At the end of September, globally high prices for gas lead to massive increases in domestic fuel bills. The timing of these price hikes could not have been worse, just when temperatures outside were dropping and people were switching their heating on. Heating uses a lot of power: for the average UK household, heating is responsible for over half of each month’s energy bills! Gas, oil, coal or wood used for heating releases carbon into the atmosphere which contributes to climate change. So, for the sake of the planet and to take pressure off your finances, what easy steps are there to cut your heating bill, but help you stay warm at home?
When temperatures drop, we put more clothes on: a jumper when indoors; a hat and a coat with a scarf tucked in to fill any cold gaps when outdoors. In the same way, to keep the house warm, it needs to be wrapped in a nice thick coat of insulation. If your heating system is pumping heat into the house, but the heat is escaping to the outside, the house will not stay warm and the heating bills will be astronomical! You need to keep that heat in as much as you can.
Gaps can occur around windows, doors, loft hatches, pipework or between floor boards, letting warm air out and cold air in. Draught proofing those gaps is one of the most cost effective ways to save energy and money in your home and is relatively easy to do yourself. Fitting curtains on windows and doors helps cut draughts too and keeps the cold out, especially if they are lined with thermal lining. Draw them as soon as it gets dark, before you start losing heat. Once the house is draught free there will be less air movement so it will feel warmer at a lower temperature so try turning the thermostat down: turning it down by just one degree can save 10% on your energy bill.
If you have radiators beneath the windows, make sure the curtains do not hang in front of them. If they do, all the heat from the radiator will go up behind the curtain, rather than into the room. About 25% of heat from radiators is lost to the wall behind, so fitting reflective panels or a sheet of aluminium foil on the wall behind the radiator, to reflect the heat back into the room will reduce heat loss and your bill.
Hot air rises up through the roof, so loft insulation should be your next step, like putting a hat on your house. It should be at least 270mm thick, which is the requirement for newly built properties. You may have as little as 25mm, which was the recommended amount in the 1980s.
The suggestions above are relatively easy to do, don’t cost too much and will make an immediate difference to your monthly fuel bill. If you want to do more, there is plenty of help and advice online:
Click here to access the Energy Saving Trust website.
Click here to look at Herefordshire Green Network’s Building Sense resources ‘Improving Energy Performance in Buildings’ – you’ll find the tab if you scroll down to the bottom of the home page
Click here for Keep Herefordshire Warm which offers energy efficiency advice and grant funding to Herefordshire residents anywhere in the county.
With a little bit of effort you can reduce your impact on the planet, reduce your monthly fuel bill and feel warm and comfortable at home this winter.
The article ‘Wrapping Up Warm for Winter’ by Rachel Hickley first appeared in the November issue of Ledbury Focus, published by Grapevine Publications.