Winter tips

Expert advice to help keep your house warm and efficient

Peter Keeley

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 over, Pete Kealey our npower engineer tells you how.


" When I’m out visiting customers, the most common questions I get asked are about energy efficiency and boiler maintenance. That and how to bleed a radiator! Here’s my advice on keeping your house cosy."


Save up to £85 a year using your programmable thermostat

Reduce the temperature in your home by just 1ºC and you could reduce your heating bill by up to £85 each 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 18ºC - 21ºC and 21ºC for young 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 - and you’ll use less energy.

If you’re in more at weekends, work out when you’ll need it most and set your programmer.

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. And they might look good, but open fireplaces can create a vacuum, sucking in cold air from the floor. A chimney balloon will could help fix that.

Thick curtains

I often describe windows 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, you can buy insulation panels, cut them to size and pin them in place with tacks.


Bleed your radiators

Over time, radiators develop pockets of air, and these air pockets cause cold spots. To help your radiator get warm from top to bottom, you need to get the air out. Watch and I’ll show you how to bleed a radiator.

Have you seen our....

Help and Support section for your boiler

View video transcript +

If you don’t think that your radiator is giving out as much heat as it should be, it could be because some air has become trapped in it. To keep heating your home efficiently, you’ll need to bleed that trapped air so that the water can circulate and heat the radiator properly.

If the bottom of the radiator is hot but the top is cold, then that’s usually a clear sign that you need to bleed the radiator. First of all, turn your central heating off and grab a cloth, you’ll need this to soak up any water that comes out.

When the radiators have cooled down, insert a radiator key into the valve,either on the side or the rear of the radiator, and turn it anti clockwise.You’ll only need to turn it about a quarter or half a turn and then you shouldhear a hissing noise as the trapped air is released.

When water flows out, that means the air has been released.Now just use the key to tighten the valve up and turn your central heating back on. Often, you’ll only need to bleed the highest radiator in your house, usually the one in the bathroom. After you’ve bled the radiator, check the pressure gauge on your boiler to make sure there’s still enough pressure.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us at npower.