Brr - it's official, the chill is coming.
While we may have been stubbornly clinging on to the last few rays of those Summery days, Autumn is officially here and as temperatures drop, we need to start turning our heating up.
It's another cost to consider and for some of us can put a substantial strain on our budgets, however, it needn't be that way. With some structural considerations and careful management and planning, you can learn to use your heating much more economically. Let's make this Winter's bills the lowest yet!
Make a huge impact on your heating bills with these big changes
While it's not essential to make drastic changes to see a decrease in your heating costs, big, structural changes to your home have an undeniable impact on how economically your house can run. If you don't have the budget to make changes straight away, that's no big deal, but if you're a homeowner and planning on staying in the same house long-term, they are worth considering.
A better-insulated home means a more economical home, helping the heat you pay to put in it stay there for as long as possible. We often presume that all insulation is worthwhile, however, it's not always the case. Depending on how long you plan to stay in your home along with the cost of fitting the insulation will alter how much return you'll get on investment. Here are a few of the surefire ones to go for:
I can still hear my science teacher's words ringing in my ears, "hot air rises". Well, turns out he was right, and that lesson was more useful than I thought. An estimated quarter of all heat in our home is lost through the roof. It's no wonder, therefore, that the government is always encouraging us to invest in loft insulation. While it may be a large cost to begin with, it has a payback period of just two years, so if you're planning on staying a while, it's a small investment to make.
- Cavity wall insulation
If you're lucky enough to be moving into a new build, don't think twice about having cavity wall insulation. Similarly to loft insulation, the initial prospect of the price can be intimidating, but with a payback period of just three years, it'll make your new home much more economical in the long run and help keep your heating bills low.
And the not so good:
- Double glazing
I've always presumed that double-glazing was a rewarding investment to make, but turns out I may have been mistaken. Window insulation definitely reduces energy costs, by anywhere between £70-£110 a year, however, the initial cost is so great that the full payback could take up to a massive 85 years. Of course, double-glazing usually comes as standard these days and will definitely improve the sellability of your home, but you need to weigh up the pros and cons in detail before you make the commitment.
Use a different energy source
We all know that gas is cheaper to buy than electricity. However, few of us know by how much: 3-4 times cheaper than electricity per kilo watt is the answer - that's more than I ever imagined! So, if you're on the look-out for a new home, this is definitely a question you should be asking as the answer could affect your bills dramatically.
If you're already a homeowner in a house with electric central heating and planning on staying long-term, it's worth getting a quote for a gas central heating to be installed. Again, initial costs can be offputting but in the long-run, it will make your home much more affordable, and sellable, too.
Change energy supplier
As with everything, you can easily end up paying over the odds if you don't do your research properly. Don't make that mistake - get online and get looking before you make a commitment to any supplier. Comparison sites are good, but it's also worth checking individual supplier websites to ensure you don't miss out on exclusive or limited offer deals.
Noticeably reduce your heating bills with small adjustments to your daily routine
Now it's time for the easy ones! Here are some of my own favourite ways to keep my energy bills low and my home cosy which require hardly any effort at all:
Use your thermostat appropriately
If you have a thermostat in your home, it's time to make full use of it. Depending on how technologically advanced it is, you could be able to alter all things from the temperate to what time you wish it to come on, lessen and increase. Closely monitoring exactly when you need heat (mornings and evenings) and when you don't (during the day) will help reduce costs. You also won't have to worry about remembering to turn off the heating yourself when you rush out in the morning as you can programme it to do this automatically for you.
Use your radiator valves
Using your thermostat to monitor your heating is a great start, but if you want to have full control over your heat's dispersion, you need to use your radiator valves, too. Turn them down in rooms you use less or that stay warmer, like your kitchen and bathroom, and higher in rooms like your living room and bedroom where you spend most of your time.
Open your oven
One of the reasons you can turn your radiators down in your kitchen is because heat can be produced in other ways. The steam from pots, gas from the hob, and heat from the oven are all ways you can add warmth to your kitchen without using extra energy. Open your oven door when your cooking's done to let the remaining heat flow out into the room and maximise your energy usage.
Reduce the temperature
If you're sat around in strappy tops and sandals in Winter, your heating's too high. Consider lowering your thermostat by just one-degree celsius to see a reduction in your energy bills by up to 10% a year.
Use the sun
Unusually sunny day? Pull those curtains open and let the light flood in. While it's by no means a reliable solution all Winter long, it will provide sun-soaked rooms with a toasty boost.
Wear more clothes
It may sound obvious, but invest in some fluffy socks and a few good jumpers for Winter and you won't have to have the heating on as high. It may not be as easy as coming home to a super warm house, but when you see how much money you save by reaching for the layers before the temperature valve, you'll soon warm to the idea.
Lock doors and windows
Have you noticed how it can often be difficult to close your windows and doors? This is because they must become much tighter in order to lock, which can only mean one thing - less warm air escaping. Make sure you lock and not just close your windows and doors when you leave, not just for safety reasons, but for energy efficiency, too!
Check your meters regularly
When you think about how many people energy companies supply every single day, it's easy to understand how mistakes could (and do) happen. Take matters into your own hands and check your meters monthly. It may seem like a wasted job, especially if the readings correspond with those sent by your energy company, but those extra five minutes spent checking could save you from paying more than you should.
I hope I've helped show you that you needn't worry about your heating costs this Winter. With my tips and some mindfulness, you can keep your home cosy and warm without using much energy at all.