How to reduce your winter bill

During this winter, households will undoubtedly be spending more time at home than usual. We are all getting used to a new ‘normal’, whether this be having to work from home, or facing restrictions on social activities. As a result, it is likely that we could be facing higher winter utility bills than usual. Whilst this is expected, it can still be daunting having to prepare for the upcoming costs. This is why we have prepared some tips to help you avoid receiving a higher winter bill.

Switch to LED lighting

Investing in LED light bulbs is a great way to not only reduce your winter electricity bills, but also to be more eco-friendly! LED light bulbs only use 25% of the energy of a standard fluorescent light bulb to produce the same level of lighting. This means they have an incredibly smaller environmental footprint, but provide a longer durability of light for your house. 

Yes, upgrading to an LED bulb will involve an upfront cost and it might be tempting to opt for a cheaper halogen bulb at the time. However, according to SimplyLED, by upgrading just one bulb to LED in your property, you could save as much as £153.40 over its lifespan!

Unplug your devices

Another way to save money on your electrical bill is to simply unplug any devices when you’re not using them. Even though it might be simple to switch the socket off, it’s likely that if the plug is still warm, it is still using energy and costing you money. It has been reported that households waste £227 million a year on energy due to leaving appliances plugged in or on standby. This could add up to £86 of your annual electricity bill

Excluding set top boxes, which need constant power to download information, any appliances on standby are still drawing power, this is sometimes known as ‘vampire power’. It’s important to make sure that phone chargers, desktops, TVs and light switches should be turned off or unplugged when not in use to save as much energy as possible. 

Insulate your property 

No matter how often you heat your home, it will not stay warm in the winter season if your house is not well insulated. In fact, a poorly insulated home can lose up to 35% of heat through its walls, 25% through its roof and 40% between doors, windows and flooring. The purpose of home insulation is to prevent heat from escaping your home in the winter and also to prevent your property from becoming too hot in the summer. With better insulation and draft prevention you could have a warmer, more comfortable home and save an immense amount of money long-term. For example, Superfoil reported that insulating the roof of a semi-detached house could save approximately £150 every year! 

It is also worth considering a hot water cylinder jacket for your water tank. When purchasing one, make sure that the jacket is 80mm in thickness. With an initial cost of around £15, the jacket will insulate the tank, saving you roughly £20 a year. This pays back your initial investment and will continue to save on your winter bills whilst keeping your water hotter for longer too. 

Be mindful of your heating

Your thermostat is in control of your home’s temperature. For example, if you set the thermostat to 20°C, your boiler will heat the house and will turn off once it reaches 20°C. If heat escapes the house and the temperature drops, the boiler will turn back on and heat the house up once again until it reaches the desired temperature. If your house is well insulated, it is less likely that the room temperature will drop as quickly, meaning your heating would only have to turn on occasionally.

It is a common myth that it’s cheaper to have the heating on constantly at a low temperature rather than having it on a timer. This is because you shouldn’t have to pay for heat you’re not using. Turning the thermostat to a low temperature will still require the boiler to use energy in order to maintain the desired temperature. Instead, program your central heating to have a timer so that you can have the heating on when it is most beneficial to you. For example, time your heating to turn on half an hour before you arrive back from work and time it to switch off when you go to bed. 

When your heating is switched on, dramatic increases or decreases on your thermostat can create unnecessary electrical strain, so try to keep the thermostat steady. If you’re looking to save on your winter bill, reducing your heating temperature by just one degree could save as much as £75 over the year, without you even noticing a difference.

Keep yourself cosy

The nights are only getting colder and no one enjoys a freezing nights sleep. We know it can be tempting to increase the heating before bed. But, before you make that decision, consider taking a hot water bottle to bed with you. 

For example, Veissman reported that the average 24kW boiler will cost around 91p to run for one hour, depending on the cost of gas as well as size and age of the boiler. However, Shell Energy reported that the average kettle filled with 850ml of water will only cost 2.5p each time it is boiled. This means that filling a hot water bottle will not only keep you warm during the night, but will be cost efficient too! So rather than heating your entire house during the night, a simple hot water bottle might just do the trick.

Alongside this, the average heating season lasts roughly 5.6 months of the year. With that being said, we all know how easy it is to get into a habit of switching the heating on when we are feeling a bit chilly. But, if you’re trying to save on your bills as much as possible, try to exhaust all of your options beforehand. Adding a few layers of clothing around the house or getting cosy with a blanket on the sofa are effective ways to keep yourself warm. Keeping the heating off for an extra 2 hours a day can total up to 336 hours of saved energy over the winter months!

However, as much as we want to save on our energy bills, we do not advocate living in a cold house. The minimum heating temperature recommended by the World Health Organisation should not go below 18°C, as this could increase the risk of respiratory illness. To help monitor the temperature in your home accurately, if you don’t have a smart meter, you could consider getting a digital thermometer display.

Your curtains are important too

Although this might seem like an obvious tip, it’s surprising how much warmth natural lighting can bring into your home. Opening your curtains during the day can bring natural sunlight and warmth through the windows. Conversely, closing curtains at night can stop the winter night chills from spreading throughout the home. Even though it might be a small change, with the other tips mentioned throughout this post, these adjustments combined will make a great difference to saving energy.

Whilst this is a free and easy tip, if you wanted to go the extra mile, you could decide to invest in thermal lined curtains. These are a multi-layered fabric which retains warmth by creating a dead-air space between the window and the room, reducing the amount of air infiltration and transfer of heat. This can reduce heat loss by up to 25% in the winter, saving you even more energy. 

Other quick ways to save money on your winter bill:

Lower your water heating temperature

Who doesn’t like a long hot shower during the winter? Turns out you can save energy on your water heating temperature without giving it up. It’s been reported that you will save 3-5% on your water heating costs for every 12°C reduction in the tank’s standing water temperature. 

Wash your clothes at a lower temperature

Nowadays, many laundry products are designed to clean clothes effectively at lower temperatures. Therefore, save energy on electricity and water by making sure your washing machine is fully loaded, washing them at 30°C.

Be energy conscious with your Christmas decorations 

We all love putting up Christmas lights and before you know it, the whole house is covered in them. It can also become an easy habit to leave them on all night and even all day if you forget about them! Now, we don’t want you to restrict yourself from your festive decorations, so why not consider investing in LED Christmas lights or even purchasing a light timer? This will help you save energy without having to compromise on your Christmas spirit this year. 

Air dry clothes indoors 

Using an airer to dry your clothes will save a lot of energy compared to using a tumble dryer. However, drying your clothes indoors, especially during the winter can be problematic in causing dampness to your home. Therefore, try timing your washes during the hours when your heating comes on. To avoid creating any form of damp, keep the window open but the door closed in the room where the clothes are drying. This will allow any moisture to escape rather than circulate around the home. Alternatively, consider investing in a dehumidifier to use while your clothes are drying, to help absorb the excess moisture in the air from the damp clothes.

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