It is impossible to avoid the dire warnings about spiralling energy prices and the impact it is going to have on our household bills this winter.
As temperatures start to dip and our homes get chillier, our natural instinct is to reach for the thermostat. But this year, it might be wise to think about how to keep your home warm for free.
Making some simple changes and trying a few genius home hacks could save you a fortune on your energy bills this winter.
As so many of us are being mindful about our post-pandemic finances, we asked Michael Reading from Housetastic to share his simple, cost-effective ways to heat your home:
Rejig your furniture
Think about the position of your furniture, as keeping bulkier items such as sofas or wardrobes in certain areas may result in you spending more on your energy bills.
‘Any furniture which covers radiators will prevent heat from travelling around the room,’ Michael tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Even just a partial blocking will limit the amount of heat omitted.”
He says another way to keep warm in the winter is to move your furniture away from any external walls.
‘You will notice the colder air more if you are sat against an external wall, so try and keep furniture against internal walls. You will feel more comfortable and less obliged to turn the heating on.’
A terracotta heater is a great way to keep warm without using any energy. The idea behind a terracotta heater is it heats up slowly and retains heat well, meaning up to three terracotta pots can be powered by just one candle.
‘A terracotta heater can be a great DIY alternative to turning the heating on, as all you need are a few clay pots and candles,’ says Michael.
Although this is a more expensive method, making sure your home is properly insulated is one of the most cost-effective ways to save you money in the long run.
‘Insulating walls is a key part of having a thermal-efficient, and therefore more eco-friendly home, as heat is retained inside,’ says Michael.
‘While the average budget for renovating a full house can be up to £7,000, the savings that come from doing this are worthwhile.’
It is common to turn the heating on as soon as the temperature starts to drop, however, this can be a costly habit.
‘If possible, try to see whether or not you really need to turn the heating on, especially when it’s earlier in the autumn months,’ Michael advises.
‘Set a timer early in the morning so your home is nice and warm as you get ready for the day, and perhaps set a timer in the early evenings, but generally the heating does not need to be on all day.’
If you do insist on turning the heating on, be mindful of what temperature you set it to.
‘It is estimated that turning the thermostat down by just one degree can save up to 10% on a fuel bill, not to mention the amount of energy,’ Michael says. ‘Assess whether you really need to turn the heating to its highest temperature and instead aim for a comfortable heat.’
Hang a shelf above a radiator
Hanging a shelf just above a radiator is actually a great compliment to the radiator as it helps distribute the radiator’s heat more evenly.
‘By hanging a shelf just above a radiator, the shelf acts almost like a shield, helping to shift heat outwards from the radiator, rather than letting the heat rise up to the ceiling,’ says Michael.
Bleed your radiator
Check your radiator to assess whether or not it is heating up properly. If there are cold spots, you may need to bleed it.
‘When radiators have cold spots present, this is a sign that there is air trapped inside them,’ Michael explains. ‘This trapped air stops the warm water from properly circulating your radiator and results in taking longer to heat up your room.’
How to bleed your radiators
It’s recommended you bleed all radiators at least once a year and doing so is fairly straightforward, as Michael explains:
● Using a radiator key, which can be purchased from all good DIY shops, turn the valve at the top of the radiator slowly and anticlockwise.
● You should hear a hissing sound, which is the trapped air escaping.
● Eventually, the hissing sound will stop and instead water will start leaking out. At this stage retighten the valve quickly to avoid too much water escaping.
Block your chimney
As the weather turns, you may start to notice an excessive draught coming from the chimney. Although fireplaces can be the main focal point in a living room, the reality is an open chimney can result in unwanted draughts and heat escaping.
‘Blocking a chimney can be the only viable option in these circumstances, however you must be careful to do this properly,’ says Michael.
‘Never seal off the top of the chimney, especially if you do use your fireplace, as this will seal the heat inside the chimney and can cause extreme overheating.
‘Instead, if your fireplace is out of use, then a temporary cover for it should help retain the heat inside while keeping the draughts away from circulating the room.’
Many older properties have single glazed windows and doors, which may result in outdoor air being allowed inside and heat escaping outside.
‘Assess all of your windows and doors and see whether there are gaps in the frame which allow draughts to move freely,’ says Michael. ‘If there are significant draughts which can’t be easily covered, then it would be worth investing in stronger doors with at least double glazing.
‘If your budget doesn’t permit replacing doors and windows, or if you are renting and aren’t allowed to make substantial changes, then invest in draught stoppers which can be used to cover up holes in frameworks. This, however, is not a long-term solution.’
A considerable amount of heat is lost through a home’s windows; however, curtains are a great solution to preventing this from becoming any worse.
‘Curtains aid in heat retention, working to restrict the flow of air between the warmth of your home to the cold outside,’ says Michael. ‘Heavier curtains will act as a barrier, preventing air from flowing from the window.’
Uninsulated floors can account for up to 10% of heat loss, especially if the floors are bare and not properly insulated.
‘If you have wooden flooring, with considerable gaps between the planks, then thick rugs can prevent the warm air from escaping,’ says Michael.
Wooden floor planks do contract and shrink with changing temperatures, so it is important to keep an eye on this. If you notice the gaps becoming considerably larger, then it would be worth filling the gaps with filler. This will help keep the floorboards safe and should keep the air inside.
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