Keep warm without a financial meltdown

Monday 24 October 2016, 09:30 PM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

  • Heating-Money-Saving-Large

Winter's approaching bringing mulled wine, mittens and Christmas cheer. But, with the temperature falling, it can also bring huge gas and electricity bills. 

Thankfully there are ways to keep you and your home warm without causing a financial meltdown. 
By investing a little of your energy before the big chill arrives, you could save hundreds of pounds over the next few months.   

Turn it down  
No one will notice if you turn the thermostat down just one degree but it could save as much as £90 a year on your fuel bills according to the Energy Saving Trust. It's also sensible to only heat the rooms you and your family spend most time in, with the latest heating controls allowing you to do just this from an app on your phone.  

Insulate - yourself and your home
As well as digging out the jumpers, woolly socks and thermal undies for the cold nights ahead, think about wrapping your home up too. Loft insulation for a semi-detached house costs around £300 to install but, as it saves around £140 a year on your fuel bills, it will have paid for itself pretty quickly. 

Even simple - and cheap - steps such as fitting draught excluders and filling in any cracks in the floorboards will chop as much as £35 off your annual energy bills. 

Supercharge your radiators
They're one of the commonest ways to heat a room but many will also be heating your ceiling, furniture and even your external walls too. To get the max out of them, don't put furniture in front of them and consider using devices such as radiator shelves, reflector panels and boosters to redirect the heat back into the room. 

It's also worth investing in a radiator key. Bleeding your radiators lets any gases out, making them warmer and more energy efficient. 

Get smart
Smart meters allow you to take control of the energy you use in your home by showing you, in near real time, exactly how much you're using and what it costs. They also send meter readings to your supplier so you'll never find yourself in hideous amounts of credit or having to increase your payments to catch up.

We're all set to get one by 2020 and, if you haven't already had one installed, you can contact your supplier to see what its timetable's like. Smart Energy GB has all the details. 

Switch supplier 
More than 50% of UK households are on a standard tariff, either because a fixed rate deal has expired or they've never switched, so it could be worth seeing if you could save money. 

Figures from comparison website MoneySuperMarket indicate that some households could save as much as £303 a year by switching to a cheaper deal. Not a bad return for five minutes filling out your details on a comparison site

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