Saving money at home this winter

Saving money at home this winter

Protect yourself from the cold at home – and save money as well as being green!

The prolonged cold spell at the start of this winter reminded us all of the importance of staying warm at home – as cheaply as possible.

Here are some suggestions for making sure you can keep your home warm as cheaply (and greenly) as possible. Let us know your tips too – we offer £100 for every Star Letter we publish.

Electricity and gas supplies

  • Make sure you’re getting good value on your electricity and gas. Use an internet comparison site such as uswitch.com or gocompare.com to compare your tariff with those offered by other suppliers. It’s easy to change suppliers – many enable you to do so online.
  • Consider choosing a ‘dual fuel’ deal – where you buy both electricity and gas from the same supplier. This often works out cheaper than buying your supplies from different providers.
  • Switching to direct debit and paperless billing often reduces costs – most companies offer discounts to customers who sign up for these options.
  • Make sure your provider bases your charges on actual readings, rather than estimates. This will make sure you’re only charged for the energy you use – and because you know exactly how much energy you’re using, you’ll be able to cut down if you need to.
  • Get a home energy monitor – available for around £40 from electronics shops. When you attach it to your mains supply, this device monitors your total home energy use, helping you become more aware of your consumption and where you could cut down.

Boilers

  • If your old boiler is rated a poor ‘G’ level in terms of efficiency, consider investing in a new boiler– you could save up to £255 a year by replacing it with a new A-rated energy-efficient one, meaning that you would save money over the lifetime of your new boiler even before taking into consideration expensive repair bills often needed to repair older boilers.
  • Skipping your boiler’s annual service is a false economy, both in terms of finances and personal safety. Ensure you get it serviced annually to help avoid repair bills that will cost more in the long run. For safety, always use a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
  • Turning your thermostat down by just 1°C could save you up to £55 a year on your heating bills.

Insulation

  • Reducing heat loss from your home by preventing draughts is one of the easiest ways to reduce your heating bill. To make sure cold air doesn’t get in through gaps around windows and doors,fit draught excluders, window and door tapes and a letterbox cover, all cheaply available from DIY stores – you could save £25 a year on your heating bills. You could also prevent draughts through gaps in floorboards and skirting boards by filling them with sealant, beading and even newspaper.
  • Cold air can seep in through windows, so fit full-length lined curtains to keep the cold at bay – or use thermal blinds, which have the added benefit of helping to keep your home cool in summer as well.
  • Reduce the risk of heat loss through gaps in exposed floorboards by fitting carpets or rugs – which will also make your feet feel warmer on cold mornings!
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs to light your home during the long evenings. They last around ten times as long and each bulb you fit could save around £40 over its lifetime.

Homes can loose 25% of their heat through the loft

  • Insulate your water tanks and pipes (especially those in roof voids or close to exterior walls), to prevent heat loss and reduce the risk of them freezing and bursting – which can cause expensive damage. A 75mm insulating jacket for a hot water tank costs around £20 to buy, can be self-installed (or easily fitted by a professional) and could save you at least £30 on your annual heating bill.
  • Homes can lose 25% of their heat through the roof, so make sure your loft is insulated. A 270mm layer of insulation typically costs around £250 to have professionally fitted and could reduce your bills by £150 a year, meaning that within two years you could recoup your original outlay.
  • Uninsulated walls are a big source of heat loss. Having your wall cavities professionally filled costs around £130 for a semi-detached house and could save you around £115 each year – meaning you could recoup your outlay in just over a year.
  • You may be eligible for a grant or a discount if installing insulation in your loft or wall cavities – complete the free home energy check on the Energy Saving Trust’s website to find out.
  • Consider having double-glazing fitted – the outlay can be expensive, but it’s long-lasting and cuts heat loss through windows by 50%, which could reduce your heating bill by around £140 a year.

Outside

  • Don’t forget the exterior of your home – regularly inspect the outside of your house to help you spot and prevent expensive problems in the future. Make sure guttering and pipes are secure, and are free of debris that could create a blockage that would be expensive to fix. Ensure that roof tiles, brickwork and timbers are sound and arrange for any repairs using people affiliated to a reputable organisation such as the Federation of Master Builders.
  • All price comparisons are taken from The Energy Saving Trust’s website. The Energy Saving Trust is a non-profit organisation that provides free and impartial advice on how to stop wasting energy.
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