Keeping household bills down in the winter months
Winter is coming. And it’s no secret that it’s the most costly time of the year by far for household bills. Combined with the added expense of Christmas, it can be a real strain on everybody’s bank balance.
But there are plenty of things you can do to keep costs low. Here are some top tips for driving down your bills this winter, without missing out on the warmth and cosiness that the season can bring.
Heating and hot water are the main culprits when it comes to household energy bills, making up over half of the average home’s expenditure. If your central heating system is fairly old, you could save around £75 a year by installing or upgrading its controls, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
By using a room thermostat, timer and thermostatic radiator valves, you can take full control of the household heating. And with a smart heating system, you can create heating zones, and just warm up the areas you use when you need it.
It’s also worth knowing that you could save £60 a year by setting your thermostat just one degree lower than you usually do. Your home doesn’t need to be tropical – if you set it to 18-21°C, you’ll still be at a comfortable temperature.
When it comes to hot water, make sure all your pipes are insulated. This means they won’t lose so much heat, and you’ll use less energy heating your water. This should save you about £10 a year which can really add up combined with other changes. You can also use less hot water by having showers rather than baths, and washing your clothes at 30°C, which is also better for the environment.
In rooms that you don’t use so much, it’s best to turn your radiators off, or to the lowest setting. But in the rooms you’d like to keep toasty, make sure the radiators are clear. This is the most efficient way to heat up a room, whereas too many of us hide the radiators with sofas or furniture that’ll absorb the heat.
For radiators backing onto external walls, you can prevent heat loss by fixing reflector panels behind the radiator. These help to reflect the heat back into the room, rather than losing it through the wall. Installing these could save you £19 a year.
Also, all heating systems get air trapped in them now and again, which makes them less efficient. So make sure to bleed your radiators regularly, and keep an eye out for tell-tale signs that this needs, such as radiators taking longer to warm up, or being cooler at the top.
When you’re relaxing around the house, stay cwtched up with an extra layer. Or you could really lean into lounging with a fluffy dressing gown, thick socks, slippers, and upping your blanket game. Winter is all about getting cosy, after all.
Also, to really localise the heating, get an extra-long hot water bottle for the colder nights. This is an investment you’ll never regret.
While Christmas lights are a fun way to get in the festive spirit, it’s best to keep them turned off during the day, when you’re not in, and when you go to bed.
Also, electricians advise that switching from incandescent lights to LEDs can cut your costs by 90%, and the LEDs will last over five times as long. Plus there’s no glass to break, and they emit very little heat, making them much safer and less of a fire risk than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Draft-proofing is a simple and effective way of keeping heat in your home, especially if you live in an older property. According to the Energy Saving Trust, draft-proofing windows and
doors in the average semi-detached house should save around £30 a year.
To do this, pop to your local DIY store and pick up some draught-proofing strips. These can be attached around windows, doors and loft hatches. You can also stop heat escaping from skirting and floorboards by sealing them with a silicone-based filler.
If you’re planning on cooking up a storm over the festive period, there are a few things you can do to make your culinary exploits more energy efficient.
While cooking in the oven is enjoyable, it’s among the less efficient household appliances. As such, when in use, it’s best to maximise it. Plan your cooking so that you can make several items at the same time. It’s best not to open the oven door too much during cooking, as it’ll lose heat. And if you turn it off ten minutes before your food is due to come out, it will continue cooking in the residual heat.
By contrast, if you have a slow cooker, this is one of the most energy-efficient appliances. Using a slow cooker for 8 hours a day will cost you just £14 a year according to Ovo Energy. And they’re great for cooking winter warmers such as soups, stews, chilli and curries.