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How to save money on your heating bills

  • 4, Feb 2022
  • Read time: 14 mins

Between January and March 2022, average annual energy bills jumped 21% compared to the same time last year. Domestic gas prices also increased by 26% and electricity prices by 17%. The energy crunch is in full swing. With homeworking increasing, many of us are spending more time indoors. This means we’re likely to have our heating on more – leading to extra costs. Finding new ways to save money on heating bills has become something of a hot topic.

From simple tips like using draft excluders to fitting cavity wall installations, this guide will provide you with practical 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.

Here are some suggestions to keep your heating bills under control and cut down the carbon footprint of your home.

Infographic with tips on how to save money on home appliances

Insulate your loft

It's estimated that up to a quarter of your home’s heat escapes through an uninsulated roof.

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

To insulate your loft:

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

Fill wall cavities 

This is an excellent way to reduce your heating bills and will significantly improve the in-house climate by spreading the heat more evenly.

It is a job best left to the registered installers who can usually complete the task in 24 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 through walls, windows and doors.

Putting in draught proofing materials is simple. To avoid your money quite literally flying out the window, make sure all doors and windows are properly sealed.

Here’s a checklist of the jobs for getting rid of draughts:

  • Don’t block extractor fans as these help remove moisture from rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • Don’t block air bricks or floor grilles as these allow your house to breathe and prevents rotting
  • Ensure rooms with open fires have plenty of ventilation
  • Use draught prevention foam strips around windows
  • For front doors, buy a key latch cover
  • 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 it if 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. A hot water cylinder insulation jacket has a plastic cover filled with recycled fibre glass material. By fitting a ‘jacket’ at least 75mm thick you could reduce heat loss from the tank. Make sure to measure your hot water cylinder so you get the right size.

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
    • Measuring the tank to get the right fit before buying the jacket. It should be at least 75mm thick
    • Turning off the water tank and before you start working it should be cool to the touch
    • Tying the jacket with cord 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’ll feel the difference. However, you could cut energy on your heating bills by up to 10%.

If your heating bill is £1,000 per year, you’ll save approximately £100 just by lowering the temperature 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.

To best manage your heating controls consider:

  • 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,
  • You should never have to alter your thermostat settings. Even when it’s cold outside, your heating system will work to bring your property to the same temperature that you have set
  • If you find you need to 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. Wet clothes on a radiator causes moisture or condensation, resulting in mouldy patches
  2. Using radiators to dry 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 you spot any damaged filaments.

Check by turning on the blanket to see whether there are any hot spots. The elements may have warped or bent over time.

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

Always look for other energy suppliers 

Make time in your diary to compare tariffs of other energy suppliers when your current contract comes up for renewal.

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 consider as a long-term solution to cutting down on your heating bills, it’s still very important.

You’ll need to work out your sums correctly. 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 £145 per year and 335kg of carbon dioxide.

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 so 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

If you need to add or replace your radiator, don’t go on size, use British thermal units (BTU’s) to establish how efficient it'll be. 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, you’ll avoid estimated bills and generate more accurate costs.

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 government’s Green Deal could help you make energy-saving improvements in your home and find the best way to pay them. Solutions include insulation, heating and draught-proofing. If you applied for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, a government scheme to cut carbon emissions, you may have received money towards your heating costs by installing an eligible renewable heating system.

Invest in a new boiler 

A new boiler is a significant outlay with an average cost of between £1,500 and £2,000 in 2022. These tend to last longer and require less maintenance. Any installation problems may also add to the cost of having a new boiler fitted.

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 10 years old, you should think about replacing it. Don’t wait until it reaches a certain age.

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

Benefits of a new boiler include:

  • A quieter operating system
  • Often 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 Scheme, which is a one-off discount on your electricity bill. In fact, the government offers a number of handy 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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