Save money on heating
Some Statistics on how to save money on your heating bill
£1,044 Average annual gas and electricity bill for a family living in a three-bedroom house, according to Ofgem
51% Amount by which gas and electricity bills have risen over the past five years (Ofgem)
47% Proportion of households that have never switched their energy supplier (University of East Anglia)
Up to £250
Do a free home energy check at energysavingtrust.org.uk and you’ll receive a report telling you how you can save up to £250 a year on your household energy bills. If you would rather have a paper copy to complete, call 0800 512 012 and speak to your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre.
Advanced saving tips
1. Switch suppliers
If you’ve never switched your gas or electricity supplier, you could save £100 a year on average, according to the fuel regulator Ofgem. The exact amount you’ll save by switching depends on the suppliers you’re with now, how much fuel you use and how you pay your bills.
Energywatch, the independent watchdog for gas and electricity consumers, offers free information and advice on how to switch suppliers at energywatch.org.uk or on its helpline 08459 060708. Once you’ve got that advice, go to one of the comparison websites to work out which suppliers would be best for you and how cash much you’d save by switching. Websites that are worth checking out include:theenergyshop.com, uswitch.com, moneysupermarket.com andenergyhelpline.com
2. Upgrade your heating and hot water system
A new, high-efficiency condensing boiler with heating controls could save you up to £200 a year. Compare the efficiency of different boilers at boilers.org.uk. Heating controls including a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves will keep your home at a comfortable temperature, making it warm when you want it but switching off when you don’t.
3. Reduce your heating bills
Turn your room heating thermostat down by 1°C and cut your heating bills by up to 10%; this simple measure could save you around £40 per year.
Other simple ways to cut your heating bills include closing your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows. And keep furniture away from radiators if possible – an upholstered sofa will block the heat, stopping it getting into the room.
Also, don’t forget to open internal doors to rooms that get the most sun – after all, the sun is the cheapest form of energy. Opening doors to sunny rooms mean that the warm air circulates throughout the house rather than remaining trapped in one room.
Don’t crank up your domestic water to a scalding temperature – setting your cylinder thermostat to 60°C/140°F should be adequate.
Fix dripping taps and turn them off properly – a dripping hot water tap wastes energy and enough hot water in one week to fill half a bath.
If you’re not filling up your washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, use the half-load or economy programme. And use the washing machine’s 30°C wash if possible, saving you up to three-quarters the cost of the hottest cycle. In the kitchen, only boil as much water as you need.
4. Choose energy-efficient appliances
The “Energy Saving Recommended” logo guarantees that products have met strict criteria on energy efficiency and will cost less to run. “A” is the most efficient energy rating, “G” the least; refrigeration products now go up to A++. Search for products using the Energy Saving Recommended database at energysavingtrust.org.uk
5. And don’t waste electricity
Use energy-saving light bulbs – just one can save you £60 over the lifetime of the bulb as they last up to 10 times longer than ordinary lightbulbs.
Only use the heat and light appliances you really need. Switch lights off when you leave a room. Don’t leave TVs, DVD players and computers on standby and don’t leave appliances like mobile phones and toothbrushes on charge unnecessarily.
6. Draught-proof your house
In a typical home, 20% of all heat-loss is through poor ventilation and draughts. This is easily remedied with foams and sealants available at most DIY stores, and you should save around £20 a year on your heating bills. Products should conform to the standard BS 7386.
7. Insulate your loft …
Without loft insulation, which acts as a blanket trapping heat rising from the house below, you could be losing as much as 15% of your heating costs through your roof. Insulating your loft, which you can do yourself, is an effective way to reduce your heating bills. If you currently have no loft insulation and you install the recommended 270mm depth, you could save around £110 a year on your bills.
Lag your pipes and water tank at the same time for optimum efficiency – fitting a British Standard jacket around your hot water cylinder will cut heat loss by over 75%. A new 80mm thick jacket costing around £12 will save you £20 a year on your fuel bill.
8. Your walls …
Around a third of all the heat lost in an uninsulated home is lost through the walls. If your home has unfilled cavity walls, insulating them could cut your heating costs by 15% and save you around £90 a year on fuel bills. It will take a professional two to three hours to carry out the insulation work in a three-bed semi-detached house and cost around £500.
If your home has solid walls, heat loss can be reduced by insulating them on the inside or the outside. External wall insulation is more expensive than cavity wall insulation, but can save you around £300 a year on your energy bills. Internal wall insulation is cheaper and again can save around £300 a year on your bills.
9. And your floors
Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. Doing this on the ground floor will save around £40 a year on heating bills. Using a silicon sealant to fill gaps between floorboards and skirting boards to stop draughts will save you a further £15 a year – but don’t block under-floor airbricks in your outside walls, as floorboards will rot without adequate ventilation.
10. Install double glazing
Fitting double glazing – which is a professional job, not really for the DIY enthusiast – can cut heat-loss through windows by half and can save between £80 and £100 a year on your heating bills. Costs vary considerably so the payback period will also vary. Look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo when choosing windows.
11. Get your boiler serviced regularly
Getting your boiler fixed in an emergency can be expensive, with call-out charges plus VAT and parts running to hundreds of pounds – especially if your boiler dies on a weekend or a holiday, as they inevitably do. Get it serviced regularly instead and catch problems before they become crises.
Generate your own power. Renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and biomass heaters are becoming increasingly popular. Solar PV (photovoltaic), for example, uses energy from the sun to create electricity to run appliances and lighting. For the average domestic system, costs can be between £5,000 and £8,000 per kWp installed, with most domestic systems usually between 1.5 and 3kWp. Installing a system could save between £150 and £200 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Grab a grant, too. The government’s low-carbon buildings programme provides grants of up to £2,500 for installing renewable energy technologies in the home. Apply online at lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/home. You can find out about grants by using the EST’s online search facility.
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