Feel warmer at home with these simple, free or low cost top tips, written by Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy.

1. Reduce heat loss

Stop cold air coming in and keep heat in your home by getting rid of draughts

Check by feeling where cold air is coming in and warm air is escaping.

  • Block gaps under doors and windows using rolled-up towels or fill a pair of tights with clothes.
  • Use a letterbox cover, ‘brush’ draft-excluders under front and back doors and a keyhole cover.
  • Check extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms taking damp, smelly air out have covers outside.
  • Sealant around windows goes over time and may need replacing – reseal with silicone gel sealant.
  • Fill in cracks and gaps in walls, around windows and fittings – you can use foam, putty and even tissue and cement or a hard-setting decorators’ wall-filler on external walls.

Use curtains to stop warm air escaping

Close curtains when it’s getting dark and tuck them behind radiators. Use thick, lined or thermal curtains (from £15 new) or add thermal linings to your curtains using Velcro. A thermal curtain across the inside of front and back doors can help stop heat loss.

Secondary glazing can reduce heat lost through your windows

If you have single-glazed windows, put up a layer of cling-film to trap air and stop heat escaping - shrink it to fit the window using a hairdryer. Specialist secondary glazing lasts longer and costs about £10.

2. Increase warmth

Shut the doors to rooms you use most.

If you are mainly in one room during the day you could use a room heater instead of central heating. To heat a room for a few hours or so a convector heater works well but for a short blast of directional heat a radiant heater may be better. This table shows how much heaters cost to run on the highest setting - heaters with a thermostat will turn off when they reach the set temperature, so they cost less over several hours.

Radiators

  • Furniture such as sofas or beds in front of radiators absorb the heat and stop warm air circulating.
  • Don’t cover radiators or dry clothes on them.
  • ‘Bleed’ radiators with a ‘radiator valve key’ to get rid of air trapped inside.

Reducing damp and condensation

You need ways for damp air in bathrooms and kitchens to escape so it doesn’t cause mould. Use extractor fans, keep doors closed when you’re cooking or having a shower and don’t block up working vents. Keep lids on saucepans. Leave a gap between furniture and the walls to let air circulate. Wipe down windows with condensation.

3. Keep costs down

Understanding your heating controls will help you use your system efficiently.

CSE has help sheets on using heating controls for different systems such as central heating and electric storage heaters including Dimplex Quantum heaters which work best with a cheap night rate tariff e.g. Economy 7 – https://www.cse.org.uk/advice/advice-and-support 

Rooms:

  • Turn off central heating 30 minutes before you go out or to bed as the house will stay warm.
  • If you can, turn your thermostat down 1oC and put warmer clothes on – 18-21oC in living areas should be enough for healthy adults, 21oC to 23oC for people who are very young, old or ill.
  • If you have thermostat dials on your radiators, set ones in rooms you don’t use much or during the day on low but on/above the frost setting so it doesn’t drop below freezing.
  • If you have a gas, ‘combi’ boiler (one that does your heating and hot water so you don’t have a separate tank to heat your hot water) the temperature for the water to the radiators is often set too high. If you can turn it down on the front of your boiler to 60C you could save 6% or more energy – check your boiler manual or see this online tool: www.moneysavingboilerchallenge.com.
  • You could also turn off the pre-heat function if you’re out all day – check your boiler manual.

Water

If you have a separate tank to heat/store your hot water, use the controls to heat it up once or twice a day (if you’re on Economy 7 use the cheap night rate), leaving it on 24/7 costs more. Modern tanks are insulated inside but if yours isn’t, use a British Standard Kitemark ‘jacket’ at least 80mm thick.

In the Kitchen

Cooking using a microwave is cheaper than an oven - cooking a jacket potato in a microwave uses 25% energy compared to an oven. A slow cooker is efficient as it runs on low power but it takes several hours.

Microwave 1000 W 34p an hour
Grill/Oven 2000 - 2400 W 68 - 81p an hour
Slow Cooker 150 - 300 W 5 - 10p an hour
Hob (per ring) 1000 - 2000 W 34 - 68p an hour
  • Simmer rather than boil food to save money
  • Use a bowl for washing up to use less hot water
  • Put your fridge freezer where air can circulate and not near a radiator or a cooker

Try changing how you do your laundry

Wash more in a load and at 30oC - you could save £54 year and your clothes will last longer.

Lights

Replace old light bulbs with LED’s, they use half the energy of the spiral lightbulbs.

This guide shows how much energy different appliances at home use and cost to run - a 10-minute shower will cost you 78p and an hour of tumble drying £1.30.

Contact your energy supplier

Take readings from your electricity/gas meter every 3 months and give them to your supplier so you get charged for what you’re using – not their estimate. Check you’re on the cheapest rate/ tariff and if you are in debt, you can make a plan with them.

If you have a health condition or have children under 5 at home, ask if you should be on their Priority Services Register – to get extra help in a power cut.

Increase your income and get help with debt

You can find other ways you might save money on your energy bills at www.nea.org.uk/energyhelp  including the Warm Home Discount Rebate, Cost of living support package and energy efficiency grants. Call: Citizens Advice Consumer Advice Line on 0808 223 1133, Age UK Wiltshire on 0808 196 2424 or Warm and Safe Wiltshire on 0800 038 5722 – they have help sheets on specific energy topics - also on their website https://www.warmandsafewiltshire.org.uk/energy-advice

Estimated heat loss and costs are from The Energy Saving Trust unless otherwise indicated.