Column Rads Winter Home Heating Guide

With spiraling bills, it is tempting to switch off the central heating in the winter and colder months to save money on your outgoings. However, keeping warm is one of the key ways to saying fit and well. A cold damp home can lead to illness and this is especially dangerous for the elderly.

The good news is that whilst heating your home is perhaps always going to be an unwelcome expense there are way to save money on your home heating bill. This guide will walk you through some of the steps you can do to save money on your heating.

Ensure That Your Boiler / Heating System is Working Correctly

One area that is often overlooked is the regular servicing of your boiler and heating system. Whilst it is tempting to adopt the attitude of, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’, this can be a false economy since by not regularly servicing your boiler it could lead to costly repairs. Over time a boiler can lose efficiency if it is not serviced, which means it will not be performing as well as it could, potential costing you extra money on your heating bills. Whilst servicing your boiler will cost money, it will at least be running as it is designed. In addition, by serving your boiler you should get many more years use out of it.

If you have cold radiators or problems with your heating system, it might be time to bleed your radiators or call in a plumber or heating engineer to take a look at the problem. Whilst some heating issues can be dealt with by the home owners themselves, this is not always practical. When the weather starts to turn cooler it is a good idea to test your central heating, since more than likely it will have been switched off all summer, and in this dormant state - faults can occur. Don’t wait until it is already very cold do turn on your heating because if there is a problem you will be left in the cold.

The Right Temperature for Your Home

Generally, the advice is, and especially for those over 65 is to heat your home to at least 18C and try to ensure that your living space is around 21C. Whilst you can wear extra clothes, and it is a good idea to put on an extra layer, don’t just rely on clothing to keep you warm. A combination of adequate heating and good clothing is best. Whilst you can save money by lowering the temperature on your thermostat, it is a good idea not to set it to maximum all the time, you still need some heat in the house. Ensuring you are setting the temperature to at least the minimum recommended settings means that you will operate your heating as cost effectively as it is safe to do so for your health.

It is also a good idea to ensure that your heating system’s thermostat is working correctly. This can be done by using a cheap household thermometer to check the temperature of the room and to ensure that it matches what you have set your thermostat to. If there is a big variance, then you may have a problem with your heating system which will need to be looked at.

If you have rooms that you do not use often then there is a temptation to turn off the radiators completely. However, it is better to have a slightly warm room than a completely cold one. In these cases, it might be worth investing in thermostatic heating valves for your radiators since you can individually set the temperature on each radiator to ‘zone’ your house with different heating areas, keeping your living and sleeping areas warm and those areas that go unused, a little cooler.

Reduce Your Energy Costs

Once you’re happy that your central heating system is running correctly the next thing to do is to ensure that you run it efficiently. Heat is lost through gaps in your home’s roof, walls, doors, windows and floors. Ensure that doors remain closed to avoid heat-loss, and if there are gaps underneath the door, then a draft excluder is a fantastic way of reducing heat loss from the room.

Occasionally radiators are blocked by sofas and chairs. This means that the heat doesn’t flow into the room as well as it could and the chair is the thing that absorbs the heat. In these situations, it is a good idea to move the furniture in the room around a little so that the radiator is not blocked by the furniture. Small changes like this can have a big impact of the performance of the heating and the overall heating costs.

Windows are a source of heat loss, but not everyone can afford to pay for triple glazed windows. If you can, replace old single or double glazed windows with triple glazing, as this will help make your home more energy efficient. However, there are a few tips you can use to save money and improve the heating efficiency of the windows in your home in the winter. Firstly, you can put plastic sheeting across the window, to add a secondary layer to the panes. You should also ensure that your curtains and blinds are drawn in the evenings to minimise heat loss.

If you live in an older home, you may not have adequate insulation in the walls. It can be a good idea to check this and you can get foam insulation installed relatively cheaply. In some cases, such as for those people who are over 70 a government grant is available to do this work for free. This might be an option to consider and this will help improve your energy efficiency. The same goes for the loft space in your home if you have one. Heat rises and any warmth in your home will effectively dissipate through the roof. If it is well insulation, then this effect will be reduced.

Whilst newer boilers will by law be insulated, older boilers may not be and will benefit from being lagged properly. Additionally, if the lagging is old and tired it might be a good idea to change it, since this is a relatively low cost solution.

Another way to save some money on your heating is to learn how to use the timer on the heating system. If you know you have regular schedules outside of the house, then you can set the timer to switch off the heating system when you are not there. Remember that it does take a little while for the heating system to warm the home back up again, so it is a good idea to time your heating so that it switches back on in good time so that your home is warm for when you return.

One thing that people tend to overlook is the energy tariff that they are on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who stick to the same energy tariff for years on end. In some cases, they may be getting a good deal, but more than likely a better, more competitive deal is available out there. For those on low incomes fixed priced tariffs can be a good idea and help you budget for your heating costs. There are also good deals available when you combine both your electricity and gas tariffs together. The thing to do is to shop around for the best deal. You might be surprised how much money you can save and it is quite easy to switch. You can even use the internet to track down the best deal on your energy costs.

Whilst heating your home is always going to cost some money, by following the tips above you can save money on your heating and energy bills whilst maintaining a warm home that will keep you well in the winter.

View other Column Rads guides to heating your home.

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