Keep warm this winter
A cold winter doesn't have to mean unexpected bills and boiler breakdowns - there's a lot you can do yourself to help keep your home and heating system ticking along.
Save up to £85 a year using a programmable thermostat
By reducing the temperature in your home by just 1ºC you could lower your heating bill by up to £85 a year. So if you've got yours higher than 21ºC, turn the thermostat down just a little and see if you notice any difference (it'll take a few hours to adjust). Remember, the recommended temperature is between 18ºC and 21ºC, and 21ºC for small children and older people.
Time your hot water
If you’ve got a system boiler – the type that heats up water for your bath or the washing up – there’s probably a large part of the day when you don’t need to use it.
Put your hot water on a timer set to come on before you get up or get home. Give it 20 minutes to heat up if it’s a newer boiler, 40 minutes if it’s older. You’ll be using less energy in no time.
If you’re in more at weekends, work out when you’ll need it most and set your programmer to fit your schedule.
Mind the gaps
If you live in an older house, you’ll know all about draughts. Decorator’s caulk is a flexible sealant which you can use to seal gaps around doors, windows and skirting boards. Add keyhole covers to doors and draught brushes at the bottom.
If you’ve got gaps in your floorboards, a good rug will help. Open fireplaces may look good but they can create a vacuum, sucking in cold air from the floor. A chimney balloon will help fix that.
Windows are sometimes described as ‘negative radiators’. Putting thick, heavy curtains over them is like giving them a woolly jumper.
Same goes for your front and back door. You could also add thermal lining. It’s not certain how much money it can save, but you should feel the difference. When your house is cold, every degree counts.
Make the most of natural heat
If you've got a conservatory or patio doors that catch the sun, keep the curtains open during the sunniest part of the day and let the warmth in.
Don't forget to shut them again once the sun goes down or you'll be losing heat again fairly quickly.
It’s really easy to add a few rolls of insulation to your loft. As long as it’s safe, get up in your roof and measure the gaps between joists. Buy insulation in the right width and depth and roll it out along the gaps.
That’s it. Don’t forget the dust mask – you don’t want to breathe in insulation dust. And if you can get to the joists in your cellar too, you can buy insulation panels, cut them to size and pin them in place with tacks.