MAKE SURE YOUR BOILER IS ENERGY EFFICIENT
It is recommended that if your boiler is over 15 years old, then it is time to think about having it replaced with something more efficient. Boilers are rated for their efficiency on a Grade of A to G, with A grade boilers being the most efficient. Condensing boilers are incredibly efficient because they turn a high percentage of their fuel into heat and although they can be expensive to install, you will get your money back in savings on fuel costs in the longer term. Make sure you do your research before buying and ensure that anyone installing your boiler is CORGI approved. If you have a fairly new boiler installed, then make sure it is serviced every 1-2 years to ensure it is running smoothly and efficiently.
DON’T HAVE THE HEATING ON TOO HIGH
Obviously we are not advocating being cold during winter, but is it really necessary to be walking around your house in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of January? If you are doing this, then your heating is probably on too high and you have a great opportunity to reduce your costs. Research has shown that by turning down the temperature in your home by just 1°, can reduce your annual heating bill by as much as 10%. You may even find that you can reduce the heat by 2° and still not feel cold. Not only will this cut your heating costs dramatically, you will also be doing your bit for the environment but reducing your carbon footprint.
GET A CYLINDER JACKET FOR YOUR HOT WATER TANK
Many older houses with their hot water tank in the airing cupboard or the loft do not have anything covering the tank and heat simply escapes causing an unnecessary increase in your fuel bills. British Gas claims that a well fitted and good quality cylinder jacket could stop heat escaping by as much as 75% and has the additional benefit of keeping your hot water hotter for longer. Cheap to buy and easy to install, you may also wish to complement your cylinder jacket by buying some spiral pipe wrap to keep hot water hot for that extra little bit longer!
INSTALL CAVITY WALL AND LOFT INSULATION
Usually made from mineral wool (and increasingly sheeps wool), wall and loft insulation is an excellent way to stop heat escaping from your house. It has been estimated that around 25% of heat is lost through a roof that has not been insulated so getting your house insulated makes excellent financial sense, particularly as you won’t need to worry again for about 40 years!
The good news for many low-income householders is that as of 14th April 2011, the Government started accepting applications for its Warm Front scheme. If you qualify, you could receive a grant of up to £3,500 for such things as cavity wall and loft insulation and draught-proofing. For further information on the Warm Front scheme, go to http://bit.ly/o8KwMI
SWITCH YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER
Virtually no-one can have avoided seeing the doom and gloom on the news about the huge hike in gas prices. 3.5 million in fuel poverty and energy regulator Ofgem demanding explanations from providers about overcharging consumers have just been a couple of the hard hitting headlines in recent months. However, there is still money to be saved by choosing the right supplier. Many experts have recommended that getting your electricity and gas from the same supplier (duel fuel switching) is a way to keep costs down, plus some companies are offering fixed rate tariffs that will protect you bills from being affected by further prices rises for a certain period of time. An excellent place to go to look at the savings for switching suppliers is http://www.energyhelpline.com
GET A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat then you are really missing a trick when it comes to saving money on your heating bills. Using your memory to turn on or switch off your heating is not the most effective way of warming your home efficiently. Clock and digital thermostats are not particularly expensive to have installed, particularly when you look at the flexibility they offer you.
You can set them to go off during the day when you are out at work and therefore avoiding the expense of heating an empty house. You can also ensure the heating is switched off when you are safely tucked up in bed. Many thermostats also go beyond the simple functionality of being able to switch the heating on or off. You often have the opportunity so have periods when the temperature is higher or lower depending on the situation and time of day, meaning you don’t have to risk feeling uncomfortable in an attempt to save money!
CUT OUT ANY DRAUGHTS
We all remember the big sausage-shaped draught excluder disguised as a snake by our back doors when we were young and even today, gaps around doors and windows need to be plugged to help minimise heat loss. Thankfully, draught proofing is a fairly inexpensive yet incredibly effective option.
For windows, you can buy adhesive foam strips or metal brush strips which are cheap to buy and easy to install. You can also use a silicon sealant on windows that don’t open. For plugging up doors, you can buy slightly bigger and more heavy duty strips and brushes and a letter box brush is an absolute must for your front door. You can even use the old foam sausage snake for those pesky draughts at the bottom of doors! When buying any draught-proofing product, please ensure it displays The British Standards Institution’s ‘kitemark’ to ensure maximum quality.
USE THE NATURAL WARMTH OF THE SUN
Although this sounds obvious, it may not immediately spring to mind that the sun can provide some natural heat during the day. If you have a south facing window, then why not open the blinds or curtains and allow the sunlight to flood into the room through the glass? Dark surfaces will absorb a surprising amount of heat from the sunlight. At the end of the day, close blinds or curtains to keep the warmth in. Incidently, thicker blinds made from wood and metal are much better insulators than plastic or vinyl ones. For good measure, why not put a rug down on any open flooring?
PLUG UP YOUR LOFT ACCESS POINT AND OPEN FIRES
This is a bit of a Cut Out The Draughts Part 2, however these heat loss points are important and often under-estimated when trying to cut down heating costs and deserve a point all to themselves. The access point to your loft is simply a big hole in your ceiling that has been covered with nothing more than a piece of wood which can cause a huge amount of heat loss. There are many loft and attic covers that fit over the gap caused by the access point and stop heat leakage.
Similarly, an open fire that is not being used can provide your heat with an escape route directly to the outside. Make sure your fireplace damper is closed when the fire is not being used. Alternatively, have a look at chimney balloons, which are an inexpensive way to plug the gap up your chimney.
BLEED YOUR RADIATORS
There’s nothing worse for your heating bills than pumping energy into a system that is full of air pockets. If air gets into your heating system, then this will hugely effect its efficiency and effectiveness in heating your home. Some tell-tale signs of air in the system are cold radiators, radiators that are cold at the top and hot at the bottom and loud banging noises in your pipes. Bleeding your radiators in order to get rid of trapped air to balance your system is a relatively simple process and will do wonders for your fuel bills once your radiators are functioning correctly.