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How to save money on your heating bills

  • 4, Feb 2022
  • Read time: 17 mins

Lots of people are feeling the pinch of rising energy prices. In 2021, average annual energy bills jumped 6% on the previous year to £1,339. Many of us are simply spending more time at home in this post-pandemic world, which means we are likely to have our heating on more – leading to extra costs. So, finding new ways to save money on heating bills has become something of a hot topic.

From simple tips like draft excluders to fitting cavity wall installations, in this guide we’ll show you the options to help keep your monthly outgoings as low as possible and tackle those spiralling energy costs.

We all crave the comfort of a warm home and a hot bath or shower, but rising costs of central heating are becoming a difficult pill to swallow.

So, here are some suggestions to keep your heating bills under control, plus cut down the carbon footprint of your home.

Insulate your loft

It's estimated that up to a quarter of your home’s heat escapes through roofs which haven't been insulated.

The good news is that insulating your loft is a relatively low-cost job that you could do yourself. Laying loft insulation blankets could save you mo on your heating bills and will help to cut your carbon dioxide emissions too.

To insulate your loft:

  • You’ll need to clear the loft of all stored items so that you have freedom to work properly
  • Use adequate lighting so that you can see exactly what you’re doing so there’s less chance of having an accident such as putting your foot through the ceiling
  • Most insulation rolls come pre-cut at 1140mm with perforated edges so they can easily be cut further.
  • All tanks and pipes will need to be insulated before you insulate the loft. Don’t fit insulation rolls under a water tank unless it is in a raised position
  • Ensure you have loft ventilation or ventilation gaps in the eaves in the loft before starting work. Make sure these are maintained
  • Don’t fit insulation rolls over electrical wiring as these should be attached to roof joists.

Fill wall cavities 

Filling the cavity in your wall is an excellent way to reduce your heating bills.

This will significantly improve the in-house climate by spreading the domestic heating more evenly.

Installing cavity wall installation is a job best left to the registered installers who can usually complete the task in 2-4 hours. A specialist company will drill holes into your walls to inject the insulation externally.

Get rid of any draughts

Draughts are also a significant cause of heat loss in a typical home through walls, windows and doors.

Putting in draught proofing materials is simple. To avoid your money quite literally flying out the window, make sure that all doors and windows are properly sealed. Use self-adhesive strips for doors and windows and fit brushes to doors and letterboxes.

Here’s a checklist of the jobs you’ll need to do get rid of draughts:

  • Don’t block any extractor fans as these remove moisture from rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • Don’t block air bricks or floor grilles as these allow your structure to breathe and prevent rotting
  • Ensure rooms with open fires have plenty of ventilation
  • Use draught prevention foam strips around windows
  • For doors, buy a key latch cover
  • Measure and use a letterbox flap to exclude draughts
  • Fit draught brush strips to the bottoms of doors
  • If you don’t use your chimney fit a draught excluder internally (make a note to remove if ever you decide to use the fireplace)
  • Use a flexible filling agent to seal between floorboards, or where floorboards meet the skirting
  • Fit a ventilation strip around your loft hatch as warm air rises and will seek any opening to escape.

Buy a jacket

You shouldn’t sit around at home in a warm coat, but your water cylinder should. By fitting a ‘jacket’ at least 75mm thick you could reduce heat loss from the tank.

A hot water cylinder insulation jacket has a plastic cover filled with recycled fibre glass material. It’s a relatively straightforward job that includes:

  • Ensuring there is a British Standard Safety Kitemark and that the jacket is 75mm thick
  • Measuring the tank to get the right fit before buying the jacket
  • Turning off the water tank and before you start working it should be cool to the touch
  • Labelling important information from the water tank and placing this on the jacket for easy access
  • Tying the jacket with cord but leaving space for easy access to controls.

Drop the temperature 

If you drop the room thermostat by just 1 degree, it’s highly unlikely that you feel the difference. However, you could cut energy on your heating bills by up to 10% as well as reducing the wear and tear of the boiler.

Therefore, if your heating bill is £1,000 per year, you’ll be saving approximately £100 just by lowering by 1 degree.

Understanding your controls

Heating controls allow you to regulate the temperature of your home. But if you don’t understand how the system works, you may not realise when you’re heating your home incorrectly, wasting hundreds of pounds in the process. Please note that your controls are likely to be different if you have a storage heater or hot air central heating.

