November 29, 2023

15 effective ways to cut the cost of heating your home

9 min read
15 effective ways to cut the cost of heating your home

With energy bills going up but the cold weather expected to stay for a while yet many of us are struggling to justify to ourselves the need to turn the radiators on.

When it feels just as cold inside your home as it does outside there’s nothing you want more than to put the heating on and curl up and relax – but comfort sadly comes at a price.

Earlier this month Ofgem, the government regulator for the electricity and gas markets, announced that the average gas and electricity bill in the UK could increase a whopping £693 a year.

Read more:‘We have to manage, there’s no rainy day money’ Residents forced to live in ‘freezing’ flats with rising energy bills now face rent hike

Around 22m households are expected to be affected by the increase which comes into force from April 1 when the price cap on energy bills will be updated for the next six months.

We’ve read expert advice and energy company guidance and collated 15 ways you can cut the cost of heating your home.

Got another tip that we haven’t thought of? Share with other readers in the comments.

1. Update your boiler and heating controls

15 effective ways to cut the cost of heating your home
Updating your boiler or its controls is Which’s top tip to save money on the heating bills

Consumer information company Which says updating your boiler and its heating controls can be the most effective way to cut the cost of heating your home.

If you’re in a financial position to be able to buy a new boiler to replace your old one then that can be beneficial as using an old boiler can cost more to run than new ones.

But if you’re not able to splash out on a new boiler spending a few bob on some new heating controls could really work in your favour.

Quoting the Energy Saving Trust Which explains: “Newer heating controls are much more accurate. Based on a typical three-bed semi-detached house, there is a potential saving of £75 a year by installing a thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves.”

Whilst the type of heating control you need will vary depending on your home and the type of heating system you have.

Consider adding a timer to your boiler to turn it on or off at set times and help keep your energy bills down by stopping its unnecessary use.

Alternatively you could use a programmer to set different times and temperatures for different days of the week instead of keeping the heating on constantly.

You could also use a “weather-compensating thermostat” or a “load-compensating thermostat” which adjusts the boiler’s settings based on the outside or inside temperature respectively.

Or you could use a room thermostat to measure how warm your room is naturally and adjust the boiler accordingly, a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) that allows you to adjust the temperature of individual radiators and turn them off completely so you only need to keep the radiator on in the room you’re in, or a smart thermostat heating system where you can control your heating via an app.

Some of the most popular heating system apps include Google Nest and British Gas’ Hive. According to British Gas using a smarter heating system could save you up to £110 a year if you have higher than average energy use.

2. Cover the areas that can cause heat to escape from your home

According to American heating, air, and oil company SMO Energy up to 25% of your home’s heat can be lost through “small openings” while other areas of your home can cause further heat to escape.

With this in mind you should consider covering any windows, doors, fireplaces, and even power outlets that seem to be letting a draft in and invest in insulation in your roof and walls if you can.

3. Stick tin foil behind the radiators

This top tip comes from the MoneyMagpie money-saving website. They say sticking tin foil behind your radiators will help them heat rooms more efficiently and allow you to turn the radiators down a bit.

It works by reflecting heat back into the room rather than letting it escape through the walls. You can use normal kitchen foil or specially-designed “radiator foil”.

4. Close off unused rooms

Another tip from SMO Energy is that if you have any extra rooms in your home that you don’t use often then keep the door to them closed and use a towel or draft excluder under the door to keep the heat in the rest of the house.

And make sure any radiators or other heaters in rooms you’re not using, such as a spare bedroom, are completely switched off to make sure you’re not wasting excess heat.

5. Only heat the room you’re in

Sounds obvious but how many times do we just turn the heating on somewhere and walk away?

It would be more effective to only turn on specific radiators in the room we’re in to avoid wasting money heating rooms that don’t need to be warm, reports Uswitch. That said if you have storage heaters, a gas fire, or a smaller home it may not be worth just heating an individual room.

6. Turn the heating down even if only by a degree or two

Turning the thermostat down, even by a degree or two, can help you save money over time
Turning the thermostat down, even by a degree or two, can help you save money over time

Adjusting your heating, even slightly, can help decrease your heating bills. SMO Energy reports that lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees could help you save up to 10% on your heating bill each year.

We think 10 degrees is an awful lot but even turning your heating down by one degree could help knock some money off your bills.

Culture South West, a home and interior blog, says: “One degree is so small, you won’t even notice it’s mildly cooler in the house, but you’ll notice the extra £40 a year you could save.”

