Save energy, save money – hot tips for the home

To keep your energy bills low you need to minimise how much energy you’re using and make your home as energy efficient as possible.

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There are some big jobs you can undertake, such as installing double glazing, overhauling your old heating system or fitting insulation. But given that winter is rudely elbowing autumn out of the way early this year, it might not be possible to get the work done before the cold weather really bites.

And with Christmas fast approaching, a major project such as this might prove too much of a strain on your finances.

So, here are some alternative, cheaper ways to cut your energy usage and still stay warm…

Fit a chimney balloon

If you’ve an unused open fireplace you could be losing untold amounts of heat through the chimney. So it’s worth fitting a chimney balloon, which will not only stop any heat escaping, it’ll also stop cold air getting in.

Made from a special laminate (not just any old balloon will do!), chimney balloons cost about £20. You simply place it at the bottom of the flue and inflate it to keep heat in and draughts out – just make sure you remove it if you ever light a fire!

Exclude mini draughts

We all know to cut out the big draughts with draught excluders and thick curtains, but what about all those mini-draughts that come through cat flaps, letter boxes and even keyholes? So if you have air coming in through the letter box, fit a letter box brush – it might annoy the postie but they consider it just another occupational hazard.

You should also cover any cat flaps with a piece of blanket, or fill them with woollen insulation when not in use, and also cover any keyholes by fitting keyhole escutcheon plates with covers. And if you want to locate any other small draughts, light a candle and move it along the joints in doors and windows: if it flickers, you have a draught.

Clear your radiators

If you constantly have items hanging over your radiators or have pieces of furniture in front of them, you’re limiting their effectiveness. So move furniture from in front of them (if only by a few inches) and get a maiden to dry your clothes on.

It might also be worth fitting some reflective material (such as aluminium foil) behind your radiators to deflect heat back into the room and stop it being absorbed by the outer wall. And fitting a shelf above your radiator can also help to deflect heat back into the room instead of just going straight up to the ceiling.

Long curtains on a window above a radiator should be tucked behind it when close, not left to flop over the front. And if you’ve got curtains that aren’t long enough to tuck behind, think about getting some that will reach. Heat rises, and it’s wasteful to let it rise against the glass and be lost to the room.

* Up to 10% can save at least £244.64, MoneySupermarket data based on sales. June 2013

And while we’re looking into the topic of windows…

Watch your windows

Your windows are key to having an energy efficient home, and if you can’t afford double glazing then try and fake it by fixing special film to the glass using a hair dryer. Packs of this film can be bought for about £15 and should be enough to cover the windows of a typical house.

Alternatively, you could try rubbing a little washing up liquid on your windows before attaching some bubblewrap, it should have pretty much the same effect. But on the downside will mean you probably won’t be able to look out of your windows!

Fitting thick curtains to all windows, or lining any existing curtains, and closing them at dusk is also a great way to keep heat in and cold out – but make sure you keep any curtains open during the day to let as much natural light, and heat, in which will be absorbed by your house.

Shut up and cover up

Only heat rooms in use and make sure rooms not in use have their doors closed. This stops cold air moving to the rest of the house and also means you have a smaller area to heat.

Where possible, cover up bare floorboards as floors that are not insulated can account for as much as 10% of heat loss. If you can’t cover up your floorboards, make sure any gaps are filled with clear silicone, and do the same around skirting boards.

You should also make sure loft hatches are properly insulated. If there are any gaps you can fill them with the sort of self-adhesive strips you’d use on windows.

Get your timing right

Set your heating to come on in time for you returning home. This will mean the house is kept at a steady temperature and you won’t feel the need to whack the heating up when you get in.

And try to drop the thermostat by one degree. You probably won’t notice a difference and this can be a major money-saver, amazingly to the tune of around £65 per year.

Make your appliances energy efficient

If you’ve not got the money to upgrade to energy efficient appliances, make sure the ones you do have aren’t working harder than necessary. Fill up otherwise empty fridges with bottles of tap water so they’re not working hard to cool empty spaces. The same goes for freezers – ideally they should both always be about three-quarters full.

And dust off the coils and elements at the back of your fridge as a build-up can reduce efficiency by as much as 25%. (As ever, take care with such tasks – switch off the power and get help moving bulky and heavy objects.)

We’ve all heard the old tip on only boiling as much water as you need in a kettle, but it might be worth ditching the kettle completely and instead boiling water in a pan on the gas hob as gas is often cheaper than electricity.

For more tips on how to make your home energy efficient, read Rachel’s article How to have an energy efficient home and watch Kevin’s video below.

And if you haven’t switched energy provider yet, take five minutes to visit our energy channel and start saving money.

Do you have any top tips to make your home more energy efficient? Let us know on Twitter @MoneySuperMkt using the hashtag #MSMEnergyTips

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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