Save money on your heating bills: Some easy ways to keep warm this winter

save money on your heating billsThe current early cold snap in the UK has been rather a shock to the system! The heating has been on a lot at Shoestring Cottage. With the prospect of larger bills looming now that winter is upon us, how can you save money on your heating bills?

Dire consequences

I am not going to go radical and tell you to turn it off all together and wear a hair shirt. We tried the no heating/lots of layers approach and it had dire consequences. We ended up with damp walls and mould growing all over the house.

Unless you are on an extremely low income (in which case, see if you qualify for extra help here), you are better to set it to come on for a period morning and evening, and then top up as you need it.

I find even if the house gets really cold my modern boiler soon gets it warm. If you can work at keeping the heat in, you won’t need to have your heating running constantly.

Insulating to save money on your heating bills

It is so important to insulate your house as much as you possibly can to keep the heat in. You don’t want to heat the house just to feel it disappearing through the roof.

We have a thick layer of insulation on our roof space. We also had the wall cavities filled. We were fortunate that at the time we were with British Gas, who were running a scheme giving both to customers for free. Some energy providers are still offering this for nothing, so check with yours. Money Saving Expert has an interesting article on this – in some cases you can also get a new boiler for free.

Thermal curtain linings

Our windows are double glazed but it is very old glazing. Replacing all of the windows with state of the art triple glazing, or even just better double glazing, is not an option. We have found that using thermal linings on our already thick curtains makes a huge difference.

A door curtain can also help to keep the draughts at bay. We have three  sets in our chilly back room – 3 external doors in one room!!

Insulated wallpaper

We also did something in the back room that has made the most amazing difference. Insulated wallpaper. It really keeps the heat in. I wasn’t sure that what is basically lining paper with polystyrene stuck to it could do the job but it does.

It is a devil to cut and almost made me cry when I papered the small downstairs loo (you can see what we did here). So awkward! Well worth it though. It has another useful advantage if your plaster isn’t great as it covers up all the lumps and bumps.

I can’t recommend this stuff enough and I am sure it will help you to save money on your heating bills.

Foiled again

save money on your heating bills photo of a wood burnerRadiator foil is inexpensive and helps push the heat back into the house rather than out through your walls. We put this in the cold back room too and will use some more in the lounge when we redecorate in the new year.

We are hugely fortunate to also have a wood burner in place this winter. It is lovely! If it is just us at home we cosy up in front of that and don’t bother to heat the rest of the house. I think this will make a difference to our heating bills, although it was expensive to buy and fit.

So, Shoestring Cottage is pretty warm and cosy. We do still have our layers and slippers to hand. I refuse to have the heating blasting out whilst everyone is walking around in shorts and T-shirts! We also have blankets and throws on all of the sofas in case anyone is feeling chilly.

What are you doing to save money on your heating bills?


14 thoughts on “Save money on your heating bills: Some easy ways to keep warm this winter

  1. All good information as always, Jane.
    One thing we did this year was to change the door ‘furniture’ for a keyhole with an escutcheon; I”m not explaining this very well, but we now have keyholes on both back and front doors that have abrass flaps over them and so when it’s really cold, we remove the keys (which we put in a safe place where we know to find it in an emergency; not far from the door) and the flaps go over the holes where the wind once whistled through. This has made a big difference to the warmth in the hall and the kitchen.
    We also replaced the draft excluder around the front and back doors – metal, with soft material against which the doors close. This is unobtrusive but has also made a tremendous difference (we have a solid wood front door, not a modern plastic replacement door.) We also have thick curtains at the hall window, and a Venetian blind (which we close at night) on the back of the front door, it’s surprising how much warmer even a simple blind makes.
    I would also say that having good, warming food is essential in very cold weather (soups and stews, for example). I know all food is turned into calories, i.e. fuel, but I am convinced that a warm soup or stew is nicer than a cold salad at this time of the year; just the warmth of it in the mouth is more pleasant when it’s a very cold day.
    Let’s not forget the humble how water bottle. We often have these on our knees or at our backs when sitting watching TV or reading. Combined with a light rug around our legs, we are nice and cosy (this in addition to central heating of course, but we don’t have it so high as to make the air feel ‘stuffy’.) And we use an electric mattress cover on our bed at night, so that the bed is cosy to get into. If you are warm to start. Plus a very light wool throw over the duvet in the depths of winter also makes the bed more cosy.
    Margaret P

  2. Our house is so cold downstairs. It’s open plan too which doesn’t help because if anyone opens the front door the cold air flows throughout!
    It’s a 1930s detached, without cavity walls so just a single layer of bricks between us and the elements and very high ceilings (at least 10-12 feet high!
    There is a fireplace in the front room which belches out cold air, but we can’t stuff something up there as it has a gas fire so need the ventilation!
    The double glazing is also old now too – the draught coming from below the curtains is unbelievable!

