to foot the bill yourself for any of these more expensive energy saving improvements, you could try and see if the cost can be covered by the Green Deal Home Improvements Fund. The most recent allocation of money was claimed in a day, but there’s another round planned for February. If you’re interested in applying, get yourself a Green Deal Advice Report for around £120 or a recent Energy Performance Certificate. It’s best to get this now, as you’ll need it if you’re looking to apply in February.
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By Emily Bancroft