Can I stay warm and reduce my bills?

There are 3 parts to staying warm and reducing costs.  

  • Insulate your home and yourself.
  • Organise your life so you use less energy.
  • Replace your use of energy with free or low cost renewable sources.

Insulating

Start at the top with your loft.  Yes its a pain to empty the junk out and properly insulate but it is well worth it. You can reduce household heating bills by up to £240 a year just by doing this.  

Big savings also come when you insulate your hot water pipes and tank

If you have cavity walls having them filled will reduce your bills. If you have solid walls there are some insulation options. Building a conservatory may help or stack your supply of logs against the wall to help keep the heat in. 

Windows lose heat. You can double or triple glaze but just starting by servicing them to reduce gaps and droughts helps.  Closing curtains as soon as dusk comes, especially if you have fitted blinds and curtains with insulated linings will reduce your bills.

Cold air can creep in rounds gaps where pipes go through the wall.  Block these holes to keep your warm air in. NB you must leave your vent clear and unblocked if you use gas or solid fuel appliances.  You are at risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning if you do not.

Radiators sited against outside walls lose heat through them. Reflective insulation behind them will keep more heat indoors.  Consider moving radiators to inside walls or switch to underfloor heating.

Heat is lost downwards too.  Underfloor insulation, insulating underlay (unless you have underfloor heating) and thick insulating carpet are options.

Insulate yourself by wearing a vest and several other layers. Maybe try a onezie over the top. Have some blankets in the living room to snuggle under when sitting still. Consider a hot water bottle to heat you or your bed rather than heating the whole house. Have a thick quilt on your bed and a spare blanket in case it does get very cold. Socks in bed are surprisingly effective at helping you feel warm. 

Reducing Energy Use

This pick and mix list should have some ideas which suit or send us your tips and we will add them.

  • Boil the kettle with the amount of water you plan to use.
  • Make sure you have an efficient boiler and properly set heating controls
  • Get up when the sun rises and go to bed when darkness falls.
  • When you run a hot bath or wash up, leave the hot water in the bath or bowl so it transfers heat to the room before you drain it away.
  • Turn lights off when you leave a room.  
  • Watch TV with other lights off.
  • Turn TV and other equipment off when you have finished using it, rather than leaving on on standby
  • Change to LED lights
  • In the evening, all gather in one room so you are not lighting and heating the whole house.
  • Cook several things at once, making efficient use of your oven.
  • Close curtains when darkness falls.  
  • Put curtains across doors to decrease heat loss.
  • Close the doors in the rooms you are in.
  • Turn your thermostat down.  A degree a month going down to 18C will give you time to adjust. 
  • Dry clothes on a line not in the tumble dryer
  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full.
  • Leave hot food on the side to cool before putting in the fridge or freezer.
  • If you have solar panels use energy during daylight hours to make best use of the energy you panels generate.
  • If you have a wood burning stove you can heat large stones on the top. The stones can be put in water to heat it, placed in your bed to warm the sheets or left in a cold room to warm the air. 
  • Change your doorbell to a manual one not one powered from the mains. They are surprisingly energy inefficient.

Renewable Energy

You can earn some money from your energy company and create energy to save you buying electricity by installing solar panels. These usually go on a south facing roof though can be installed on roofs facing south west. The cost of installing usually pays back out of the electricity savings and income you make, within about 8 years. 

You can reduce your gas or electricity costs in heating water by installing water heating solar panels. These go on a warm roof. South facing ideally. When they are installed, a much larger and very well insulated water tank is also installed.  The warmth on the roof heats water which is circulated through the tank and transfers its heat to your hot water supply. In the summer this may mean you do not have to heat the water at all. In the winter, your boiler or emersion heater uses less energy because it is heating already warmed water.

You can buy your electricity from companies such as Ecotricity that get their power only from renewable sources.

You can use wood on a fire or wood burning stove but to be C02 neutral you should be replacing the wood you burn with trees you plant or support the planting of.