As the nights draw in, and with many of us spending more time indoors, you may be thinking about how to make your house warmer this winter.
60% of the UK adult working population is currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Finder.com. And although home workers are saving an average of £44 a week, costs could soon increase once winter - and its energy bills - arrive.
In this guide, we share some home energy saving tips with ideas to keep you cosy throughout the colder months. We understand that you might not want to invest in expensive renovations right now, which is why most of our solutions are surprisingly low-cost.
Read on to discover how to save heat energy in your home. And how to save money, too.
Draughts are a primary cause of lost heat. Blocking the flow of cold air is one of the cheapest ways to save energy in a house.
All you need to do is seal the areas where you can feel a draught.
This can be achieved by installing weatherstrips. You can buy these from most DIY stores and online suppliers. They are easy to use but online help is available, such as Wikihow’s ‘How to Install Weather Stripping’ guide.
For the bottom of your doors, you may want to buy draught excluders, too. There are lots of different designs available - including ones with beautiful patterns or in novelty shapes. This purchase can upgrade your interiors as well as keeping you warm.
You want to ensure that your radiators are working properly when you use them.
Radiators need bleeding to remove trapped air that stops the water from circulating properly. This can make your radiator feel cold at the top but warm at the bottom, which reduces their efficiency and can increase your bills.
Another sign of trapped air is noisy radiators. So, if you hear your radiator gurgling, banging or clanking, it’s time to bleed it.
It’s recommended that you bleed your radiators once a year even if they seem to be working fine.
To find out more about how to bleed radiators, and why it’s important, visit this step-by-step guide from SSE.
One no-investment home energy saving tip is to turn off heating in the rooms you are not using.
How this works will depend on your heating set-up. If you have a smart thermostat, you may be able to adjust the temperature of individual areas of your home with an app. With an older central heating system, you may need to manually turn off radiators.
If you are working from home, it’s likely you will only need the heating on in a couple of rooms. So don’t waste your money - and energy - heating up empty spaces.
If you do have a smart thermostat controlling your home’s temperature, you only need to do this if the room is staying out of use (or if you’re prepared to wear extra layers when you go in). This is because thermostats ensure your heating is at a constant temperature. They will automatically turn off once the desired temperature is reached, and turn back on when it lowers. As raising the temperature from cold uses a lot of energy, there is little point letting your living room drop in the daytime if you’ll need to increase the heating to make it toasty by the evening.
It’s also important that you combine this tip with draught excluders. You don’t want cold air to creep out of the unused (and unheated) rooms.
Having an open fire in the winter is great for keeping warm. But it’s not so great when it’s not lit.
An open fireplace sucks heat up and out of the home. A huge 80 cubic metres of air per hour travels up the chimney, according to Chimney Balloon®.
One simple way of preventing heat from leaving via your fireplace when it’s not lit is to use chimney balloons. For more advice on how to use these, visit The Greenage’s guide on draught-proofing chimneys.
Of course, if your fireplace is not used at all, you may want to get it permanently covered but this will be a longer-term investment.
Drawing your curtains when there is no sun can help retain heat - especially in older homes without double glazing.
But don’t keep them closed all day. To be energy efficient, you also want to let the sunlight naturally (and freely) heat up your home - especially if you have south-facing windows. So, remember to draw your curtains when it’s sunny even if you’re not using those rooms.
Try experimenting with different temperatures on your thermostat. You may be setting it higher than it needs to be, which can leave you uncomfortable and stuffy rather than warm and cosy. If you have a smart meter, you can compare how much energy you’re saving by simply adjusting by a degree or two.
You could also try setting your thermostat at a standard setback temperature rather than turning off your heating completely when you go out. This may seem counterintuitive but turning heating off can lead people to overheat their home when they return. As we mentioned earlier, a constant lower level of heat is usually more energy-efficient than a sudden temperature increase.
These last two tips are more costly. However, they could be worth considering as a long-term investment.
If your boiler is reaching the grand old age of 15, it’s time to consider replacing it, according to Viessmann’s advice.
Although it is expensive up-front, upgrading to a modern boiler can save a lot of money long-term as they run far more efficiently.
Another long-term investment is to insulate your loft and walls, which can save a lot of heat from being wasted.
A quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof, according to Energy Saving Trust. Insulating your roof and walls will reduce heating loss, as well as your regular energy costs.
Insulation can also increase your property’s value.
To find out more about roof and wall insulation, visit Ovo Energy’s ultimate guide.
If you do decide to invest in a higher cost option to winter-proof your home, remember to see if you’re eligible for a government grant first.
The new government Green Homes Grant scheme allows homeowners in England to claim up to £10,000 in vouchers to cover the costs of a variety of energy efficiency improvements. There are separate schemes for boilers and loft and cavity wall insulation specifically, too.
For more information on government-funded ways to save energy in a house, visit Money Saving Expert’s guide to insulation and boiler grants.