Winter can be an expensive season. Short, dark days and the ever-present cold means that lights are turned on earlier and, more importantly, the heating is kept on for longer. But there are a few simple steps that can be taken to keep the home and its occupants warm and the heating bills down.
Put on an extra layer of clothes and turn down the heating thermostat. It has been estimated that even turning the thermostat down by 1° can reduce a heating bill by 3%. If the heating is turned down by 10° during the day when most people are at work, and again during the night, a heating bill could be reduced by as much as 14%. Invest in a ‘smart’ thermostat that can be programmed to reduce the temperature at selected times.
Use curtains and blinds wisely. Open them wide for rooms that are south facing to trap the available sunlight that helps to warm the room during the day. Draw them for the evening, helping to keep the warmth inside the room rather than bleeding out through the windows. Another excellent window dressing, which works well for the spring and summer months, as well as the winter, is shutters. Install custom shutters that will ensure a tight fit around the windows, which will help to insulate the room.
Move the furniture if items are covering radiators or heating vents, so that they do not reduce the heat flow. Also, pull sofas and chairs away from outside walls to avoid drafts for the sitters. Dust off the radiators and ventilator grilles, as the dust will not only give off an unpleasant smell as it ‘burns off’ when the heating is turned on, but it also acts as a barrier, affecting the heat level of the room.
Heat rises, so close the doors on any rooms that are not in use. It is a waste of heat and money to warm bedrooms on the top floor of a home if they are not being used during the day.
Statistics have shown that a single fan can expel a whole houseful of warmth in just one hour if left on, so turn off fans in the bathroom and kitchen areas once they have finished doing their job.
More costly measures
Insulation is the best way to use energy efficiently. It does involve an initial expensive outlay, but the long-term benefits will be lower heating bills and a warmer home. The most important places to insulate are the attic or loft space, and the basement and other crawl spaces. Do not forget the windows, as a great deal of heat can be lost through cracks and gaps. Close them up with putty or a foam sealant.
Ensure the furnace is working correctly by having it serviced before the cold weather sets in. Also, change the air filters when necessary, as a clogged up filter could stop the furnace from working altogether. If the hot water cylinder is in the loft space wrap it in a thermal jacket, and lag the pipes to protect them against frost and reduce the heat loss.