Consider the points below to best manage your heating controls:

  • Thermostats should be set to 18-21 degrees for comfortable living conditions
  • The timer turns on your boiler at the times you set during the day or night
  • Your boiler heats water through a central heating system connected by pipes to your radiators.
  • Thermostats control the flow of warm water through your radiator system
  • When the thermostat hits the required temperature, it sends a signal to the boiler to stop sending hot water to your radiators
  • Thermostatic radiator valves help to moderate individual radiators to reach the optimum room temperature
  • Thermostats are properly positioned centrally where they can monitor constant airflow, not near fires or curtains
  • Your radiators should not be blocked by furniture and curtains or draped with clothing.
  • You should never have to alter your thermostat settings. Even when it is cold outside, your heating system will work to bring your property to the same temperature that you have set
  • If you must turn the heating up to cope with colder weather this may be due to heat loss around the home.

Avoid drying clothes on radiators 

There are two good reasons for not using your radiator as a drying rack: 

  1. You'll cause moisture or condensation by drying wet clothes on a radiator, leading to mouldy patches
  2. Using radiators to dry your clothes will reduce their ability to heat your home. Even if you use drying racks, their efficiency is still impaired.

Should you get rid of your electric blanket? 

Modern electric blankets are relatively cost efficient and safe to use. However, you should consider replacing your electric blanket if it’s old or the filaments are damaged.

To check, turn on the blanket to see whether there are any hot spots. This could be where the elements have warped or bent over time.

Visually you should always check the blanket for any discolouring caused by inconsistent heat levels.

Always look for other energy suppliers 

Mark some time in your diary to approach other energy suppliers when your current contract comes up for renewal.

You should have a stack of old bills so that you can get an accurate quote from your new energy supplier. Then compare tariffs and prices with your existing supplier.

Improve the quality of your windows

Improving the quality of your windows means that your house doesn’t suffer from the draughts and heat loss associated with inefficient glazing and frames.

Although this is something to be considered as a long-term solution to cutting down on your heating bills, it is still very important.

You’ll need to work out your sums correctly, because the gain of replacing single pane windows might not be cost-effective over the short term, but by installing A-rated double glazing windows to a single-glazed semi-detached property, you could save £95 per year and 330kg of carbon dioxide

Spread this over ten years and not only will you have help to regulate the temperature in your home, but you’ll have saved money on your heating bill.

Improving radiators 

To cut down on your heating bills make sure you follow these tips on improving the efficiency of your radiators:

  • Bleed your radiator to ensure heat is freely distributed across the whole panel
  • Fit a radiator reflector to redirect more heat into your room
  • Check your boiler pressure. It should measure 1.3 bar for a cold boiler and between 1.5-1.8 during use.

Plus, if you need to add or replace your radiator, don’t go on size, use BTU’s to establish how efficient it will be. British thermal units (BTU’s) are used to measure radiator output.

Submit your readings regularly 

Meters tell gas and electricity companies how much energy you’re using. Your utility meters should be read four times a year. If you submit meter readings regularly this will prevent your bill from being estimated and more accurate bills to be generated. 

If you have a smart meter you won't need to give readings as it'll do this automatically. 

Purchase energy-efficient appliances

When your old appliance finally gives up the ghost, make sure you replace it with the latest energy efficient kind.

Older appliances with less efficient processes might be cheaper in the short term, but you could pay for their deficiencies in the long term.

Make sure you get the appliance that suits your lifestyle, too. For example, buying a large energy efficient dishwasher will not work out more cost-effective if your average load fits easily into a smaller energy efficient dishwasher. 

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, a government scheme to cut carbon emissions, could give you money towards your heating costs if you install an eligible renewable heating system. These include biomass boilers, solar water heating or ground source heat pumps, so it might be worth exploring more renewable heating sources.

Invest in a new boiler 

A new boiler is a significant outlay with the average cost falling between £1,500 and £2,000 in 2022. The more energy efficient and high performing, the more they will cost. But these will last longer and require less maintenance. Any installation problems may also add to the fee.

Once fitted, and because heating plays a big part in our energy bills, a new boiler should see you claw back hundreds of pounds per year.

If your boiler is over ten years old, then you should think about replacing it. But, don’t wait until it reaches a certain age. With boilers you can also look at how well they perform the task of helping to heat your home.

For example, you’ll know it’s time to replace your boiler if it needs constant maintenance, or your fuel bills are unnecessarily high, or even that you spot signs of decay including yellow flames or sooty deposits.

Benefits of a new boiler include:

  • A quieter operating system
  • Usually they are more compact
  • Improved heating performance
  • Helps your home become more energy efficient
  • Could save you money on your heating bills.

Worried about your energy bills?

With energy prices surging, it’s natural to worry about what might be around the corner. But help is at hand if you’re struggling to pay your bills.

You may wish to check with your supplier if you can claim on the Warm Home Discount Schemewhich is a one-off discount on your electricity bill. In fact, the government offers a number of home energy grants designed to help pay for things like loft and cavity wall insulation. You can also use the Energy Efficiency Calculator to find tailored energy advice for your area.

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