Top ten tips for how to save money this winter
Now that the longer, colder and darker nights are here, we have compiled a list of tips, designed to help you save money on heating and other household expenditure this winter. If you have a tip that is not mentioned here, please do share it with us on our Facebook or Twitter page.
Turn everything off at the plug.
Leaving devices and appliances on standby is costing you money. According to the Energy Saving Trust study ‘Powering the Nation’, between 9-16% of the electricity consumed in homes is powering appliances in standby mode, in other words, when they are not in use. The Government’s Household Electricity Survey estimated that, for the typical household, this equates to 64 kWh/year, or the equivalent of boiling 376 kettles. So, get into the habit of turning everything off at the plug.
Turn your thermostat down
According to the Energy Saving Trust, turning down a thermostat by just one degree will save the typical UK homeowner £75 a year, so try turning it down to determine the temperature at which you are comfortable. It might be a lower than you think.
However, be aware that, in the event of a freeze, you will need to leave your heating on to prevent pipes bursting. Check your home insurance policy to see if it specifies a particular temperature (you will need to adhere to this or risk your policy being invalidated) but a general rule of thumb is 12- 15°C. A good precaution is to know where your stopcock is (the valve that turns off the water) as this may limit the water damage to your home if pipes do burst.
Don’t heat areas that you don’t use
If you have a spare room, or an area that you’re not using in winter, such as a conservatory, turn the radiators off and close the door. If a freeze is forecast, make sure the room is heated to 12-15°C (as per the tip above). You can prevent the cold escaping into the rest of the house by using a draft excluder.
Also, you can keep temperatures in hallways and corridors lower than the rest of the house as you are typically not spending a lot of time in them.
Insulate your home
The more heat escapes from your home, the more you will need to pay to keep warm, so it makes sense to insulate inside and out. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the savings of insulating your home could be up to £290 every year. If you don’t have loft or cavity wall insulation, do some research to see if you qualify for free insulation from British Gas. As eligibility is based on your home, not your income, you don’t have to be on benefits to qualify, and your home could be owned or rented by you.
To check your suitability, click here
It also makes sense to insulate inside your home: block drafts under doors with draft excluders, seal gaps in floors and around windows, close curtains when it gets dark (but not before as the light in the day may help to warm your home) and make sure you keep your internal doors closed.
Do essential maintenance jobs
Bleeding radiators is a once a year job that can save you energy and cut your bills. You will know if your radiators need bleeding (that is, if that have trapped air or gas inside that needs to be released) if they are colder at the top than at the bottom. You will need to buy a radiator key for the job, which can be picked up from a DIY store.
You will be able to get advice on the steps to bleeding a radiator from your DIY store or from an online video, such as this one. If you don’t feel confident about what you’re doing, stop and get advice from a qualified heating engineer.
Another job that may save you money is to clear out your guttering. If ice forms around the leaves and other debris that may have gathered there, it can lead to water seeping into your home.
Keep radiators clear
To make sure the warmth flows from your radiators around the room, it is necessary to keep radiators clear from obstructions. This includes curtains, and items placed on radiators to dry or be warmed up.
If you have furniture against or very near to your radiators, you may be affecting the flow of heat, making it harder – and more expensive – to heat your rooms. Make sure that there is nothing obstructing your radiators, even if it affects the layout of your room. You will be able to move the furniture back in the warmer months when the radiators are switched off.
Check you’re getting the best deal on energy
Call your current supplier and check if you are on the cheapest tariff. If you’re not, they can place you on a better tariff immediately. If you are, you can check how competitive this is by using an energy price comparison company. They can tell you the cheapest tariffs for your area (either online or by phone) so that you can compare this to your current deal.
If you do decide to switch, the process is quick and free. You will need to know your typical usage (check your current energy bill if you do not know) and fill in an application form. The energy provider will then sort out the switch for you.
Use kitchen appliances carefully
The energy saving trust estimates that you can save £43 a year by using kitchen appliances more carefully. This figure includes boiling only the water you require, rather than a full kettle (saving £7), setting your washing machine to 30°C (saving £6) and using a washing up bowl rather than a running tap (saving £30).
Find out if you are entitled to help with winter fuel bills
If you, or someone in your household, was born on or before 5 July 1952 and gets a state pension, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance it is possible to receive a winter fuel payment up to £300. Those that qualify will also receive £25 for every seven days that the local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of 0°C or below between 1 November and 31 March 2015.