6. Move your furniture around

While we usually associate moving our furniture around as a way of updating or changing the look of our lounge, dining room, or bedroom there can be cost-saving benefits too.

Check whether any of your sofas, chairs, beds, or bookshelves are covering radiators or other heaters in your room. If they are consider moving the offending furniture to a different space in the room to allow the heat to circulate the room better.

7. Clean your radiators

Which explains: “Making sure that your system water (the water that lives in your pipes and radiators) is clean and free of sludge will mean that your heating system is more efficient. It’s also good for the ongoing life of your boiler and central heating system.

“A clear sign that your system may be overly sludgy is if you have cold spots at the bottom on your radiators, or if some of your radiators take an age to heat up compared with others.

“Which? has seen research carried out by Enertek International (an independent company offering innovative services to the gas, oil and renewable heating industry) that suggests a heavily sludged heating system can increase your bills by as much as 25%.

“If you’re getting a new boiler, a clean system is also essential to validate the manufacturer’s warranty on your new boiler.”

You can check how clean your system water is by “bleeding” a little water from your radiator valve into a container.

If the water is dirty you should drain the water in your radiator system and replace it with new, clean water. This is known as a “gravity flush”.

Or you can invest in a “chemical flush” or “power flush”. While pricey (Which says the average cost of a power flush for a five-radiator system is £481) cleaner water in the radiator system should help your heating become more efficient, saving you money in the long run.

8. Buy thermal curtains – or have a look in your nearest charity shop for them

Thermal curtains can really help heat loss as can adding “thermal curtain lining” to your existing curtains. If you don’t want to splash out on brand new thermal curtains or thermal lining have a scout in your local charity shops – to help you save money twice.

9. Do not put your wet laundry on the radiators

We all do it. We think putting our damp laundry on the radiator to dry will be more energy efficient (and therefore cheaper) than putting a load in the tumble dryer but covering a radiator means the heat can’t travel around the room like you want it too.

Sure, your underwear will be warm – but your bedroom will be freezing.

Instead money-saving site Money Magpie recommends buying a heated clothes airer to dry your clothes – or you could air them on a normal airer for a longer amount of time of course.

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10. Insulate your loft or attic space

Adding insulation to your loft can help stop heat escaping into the loft - keeping it in the rooms you actually use
Adding insulation to your loft can help stop heat escaping into the loft and keep it in the rooms you actually use

If you’re home isn’t properly insulated then heat will escape through walls and loft space.

While loft insulation can be a very expensive purchase in the long run it should help you keep your energy bills down as less heat will be rising up to the loft and escaping your home.

11. Switch your energy supplier

Checking what deals you can get on your energy bills and whether it would be cheaper to switch supplier may be time-consuming and a bit boring but can ultimately save you heaps.

Changing supplier doesn’t always mean a cheaper rate but it’s certainly worth a look.

12. Install a smart meter

Smart meters have been designed to give you a more accurate reading for how much energy you’re using and you can track how much you’re spending in real time.

Install a smart meter and be proactive with it – read the meter regularly and notice when your spending increases then think about what you’ve used energy on and whether you could decrease it or change your behaviour next time.

Plus as MoneySavingExpert explains: “As your meters send your usage directly to your supplier you should only pay for what you use.

“With a standard meter you’re often charged monthly based on estimated use and you send in a meter reading every few months to get an exact bill.”

13. Put clingfilm on your windows

This quirky tip comes from home and interior design blog Culture South West. They say that putting clingfilm over your windows “works by trapping a layer of air which prevents heat escaping”.

It’s not a long-term measure but can help keep rooms warm temporarily.

14. Put carpets and rugs down

Carpets can be a very effective way of insulating your home – and the more insulated your home the less energy you need to keep your property warm.

Carpeting rooms you spend lots of time in, or simply putting a thick rug on the flooring – can help keep heat in a room.

15. Put more layers on

Putting on extra layers, for example a jumper, hoody, cardigan or dressing gown, can help you stay warm at home
Putting on extra layers can help you stay warm at home

Finally is perhaps the most obvious tip but still something that it’s easy to forget. Putting extra layers on can help you keep warm without turning your heating up high.

When you’re relaxing at home and you get a bit cold put a jumper on or your warmest pyjamas or a dressing gown to help you warm up.

If you’re still cold then, of course, put the heating on but hopefully you won’t need to put it on as high as usual if you’re layered up with warm clothing.

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