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?

 

Baby, it’s cold outside

Those of you based in the UK know that yesterday morning it suddenly got very cold! We have had a mild Autumn so far and it is feeling like a horrible shock to me. I have barely had the heating on up to now, but last night I had it on full blast and ended up curled up in bed with my fleecy pyjamas on at 9.30! It doesn’t help that I am full of cold and feeling sorry for myself I am sure.

So, what to do? I don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on heating this year. But how to make Shoestring Cottage feel warmer without a major investment?

radiator foilWe have already insulated the house by getting the loft done with super thick insulation and the wall cavities filled. However, the loft hatch is not insulated. We have some spare so the first thing will be to cut a square of insulation material and tack it on to the loft side of the hatch. That should cut out some drafts coming down from the roof space.

I also think we need to get some reflective foil on the back of some of the radiators. This is available at £7 a roll (£1.40 a metre) from B&Q. I just You Tubed how to fit it and it seemed pretty straightforward.

I bought a lined curtain for the front door a few years ago but never put it up, mainly because the special hinged curtain rails that ensure the curtain rail opens with the door are quite expensive. I think I need to revisit this idea, as we get a lot of cold air coming in through this particular door. In addition, Wickes sell brush draught excluders for doors that you fit around the frame. I will  drag Mr S along to inspect those. They only cost £11.99 for a full door’s worth.

I would love to replace all of the very ancient and fairly inadequate double glazing, but that kind of expenditure is not an option. All of the curtains in the house are lined already. I could replace with thermal linings but that is going to be expensive and time consuming. I will do this but not immediately. It will have to be done bit by bit. I don’t have a sewing maching so I will have to sew extra linings in by hand. Wickes sell secondary glazing film which has good reviews on their website. This is only £6.89 for 6 square metres which is good value I think, although it looks as if it might be tricky to fit on larger windows. If it gets really cold this winter, I have a box of bubble wrap in the shed – I will be taping that to the coldest windows to reduce the draughts!!

I also need to invest in a few more rugs. There are very few carpets in the house which is practical but means the floors are quite cold under your feet. I will keep an eye out for suitable bargains.

I found a good body warmer recently on eBay for a couple of pounds. I knew it would be handy and I was right. I am wearing it now with my fur lined slippers. I also have a vest and a jumper on. As it gets colder I will be layering up rather than immediately putting on the heating and will encourage my family to do the same. DD3 doesn’t feel the cold like me though. I will be huddling under a blanket whilst she is walking about in her T-shirt! The benefits of youth I think.

I never have the heating on at night. The cats each have a domed basket to hide in (or they sleep with me) and we all have extra blankets on the beds. I also have a blanket on the sofa to hide under whilst watching TV.

Have the temperatures fallen where you are? How do you keep your house warm and cosy?

Time for an Energy Saving Audit

lights outLike everyone else, I am slightly terrified that the energy companies keep putting up their prices.

Fortunately I took advice from MoneySavingExpert.com and managed to freeze mine for a couple of years some time ago. I try to do as much as possible to keep my bills low and use as little gas and electricity as I can, but I think it is time for an audit.

I have been exploring various websites for advice and come up with the following checklist:

1) Use energy saving bulbs (I am guessing we are all doing this, since it is difficult to buy the old kind now). Check
2) Try a cooler wash when doing the laundry –  30 degrees. I tend to use 40 degrees for everything, and a quick wash when most items aren’t too grubby. Will try a 30 degree wash from now.
3) Tumble dryers? Forget them! Use airers or hang outside on a sunny day. Check.
4) Don’t run the dishwasher unless it is full. I use mine loads. I am sure there is an argument that it uses less energy to wash dishes by hand, but ours never runs unless it is full up and saves me lots of time. I can’t afford to buy another one if this one breaks down, so at that point I will revert back to handwashing. Check.
5) Go round the house and turn off everything at the plug that is left on standby. Culprits in my house are the Wii, the TV (which has no off button – go figure!!) and the DVD player. This we need to work on.
6) When you use the kettle, only boil the water you need. I do this, but need to train the troops!
7) Buy energy saving appliances. This is tricky if you have to buy second-hand, but not impossible if you do some research in advance. The last appliance I purchased was a large fridge freezer which is triple A rated for energy efficiency. This is worthwhile as it is on all the time! Check
8) Check the Internet to see if you can find a better deal on your energy provider and if you can fix your tariff. I recommend starting at MoneySavingExpert.com, which will help you avoid the pitfalls. Check
9)Train your family to turn off lights, TVs, etc behind them! Check
10) Turn off laptops and PCs when they aren’t in use. Darling daughters, read and take note!
11) Have a shower rather than a bath – it will use a lot less hot water, which means you can adjust your timer and heat the boiler for less time. We are having more showers now, but I think I could heat the boiler for less time. I will adjust!
12) You could also consider turning down the water temperature by adjusting the thermostat on your boiler. I did this by 1 degree and nobody noticed the difference. Check.
13) Turn down your general thermostat to no more that 21 degrees. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that just one degree lower could save £65 a year. Mine is at 20 degrees.
14) If you are lucky enough to have a spare room, turn off the radiator when you have no guests and close the door. No unused rooms here
15) Insulate your loft and wall cavities. I had mine done for free with British Gas. Check with your energy supplier to see what they offer. If you are in receipt of certain benefits you may be entitled to insulation and a new boiler, even if you don’t own your property. MoneySavingExpert.com has very good information on this. Check
16) Use draught excluders at the bottom of your doors and fit extra linings to your curtains. I need a thick curtain at my front door.
17) Consider fitting reflective radiator foil behind your radiators. This costs £7 for a 500mm by 5 metre roll at B&Q. I need to do this!
18) If you have your oven on, can you cook something else at the same time? How about flapjacks for the lunchboxes whilst you are doing tonight’s stew? Check

Good sites to look at for advice on this:

Energysavingtrust.org.uk, moneysavingexpert.com, BritishGas.co.uk (and your energy provider’s website)