As winter sets in and temperatures plummet, many of us will be cranking up the heating.
While gas and electricity bills typically rise at this time of year, households could face significantly higher costs this year due to increased energy usage due to Covid-19 and lockdown.
Those of us working from home are likely to leave the heating on for much longer than usual each day, increasing our energy consumption quite considerably.
The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take around your house or flat to ensure you stay warm and toasty – without resulting in your gas and electricity bills breaking the bank.
Here we separate fact from fiction when it comes to the ways you can stop your hard-earned heat from escaping, and dispel some of the myths surrounding energy efficient measures.
Putting tin foil behind your radiator can help you conserve energy – FACT
This might sound ridiculous, but something as simple as cleverly-placed foil really will help you save both energy and cash.
Rather than let heat escape through the external wall, the foil will reflect hot air back into the room.
Search online, and you should be able to purchase purpose-made foil for just a few pounds.
Putting a brush inside the letterbox will save you cash – FACT
Another simple way to save money on energy is by purchasing a brush to go in your letterbox to eliminate draughts. You could also buy brushes and draught excluders to put at the bottom of doors to do the same job. The key is to prevent cold air from coming into your home.
Purchasing a jacket for your hot water tank can help you keep energy costs down – FACT
By insulating water tanks and putting foam tubes around pipes you can prevent heat from being lost, meaning you have to fork out less on heating water. These simple steps will also mean the water stays hotter for longer. Foam pipes can be bought and cut to size for just a few pounds per metre. Jackets can also be picked up pretty cheaply.
Moving your sofa can help you keep a lid on energy costs – FACT
You may not realise that something as simple as shifting the position of your sofa can save you cash – but it genuinely can. If sofas or chairs are too close to a radiator, they will make it less efficient and stop heat from circulating around a room. Try rearranging your furniture a little, and see what a difference it makes to how warm your room feels. Also remember to bleed radiators regularly to keep them working efficiently.
Turning your thermostat down by one degree can save you money – FACT
In many households, the thermostat can be the source of arguments during the colder months, as it can be very tempting to notch it up a little. The problem is, every extra degree will cost you a few extra pounds a week.
A super simple way to save money is by turning the thermostat down by one degree. This could save you up to 10% a year on your bills. As a guide, you should aim for around 18°C. Anything higher will be more costly.
If you’re cold, stay away from the thermostat, and layer up in thick socks and chunky jumpers instead.
Electric heaters are always the most costly option – FICTION
You might assume that having an electric heater on while you are working will be expensive, but a portable heater pointed at your chair for a short period while you’re at your desk could work out cheaper than heating the whole house for hours on end. Better still, grab a blanket and hug a hot water bottle.
There’s nothing wrong with drying clothes on the radiator – FICTION
While you may be tempted to hang clothes on the radiator in the winter so that stuff dries more quickly, this will reduce the amount of heat released by the radiator. As a result, your boiler will have to run for longer – costing you more.
Getting my boiler serviced is an unnecessary expense – FICTION
An inefficient boiler can add a few hundred points to your annual bill. By getting your boiler serviced regularly – at a cost of around £60 – you can ensure it is reliable and efficient. This will reduce the likelihood of you having to fork out for costly repairs – or worse still, a new boiler, which could set you back more than £3,000. Always get a Gas Safe engineer to carry out the service.
A charger doesn’t use energy when not in use – FICTION
Some chargers, including certain older models, or those with display lights, can still use electricity, even when they are not plugged into a device.
Always unplug chargers, turn off tablets and laptops when you’ve finished using them – and ideally unplug them. Don’t keep charging devices once they’ve reached 100%, or leave them charging overnight.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, these steps could save you up to £30 a year.
Leaving lights on doesn’t make much of a difference – FICTION
When you move from one room to another it can be tempting just to keep lights switched on – but this is a waste of energy. By ensuring that each person in your household turns off every light when leaving a room, Energy Saving Trust figures suggest you can make savings of up to £15 a year. Further savings can be made by replacing inefficient light-bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Energy-saving measures will make a big dent in your wallet – FICTION
Taking steps to improve energy efficiency around your home doesn’t need to cost the earth. Simple affordable measures include stretching cling film or bubble wrap over the inside of windows to trap air and stop draughts (if you can’t stretch to double glazing), and buying a rug to cover your wooden floor (if you can’t afford plush carpets).