Finding energy saving tips to reduce the cost of heating our homes has arguably never been so important, with energy bills rising for millions this year.
Energy price rises have put the squeeze on households across the UK, especially those already struggling with their energy costs and those who live in energy inefficient homes. Having a plan to help pay for, and lower your bills, is essential.
We’ve put together this 11-point plan to hopefully steer you in the right direction.
1. Address your bill payments immediately
This might sound like an obvious point, but if you haven’t already, make sure you ring up your energy supplier to confirm what your payments will be for the next few months, and confirm when your fixed tariff ends (if that’s the tariff you’re on).
You can also ring your supplier to enquire about switching to a new energy deal to lower your bills, or move to another provider instead. Just be sure to analyse each company’s exit fees, and opt for one that won’t charge the earth if you want to leave.
From October, households across the UK will begin to receive a £400 energy grant to help with rising bills.
2. Check if you’re entitled to financial assistance
It’s worth checking any benefits you may be entitled to, either through your individual wage or total household income. Living alone, for example, is one way you can claim financial assistance.
Nick Drewe, from online discounts platform WeThrift, says: “If you didn’t already know, living alone allows you to take advantage of a 25% discount on your council tax bill, saving you hundreds of pounds a year, making a particular difference when prices go up.”
You can also claim tax relief of £6 per week if you have had to work from home during the pandemic. And fuel poverty grants are available such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme and Winter Fuel Payment.
3. Identify heat loss in your home
There are several ways heat loss in a house happens, including through your roof, windows, floor and walls. This can cost homeowners an average of £55 extra per year on their bills, according to MyJobQuote.
Matthew Jenkins, heating expert from MyJobQuote, says: “Before putting the heating on, firstly identify ways in which the heating can easily escape. The most common ways for draughts to escape is through gaps in poorly glazed windows and doors. However, heat can also escape through unused chimneys, unused vents and uninsulated walls.”
4. Don't leave plug sockets on
This is another obvious tip, but one that we're all likely to have done. Plug sockets which are left on when not in use are known as energy vampires and will still use energy. And this can add up.
Leaving devices on at the wall such as laptops, smart speakers and broadband routers can cost the average household an extra £147 a year, according to British Gas.
5. Check your boiler is working efficiently
Making simple changes to your boiler can help you save on your energy bills, particularly if you own an older boiler.
In 2020, a campaign called #KillaKilowatt encouraged homeowners to drop the temperature flow on their boilers to 60°C - most factory-made boilers have the temperature flow set around 75°C - which will essentially help your boiler to achieve higher efficiency.
It does this because at 60°C your boiler is more readily able to condense water vapour and recover latent heat from this vapourisation, which would otherwise have been lost up the flue.
You can also check your boiler pressure to make sure it’s between 1-2 bars, the ideal pressure for a boiler. “Both low and high pressure can mean problems with heating your home efficiently, resulting in cold spots across the home and costing more money than necessary,” says Jenkins.
6. Install draught proofing
Cost-effective measures such as adding draught proofing can be a cheap and quick way to help your home retain heat; it can also improve your home’s thermal efficiency.
You can add draught proofing around doors, windows, floorboards, which can save you around £30 a year, while draught proofing an unused chimney can save you roughly £20 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST).
7. Make your home smarter
The greater-value improvements generally come from making long-term investments in your energy efficiency (which we’ll cover later in this article), but there are some quick, affordable ways to make your home smarter which will have a positive impact. For example:
- Swap to LED light bulbs - this could save an average of £100.03 in two years, according to the EST
- Use smart plugs - homeowners waste around £80 a year through leaving appliances on standby, the EST says, but using smart plugs and switching appliances off through your phone (even when you’re not at home) can help you prevent this wastage.
8. Install heating controls
Most heating controls can be easily integrated into your home without replacing your boiler, and let you control the temperature in each room. Many offer energy-saving functions as well.
Energy efficiency expert Tim Pullen, writing in the December 2021 issue of Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, explains: “Arguably one of the best things we can do is to upgrade our heating control system so that rooms are heated at the time and to the temperature we want, and not wasted on rooms we are not currently using.”
Most heating controls cost between £200 and £250, although some prices include installation and some don’t. In terms of cost-saving, Nest says its thermostat can save a semi-detached home 3-5,000kWh per year (£135-225), based on use of the various setbacks and ‘away’ settings that Nest provides.
9. Make your radiators more efficient
Learning how to bleed a radiator can help to release air trapped in your central heating system, making your radiators more efficient and prevent cold spots being created.
You could also consider investing in a thermostatic radiator valve. As Winston Davis, director of Avenue Heating explains, "These essentially allow you to regulate the temperature of each individual radiator in your property. It’s predominantly used to reduce your fuel - thus saving on your bills."
10. Consider investing in long-term measures
"Long-term measures will help to reduce your reliance on any kind of fuel, which will help you get onto the path of a long-term retrofit, even if it's just small steps at a time," says Paul Testa, founder of Paul Testa Architecture and contributor to Homebuilding & Renovating,
Making sure your home has efficient insulation is a good starting point. Insulating floors, insulating your loft and insulating your roof can all improve your home's energy efficiency.
Replacing your heating system with a low-carbon heating system, such as heat pumps or a biomass boiler can make a big difference over time too. However you may initially need to improve your home’s thermal efficiency and upgrade your electricity in order for a heat pump to work efficiently.
You can also make the following improvements to your home:
- Install solar panels
- Install secondary glazing
- Install an MVHR system
11. Check if you’re eligible for home improvement grants
Finally, if you’re considering making some long-term improvements to your home, check to see whether you’re eligible for any government grants.
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Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.