The nights are drawing in, you’ve got your winter jumpers out from the back of the cupboard and they’re already stocking Christmas decorations in the shops. Yes, it’s that time of year when we all need to get set for colder weather. But with a bit of preparation you shouldn’t need to worry about energy bills over the winter months – there’s a lot you can do to ensure you stay warm without breaking the bank.
Around 40% of us worry about keeping our homes warm in winter. Our tips and advice should help you avoid being one of them.
Your boiler is key to heating and hot water – but how old is it and when did you last get it serviced? You can save yourself a lot of heartache by ensuring your boiler is working effectively before the worst of the weather sets in. You should get your boiler service annually by a gas safe registered engineer.
When upgrading, servicing or maintaining gas appliances, always ensure that your heating engineer is listed on the Gas Safe Register, which is the official list of businesses that are legally permitted to carry out gas work.
If your boiler is over ten years old, it’s going to be less efficient than a new boiler. It’s not cheap to replace a boiler, a straightforward gas boiler replacement plus installing thermostatic radiator valves will typically cost about £2,300. However, a modern A-rated condensing boiler will be far more efficient and help save on your heating bills.
Find out more about replacing your boiler.
You can upgrade or install heating controls without replacing your boiler. It’s worth investigating, particularly if your controls are over 14 years old – room thermostats in particular are far more accurate than they used to be.
You can save £80 and 320kg of carbon emissions a year by turning a room thermostat down by one degree. That simple change won’t actually cost you anything.
Read more about how to use your thermostats and controls effectively.
If you’re lucky enough to be planning a series of home improvements – a new kitchen, loft conversion or extension to your property, remember to build in insulating or draught-proofing measures. Most builders will only make energy efficient upgrades up to the point required by building regulations but you can do more, without significantly increasing costs.
Talk to your builder about energy efficient windows and doors or how much insulation they plan to put into your extension or loft conversion. A small extra outlay at this point could mean significant savings down the road.
Read our tips for energy efficient home improvements.
The final part of keeping bills and energy use down, has to be about keeping the heat in. Houses built from the 1990s onwards tend to have wall insulation already but older properties may well not. About a third of all the heat lost in an uninsulated home escapes through the walls.
Houses built earlier than the 1920s are likely to have solid walls. These can be insulated either from the inside or the outside – it’s a more expensive technique than cavity wall insulation but the savings on your bills are larger too. Read our advice on solid wall insulation.
Houses built 1920s - 1990s tend to have cavity walls. Insulating cavity walls requires a bit of capital outlay but you can usually make back the cost within about five years, with the savings you’ll make on your energy bills. See more about insulating cavity walls.
Topping up insulation of your hot water tank can save around £25 a year, as well as 130 kg of CO2. Pipe insulation can save around £10 a year on your energy bills. It can also prevent your condensate waste pipe from freezing, and stopping your condensing boiler working in extreme temperatures.
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of insulating your property. While you need ventilation to prevent damp and mould in kitchens and bathrooms where there’s a lot of moisture, you can safely block draughts around windows in bedrooms, living rooms and hallways. Find out more in our advice on draught-proofing.