How do you save money on heating bills in winter?

8 minute read

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Managing your energy bills is becoming much more difficult as energy prices spike, but there are ways to reduce your spending.

  • Energy prices are rising and people are worrying about their bills
  • Insulating your home could pay dividends
  • But there are also low-cost hacks to make your money go further

Wholesale energy prices are increasing – leaving providers with little choice but to pass the costs onto their customers. As your energy bill increases, is there another way to keep costs down this winter? 

A number of different causes in the supply and demand of energy could lead to an average household hit of £467 next year, according to data from National Energy Action. But the rises have started already, causing concern for families facing fuel poverty as the temperature drops.

How to save money on your heating bills

How to keep the house warm in winter

Two of the most effective ways to heat your whole home for a warm winter are home insulation and an energy-efficient boiler.

Most boilers installed in homes since 2005 are a newer type of condensing boilers. They lose less heat than older boilers as they recover more heat from the flue – the pipe carrying exhaust gases outside the home. Older boilers aren’t as good at keeping that heat.

Roughly one third of the heat lost in a home without insulation goes through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is a special kind of foam filling placed between the inner and outer walls of your home. It traps the heat which would otherwise escape from your home, helping you keep warm at a lower cost. 

Although you can expect to make back the cost of installing home insulation within a few years, the initial outlay can still be in the hundreds of pounds – while a new gas boiler can cost £2,500

If these costly solutions are too much for your budget right now, there are other, cheaper ways to save money on heating your home.

How to keep a poorly insulated house warm

Heat escaping the home is one reason why your heating might be working overtime – and bringing costly bills with it. If somewhere in your home feels particularly draughty, it’s a prime spot for heat to escape.

  • Place draft excluders under doors where the cold seems to get in from outside.
  • Chimneys are mostly just decorative these days, but you may be losing heat up them. Install a chimney balloon to block it from extracting warmth.
  • Keyhole covers and letterbox draught excluders are simple front-door installations which can make your entrance hall feel cosier instantly.
  • Got a cat flap in your front door? Coat it with sheep’s wool insulation, or bits of blanket at a push.
  • Loft insulation might be beyond your budget but putting self-adhesive insulation strips on your loft hatch can reduce the amount of air that escapes your home.

How to insulate your house

One clever way to save money on heating bills involves your windows. Double glazing is an expensive job. But making the most of the daylight hours and preventing heat loss through windows is a relatively simple and inexpensive job.

  • There’s a transparent insulating film for windows which traps a layer of air between the glass and film. It’s easy to apply and lasts the whole winter.
  • A thick pair of curtains helps to keep the warmth from escaping your home through the windows…
  • …however, during the day, it’s best to leave them open so your home can bring in more of the sun’s heat.

How to make a room warmer

Little touches around the home can make improvements in different rooms. So, if you’ve got a favourite spot that you want to stay cosy all year round – or if you live in a flat or smaller abode – try these top tricks:

  • Bare floorboards can cause a lot of heat to escape. Put some filler between the boards and lay down rugs or blankets to prevent heat loss.
  • Heat reflective tin foil behind the radiators can stop heat escaping through the wall and reflect it back into the room.
  • Direct more heat back into the room by installing a shelf above your radiators. This stops the warm air from rising away.
  • Move any furniture which may be blocking your radiators. This allows the warm air to travel more throughout the room.
  • Keep the door closed. Add to the cosy feel and keep air in by closing the door. Otherwise, the heat you let out dissipates around the home.

How to save money on energy bills

Alongside some minor improvements you can make around the home to save on heating bills, some small habit changes could see you saving on your other bills like water and electricity. Try these tips and see how much you could save:

  • Not in use? Turn it off. Whether it’s the lights in your home, or devices on standby rather than switched off, turning off something when it’s not in use can save you money in the long-run.
  • Take shorter showers. Be mindful of the amount of time you’re spending in the shower, and try to shave off a minute or two. One minute less each time could save you £7 per person, per year on water bills.
  • Turn down your thermostat. If you’re feeling the benefit of those winter warming hacks, your wallet could benefit too with a slight reduction on the thermostat. Just one degree down could save you £80 a year.
  • Get a smart meter. Energy providers are helping customers by supplying free smart meters. You can monitor household usage of your gas and electricity if you get them with the same supplier. You can then tweak your energy use accordingly to save money in real time.
  • Pay your bills by Direct Debit. Paying regularly per month on your bills tends to be cheaper than paying a bill in full when it arrives through your (draft-excluded) letterbox.

Frequently asked questions

Is it cheaper to leave heating on all day?

Common sense says you should only have the heating on for periods when you're home. However, there’s an argument that a boiler firing on and off throughout the day can cause condensation to collect within the walls. This makes it more difficult to retain heat within the home and could mean you’re wasting money on heating.

Should I leave the heating on when away?

If you’re heading on holiday during the winter, you should leave the heating on at a bare minimum. This will prevent pipes freezing over in your home, which can cause a lot of damage and expenses to repair. However, if you’re popping out for the day, it doesn’t make sense to heat an empty house.

How much heat is lost through the roof? 

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that 25% of your home’s heat is lost through the roof. Roof insulation can help you keep more heat in the home, but like cavity wall insulation or double glazing, this can be an expensive job.

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