Did you know over fifty percent of the typical UK household’s energy bills are dedicated solely to heating and hot water expenses? While (thankfully) the cost of energy has fallen significantly since its peak in March 2022, many of us are still concerned with keeping our properties as warm as possible for as little as possible.
With winter well and truly here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 no-cost, low-cost, and investment actions you can take to make your home more energy-efficient during the coldest months of the year. Let’s dive in.
Get a Free Smart Meter
If you don’t already have one, installing a free smart meter is your first step to better understanding your home’s energy consumption. The in-home display allows you to track how much energy you are using per day and can help you see in real-time the cost of more energy-intensive activities (such as running a tumble dryer, for example).
Almost all UK energy providers will fit a smart meter at no extra cost, making it the obvious choice if you want to take control of your energy bills this winter. What’s more, you’ll be eligible for the National Grid’s flexibility scheme, an initiative that aims to pay households for saving electricity during peak periods this winter.
Read this handy guide by Money Saving Expert to learn more about the scheme and see what deals, discounts and incentives your energy provider offers.
Insulation & Draught Proofing
Draught-proofing is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to improve your property’s energy efficiency and keep your home warmer for less. Approximately a quarter of energy escapes through uninsulated roofs, windows, and doors each time we switch on the heating – making us feel colder quicker, not to mention wasting a lot of heat and money. You could save up to £50 per year by blocking and sealing unwanted gaps.
- Fitting door draught excluders throughout the house
- Plugging gaps around window panes
- Installing window film (a cheap form of temporary secondary glazing that helps stop heat from escaping through glass)
- Closing curtains when it’s dark to help trap heat inside your home
- Opening your curtains and blinds during the day to make use of the ‘greenhouse effect’ and allowing the sun’s energy to heat your property naturally
If you’re looking for more of an investment, however, fitting loft and wall insulation is an effective way to improve your property’s energy efficiency and can help drastically decrease your annual bills. While it can be costly, roof and wall insulation typically provides a return on investment in as little as two to four years, making it a great route if you plan to stay in your property for a long time (or even want to boost its value when it comes to selling).
Install Smart Heating Controls
The tech-savvy among us will be glad to hear that installing smart thermostats and heating controls can help save a whopping £50 per year in energy bills. Smart heating kits offer greater flexibility and functionality than standard heating controls – including the ability to review, change and set the temperature in your home via smartphone, even if you’re not there.
With many brands offering smart thermostats at affordable prices, this is a simple way to take greater control over your household’s energy consumption this winter.
Turn Off Standby Mode
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of energy you’re using is to turn your appliances off standby mode. Almost every electrical device in our homes can be safely turned off at the wall without interfering with its settings, and this simple action can save up to £35 a year on your energy bills – not to mention it’s completely free.
Switch to LED Lights
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if the average UK household switched to LED bulbs, they could save up to £40 per year on their energy bills. LED bulbs come in various sizes and fittings and are currently the most energy-efficient option available. Typically, they use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights and even last 25 times longer – making them the clear winner for those looking to upgrade their home this winter.
Get Your Boiler Serviced
An annual boiler service is essential to keep your boiler running safely and efficiently, but did you know it can save you money in the long run, too? Data by Which? revealed that only three in 10 boilers that are serviced annually require repairs in their first six years. For boilers serviced every two to five years, this figure then doubles to around six in 10 boilers. So, as well as ensuring your boiler is as energy-efficient as possible, an annual service will potentially spare you huge costs in the future, too.
For more information on boiler services, including costs and how to get the most bang for your buck, read this handy guide by Which?.
Reduce Your Boiler’s Temperature
Your boiler’s thermostat controls the flow temperature, which is the temperature of water it sends to the radiators in your home. The water cools as it flows through the radiators before it returns to the boiler. The temperature of the water at this stage is the return temperature.
Why does this matter? Lowering your boiler’s flow temperature also reduces the return temperature. All boilers are more energy-efficient when the return temperature is low, meaning this small action can save you considerable energy and money on your bills. How you do this depends on the type of boiler you have:
For Combi Boilers
By adjusting the ‘flow temperature’ setting on your combi boiler, you could save up to £60 per year on your energy bills. Reducing the flow temperature isn’t the same as lowering the thermostat, meaning it won’t noticeably reduce your home’s overall temperature but may take longer to heat up.
You can find more information about lowering the flow temperature on your combi boiler at Nesta.
For Conventional Boilers
By reducing the hot water tank temperature on your conventional boiler to 60°C, you could save up to £20 per year. If your boiler has a heating system with a separate hot water cylinder, you can turn down the temperature of the cylinder itself to avoid unnecessarily heating your water.
Typically, your hot water cylinder controls can be found one-third of the way up the tank. But, please be aware that the temperature should not be set below 60°C, as legionella bacteria can thrive in warm water stored beneath this temperature. You can find more information on the UKGOV website.
Bleed Your Radiators
Bleeding your radiators is a free and simple method to improve your household’s energy efficiency and a guaranteed way to make your home feel warmer this winter. It works by removing pockets of air which build up in radiators over time, causing cold spots and using more energy than needed to heat up effectively.
You can find a step-by-step guide to bleeding your radiators on E.ON Energy.
Optimise Your Water Use
Something as simple as reducing your shower to four minutes could save the average household up to £95 per year in energy bills. While for bath lovers, swapping one bath a week for a four-minute shower saves an average of £20 a year – but, if a bath is a must, even reducing the volume by one inch will save 15 litres of water, making your daily ritual more energy efficient and cost-effective, too.
Other easy ways to save water include:
- Only boiling the exact amount you need for your cuppa
- Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth
- Reusing the water from your hot water bottle to feed your house plants
- Only running your dishwasher once it’s full
- Using a basin when washing dishes by hand
Watch Your Washing Machine
With the mucky weather and dipping temps, winter can often mean more laundry and higher bills. An easy way to improve your home’s energy consumption is to look at the frequency and settings of your washing machine. For example, did you know you can save up to £34 per year by simply:
- Running your washing machine at 30°C
- Reducing the number of loads you do per week by one for an entire year
- Ensuring that the drum is full before running a load
Even simple steps like these can significantly affect your energy efficiency and pocket this winter.
Thinking of Selling Your Property?
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