    The plan is to save for new double glazing throughout, but as we need to do something with the flooring downstairs before anything else (it’s a bit of a patchwork after decorating) we’re seriously considering getting underfloor heating after a plumber friend said it’s so efficient it reaches upstairs too! Seeing as it’s our feet that are always cold, thanks to the fireplace and windows, it makes a lot of sense to look into it first.

    • When we were dog sitting they had under floor heating and it was so nice! I would go for it.

  3. I often remember my cold childhood, winters only. And there was no snow so probably no-where like a winter in the British Isles. I agree with Margaret about warm food in winter, cold food in winter depresses me. It is now law to insulate all dwellings, old or new, in New Zealand, as we get mould here, which makes people sick, and landlords were immune to tenants suffering. So I noticed how lack of heating brought out the mould in your home. … then there is the scrubbing and cleaning of it… ugh. For the past 10 years when I have rented, it has been the bane of my rental life. Love all your heating remedies.

  4. A good thick ‘in the house’ cardigan is essential; something that you can throw on o really anything. I also have a soft furry throw on the back of the chair. We had a new boiler in the spring so this is our first winter with it. It should be a lot more than fficient than the old one which was twenty years old.
    Also, making the house seem cosy with lamps helps with feeling warm even if it’s not necessarily warmer.

  5. Have you considered solar panels? We have gas heating, hot water and stove, but got solar for the summer aircon . When the hot water dies I’ll replace with electric, and would happily go reverse cycle for heating and electric oven, but I’d still have to have a gas cooktop. There’s a lot of spouting going on at the moment in Victoria about the possibility of outages this summer, but I got the solar purely to save money.

  6. single glazing and large French doors in sitting room – freezing . Unfortunately no money to replace just yet – any ideas anyone>

    • Gill -2 ideas: charity shop extra pair of curtains behind your existing ones should cut down on draughts and not spoil your decor if they are a different colour! I have not used it, but there are various types of special ‘cling film’ for windows (B & Q, ebay) which claim to work to exclude draughts – only a few pounds so possibly worth a try. Just thought of a third – how about a sausage shaped draught excluder for the bottom of the French doors? Take care not to block up all air vents if required for safety -gas fire, woodburner etc.

    • When you have to sit in there, Gill, perhaps you could snuggle into sleeping bags, or have fleeces around you and hot water bottles? And hot drinks, too. I remember the cold winter of 1963 in my parents hotel – they had only just bought it – and it had no central heating and single glazed ill-fitting windows through which the wind howled, it faced the sea! I have bever been so cold in my life! We used to wrap ourselves in blankets, and there was just one little 2-bar gas fire in a huge room. It was quite medieval! If you have no money to replace the windows and the French doors, you won’t have any for good thick curtains, either, so just wrap yourselves, or perhaps use another room if you have one.
      Margaret P

  7. This post brings back so many memories for me. As a teenager I lived in England with my military family in the late 50’s, when we supplemented our coal fires with Aladdin stoves (that lovely smell!), hot water bottles, and many M&S wooly things. We also bathed only once a week (gasp!) because the bathroom had to be heated with the stove, and that certainly wasn’t going to be blazing all the time. Partly we regarded it as a great adventure to live in such a different culture, but I think we also adapted. It was a bit of a shock when we came back to the over-heated US, and I felt like I could never get a breath of fresh air!

    Later, I lived with my own small family in Montana, where an entire week of temps. not rising above 0 degrees Fahrenheit is not unheard of, and did my best to keep Brother Cold out of the house, on a very limited budget. Definitely put a curtain over all doors (it looks rather elegant), but don’t splurge on buying special drapes. I used woolen yardage that I could buy at a small outlet store and just clipped it to a curtain rod. I still think Black Watch tartan curtains are tres chic. Ragged old towels rolled up can sit on a windowsill to block the draft. And in dire circumstances, wearing a wooly hat to bed definitely conserves body heat. My brave son did that for several years before I got up the gumption to make Roman blinds for his bedroom windows (tedious, but doesn’t take much fabric and makes a huge difference.) Thanks for letting me natter on, and good luck with your challenges. (By the way dropcloths used when painting are a great source of heavy canvas yardage to cover the drafty bits.)

  8. Jane your woodburner will definitely save money on your heating bills,I can personally testify to that. I only put the heating on for half an hour in the evening just to take the chill off the bedrooms.I light the burner and open the main door from the downstairs to upper part of the house. My heating bill have gone down by 70%. The trouble is that I have become a wood collector and can’t pass any pieces of broken branches etc without trying to drag it back to my car lol! x

Comments are closed.