9 ways to keep your house warm this winter
Hopefully you had your boiler serviced during the summer, so your boiler is working efficiently and well providing the heat you need.
But even the most efficient boilers use a lot of fuel. It’s been estimated that home heating counts for approximately 70% of household energy use.
So if you can save a little energy whilst keeping nice and warm – that’s a welcome boost to the bank balance.
What are the low cost things you can do that will really make a difference to how warm your house is – and how much money it costs to keep it that way?
Here are ten of the best.
1. Put reflectors behind the radiators.
Reflectors are simply low-cost panels of highly reflective material. A lot of the heat generated by your radiators gets absorbed by the walls rather than contributing to heating the room. Reflectors get more of the heat going inwards rather than being lost in the fabric of the building.
2. Make the most of the sunlight
Make sure you open all the curtains during the day when the natural sunlight – even when there’s not as much of it as you would like – will play a part in heating the house. Making use of natural sunlight means your heating system won’t have to work so hard to reach your desired temperature.
3. But work those curtains as soon as it’s dark
Having the curtains pulled isolates another layer of air between the room and the window, and that will help to reduce heat loss. If the curtains are thick and heavy, then that’s all the better. But even lighter curtains will help.
4. If you’re not using the fireplace, then block air from being lost up the chimney
Having an open chimney can be a significant source of heat loss – because warm air rises and it has a one-way route straight out of your house. You can buy low-cost chimney balloons which you can inflate to block the space, whilst remaining out of sight. Just make sure that, if you decide to light that fire at some point, you remove the balloon first. And on Christmas Eve, of course.
5. Make a winning play in the game of drafts
Drafts will make your house feel dramatically colder than it actually is. When it’s blowing a gale outside, go around all the potential draft sources with a lit candle and see where the wind is breaching your defences. Commonly, keyholes are a culprit (easily covered with a sliding disc), as are the edges of doors (rubber edging). In the 1980s we were all using doggie doorstops – long cushions shaped like sausage dogs that were designed to stop under-door drafts. If you get drafts, you don’t need something shaped like a dog to do the trick. Just improvise.
6. Keep the radiators clear
Lots of times we end up putting furniture and other objects in front of radiators because we’re trying to make best use of space in the room. But when the weather turns cold, it’s worth making a certain amount of compromise – because radiators will heat the space much more efficiently if half of their heat isn’t going into making the backs of chairs or bookcases warm. The same goes for avoiding the temptation to dry towels of other things on the radiators themselves. If heat is being used raising the temperature of towels, that heat isn’t making it into the room. And that particularly goes for double radiators, which work well because the air between the two heated surfaces rises. It can’t if its way is blocked by a towel.
7. Make sure the radiators are hot to the top
After a period of time, air gets into the best of hot water systems and gradually fills space in the radiators. Water is a much more efficient conductor of heat than air, as you’ll realise when you start to notice that the bottom of the radiator is hot, but the top is not.
Use a simple bleed key to remove the air from the system and ensure that the hot water fills the whole of the radiator.
8. Check above and below for other routes that heat can use to exit
If you have bare floorboards, they may be helping up to 10% heat loss. Cover them with rugs or other coverings during the cold weather – not only will it stop heat loss, but it will make the house feel more cosy as well. Likewise, check the loft hatch if you have one and make sure that it isn’t another route for the hot air to rise out of your reach. For a quick fix, simply cover the gaps with masking tape.
9. Use the timer smartly
It’s much better to anticipate when you’ll need the house to be warm and to set the timer accordingly than it is to find yourself in a cold house and end up cranking up the thermostat in the hope that this will mean the house heats more quickly (it doesn’t, but it means you’ll pay a lot more heating the house to a higher temperature than you need). Set the timer to make the most of the time when you’re actually expecting to be home.
These are some low-cost ways that will help to make a real difference this winter. Of course, sometimes the money is worth the investment as well. If you don’t have loft insulation or double-glazing on your windows, it will make a huge difference over a number of years if you get it fitted. And if your boiler is over ten years old, you’ll probably find that a new, modern one will be much more energy efficient than what you have.
But it’s amazing just how much difference you can make with very little spending at all.