The cost of living in the UK has gone up massively. We have never been more sharply aware of it than this time of year when the evenings get shorter and we think about turning on our central heating. Fortunately, there are loads of things you can do to save money this winter. Here are 20 different ways how to save money on heating and energy bills.
How to save money on heating
Wear more clothes
This is an obvious one, but for good reason – the more you wear, the less you’ll feel the cold. An extra T-shirt, an extra jumper, another pair of socks, a pair of long johns underneath your trousers. All of these layers add vital insulation and keep your body heat in you. In Germany, there’s an expression: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”. Whatever you think of Germans or Germany, you can’t pretend that there isn’t a truth in that!
Wear indoor shoes to save money on heating bills
Whenever your feet touch a surface that’s cooler than you, your body heat gets drawn out of you. Think about what’s happening when you move around the house barefoot or in socks – everywhere you go and anything you do, you’re losing heat. A good pair of slippers or indoor shoes will instantly act as a barrier between you and the floor, and stop that heat from leaving.
Make sure extractor vents are working properly
On extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, there’s likely to be a vent that allows steam and air to exit the property only when the fan is on. If the vent has malfunctioned – the shutters on it outside are jammed open – then the heat in your home will leak out through this pipe. Getting it fixed will stop an open 6-inch pipe from bringing cold air into your home.
Turn off lights
Turn off all lights in rooms that you’re not using. Unless it’s for security reasons like leaving a light on when your home is empty in order to deter burglars, there’s really no point paying to light a room that no one’s in and no one’s using.
Don’t overfill the kettle
Pay attention to how much you fill the kettle when making hot drinks. In most cases, the minimum amount will be more than enough for a cup of tea, or perhaps even two, depending on the size of the cup. The minimum amount is typically just enough to cover the element. There’s no point paying to boil water that you will either leave to get cold again or pour down the drain.
Insulate your loft to save money on heating bills
Most of us know that heat rises, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that an enormous amount of heat is lost via the ceiling of your home. Loft insulating can help you save hundreds on your heating bills and will pay for itself many times over. It will also pay dividends in the warmer months too, protecting the upstairs rooms in your home from the heat of the loft in the summer. Don’t put any insulation underneath water tanks, such as the cold water storage cistern and feed and expansion cistern, as the heat from below prevents them from freezing.
Insulate pipes and tanks
You should absolutely insulate the cold water tank and central heating header tank, as well as any pipes in the loft space. This serves two purposes: it stops them from freezing and it stops them from being a source of heat loss. This is especially necessary if you have hot water installations in the loft, such as the boiler or a hot water cylinder.
Insulate the hot water cylinder
Modern hot water cylinders are covered in a layer of foam insulation. If yours is bare copper, you should get an insulating jacket from a hardware store so that the hot water stays hot for as long as possible. However, you should definitely keep the cylinder thermostat to 55 – 60 degrees. Even if it doesn’t save money on your heating, this is still a good use of money, as anything cooler can encourage the growth of the bacteria which cause Legionnaires’ disease.
Don’t leave things on standby
Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby, such as your TV. It’s still consuming electricity, so switch it off properly via its on-off switch when you’re not watching it.
Unplug/switch off electrical appliances
Some electrical appliances may draw power, even when they are apparently switched off. You can prevent this and save money by switching them off at the socket, or unplugging them altogether.
Close doors and windows to save money on heating bills
Close doors and windows to keep heat indoors, or within the room you’re using. Alternatively, keep the doors of cooler rooms closed so they don’t draw heat away from the rooms you want to be warmer. For example, bedrooms should usually be a couple of degrees cooler than the main living area of the house, and bathrooms should be slightly warmer. Keep their doors closed so that heat isn’t lost or wasted trying to heat a room to the wrong temperature.
Use the microwave instead of the oven
Your microwave uses significantly less energy than the hob or your oven, so it’s definitely worth using whenever you can. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s also quicker.
Use a slow cooker
If you’d prefer not to use a microwave, then a slow cooker is a really energy-friendly way of cooking. They don’t use much more energy than a traditional filament light bulb. Plus, you can just leave them to get on with cooking your food, so you don’t have to stay in the kitchen, standing at the hob.
Seal gaps in the home
Use draft excluders and insulation tape to cover every gap in your home where heat can escape. Obvious examples are underneath doors and around windows, and gaps in floorboards and around letter boxes.
Make sure the washing machine is full
Get the most out of the energy your washing machine uses, and only use it when you have a full load.
Wash on cooler settings
It goes without saying that the lower the temperature on your washing machine, the more money you’ll save on your energy bills. According to the consumer magazine Which, going from 40 to 20 degrees reduced running costs by over 60%, and all washing machines sold in the UK since 2013 must have a 20°C wash option, so why not take advantage of this?
Shower instead of taking a bath
Taking a shower uses significantly less water and energy than a hot bath. For a lot of people, it’s also quicker!
Dry laundry outside
It may be cool outside, but so long as it’s dry, drying your clothes outside will always be more energy efficient than using the tumble dryer.