Cheapest Ways to Heat a Home and Beat Energy Bills in 2024
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Energy bills have gone through the roof, and they're due to rise again in April after the government withdraws its support for regular households.
Unless there's a revision in the costs of heating our homes, we're all in for a bit of a shock.
Luckily, the weather should have warmed up by April, hence the projected cost rise shouldn't affect us too much until winter 2024. And — you never know — by then, costs might drop.
Either way, we all need to understand the cheapest ways to heat our homes and beat our energy bills.
To that end, we've put together this list of money-saving heating tips that ensure there's still money left at the end of the month.
What is the average cost of heating a home?
It’s tricky to give an average because the average cost of heating a home depends on:
- The number of rooms (and their size)
- The energy source — gas, electric, bioethanol, solar panels, etc
- The target temperature
- The efficiency of your boiler/heating system
The easiest way to calculate YOUR heating costs is to identify the power output of your boiler (if you use gas). Unfortunately, this isn’t always straightforward and might take a little Googling.
The average gas combi boiler is around 25kW, so let’s use that as a starting point.
In December 2022, the average price of gas was 9.83p per kWh. In order to calculate the cost of an hour's heating, use this formula:
Boiler power (25kw) x Gas cost (9.83p) = £2.46 per hour
That figure is pretty eye-watering, isn't it?
But remember, most energy-efficient gas boilers heat your radiators to the desired temperature, then simply top up the heat, so they rarely run for a full hour.
Nonetheless, this is by no means a cheap way to heat your home.
So what are the alternatives?
What are the cheapest ways to warm a home?
Actively heating a home will always cost something unless you have direct access to solar or wind energy.
However, the cheapest ways to warm the home rely on efficiency savings that we CAN make. Basically, consider ways to save the energy you’re using.
Increase insulation wherever possible
That heat is valuable, so aim to keep it in your home. This means insulation.
Check your roof when it snows: if the snow melts more quickly on your roof than your neighbours', you could do with extra loft insulation.
If you don't have double-glazing, attach a plastic sheet over your windows and seal it around the edges as much as possible.
Although not perfect, it will create an air pocket between the window and your room, which will help keep the heat inside the house.
Drafts most often occur around the skirting boards where the floor meets the wall and around windows and doors.
A good way to detect drafts is to light a joss stick and slowly carry the burning end around the edges of the room. The smoke will slowly rise upwards where there are no drafts but will dissipate if it finds itself in the line of a breeze. The glowing end may well glow brighter in a draft as well.
This will not only make your room smell nice, it'll help you identify where to add a draft excluder, which could just be a cushion stuffed over the gap.
Alternatively, buy a couple of rolls of good heat insulation tape — it's cheap and will save you £££s!
Only heat the rooms you’re using
While leaving unused rooms stone-cold can lead to dampness in the air, it doesn’t make sense to heat empty rooms.
Thermostatic radiator valves are probably the biggest money-saving tip of 2022, allowing you to regulate the temperature in individual rooms. This will enable you to switch radiators off or run them at low temperatures in unused rooms.
It's crucial to balance the costs of heating with potential redecoration costs because dampness in the air inevitably hits the walls, which can gather mould.
Bioethanol is relatively new in the UK but has been widely used as a heating source across Europe for decades. This liquid fuel burns cleanly, producing no soot, ash, or smoke, so you don’t need a chimney or flue to use a bioethanol fireplace inside the home.
Biofires are intended for occasional use as a secondary heat source, for those that want a real flame atmosphere for warm, cosy nights, but they are also increasingly being used as a fall-back option to have in case of any problems with the main source of heating.
Have you tried to call out a boiler engineer these days?
Even with expensive cover from your boiler manufacturer or energy company, it can take many days after reporting a fault to get anyone to visit. Having some other options as back up may bring some extra peace of mind.
A bioethanol fireplace introduces safe, real-flame heating into your home, offering a comfortable warmth and 100% fuel efficiency.
A litre bottle of bioethanol fuel costs around £3.50 and burns for 4 to 5 hours, depending on the slider's position on your fire, and a range of other factors such as natural room ventilation, type of furnishings in room etc.
This gives you a per-hour price of between 70p and £1, which isn't necessarily super-cheap, but it's certainly more economical than running your gas boiler or using an electric space heater.
Thus, if you’re looking for a cheaper way to heat a room, consider bioethanol — a green, carbon-neutral fuel that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.
How can I heat my home for free?
While there are very few FREE heating sources, you can change your perspective.
Use your curtains
That big glowing orange thing in the sky is there all day and offers free warmth, so opening your curtains once the sun comes up is one of the best ways to warm up a south-facing room for free.
Even if you don’t get direct sunlight, you can still benefit from those beneficial, warming UV rays, so keep your curtains open during the day.
And then closing your curtains at night helps keep the warmth in your room, especially if you don't have double glazing. Go for long, thick curtains if you can — the thicker they are, the more warmth you'll hold in.
Warm yourself up
We don’t always need the heating on to warm up, but your body does need to maintain a comfortable temperature; otherwise, concentration and focus drops.
Wearing blankets over your legs will keep them warm even if the room is cold, and wearing extra layers will help maintain a comfortable body temperature.
Lots of layers are better than a couple of thick layers because you can remove thinner layers if you get too hot or add them when you get cold. And thin layers are less restrictive in terms of your movement.
Get a heated throw
Another of the year’s super money-saving tips has been the electric blanket (aka heated throw), which costs pennies to run and keeps your whole body warm — perfect for lounging on the sofa or covering yourself when sitting at your desk.
Get some reflective radiator panels (and move your sofa)
Simply moving your sofa away from your wall-mounted radiators allows more heat to circulate around the room. One simple free tip is to move furniture away from radiators.
Another money-saving tip is to install reflective radiator panels behind your radiators, which helps reflect heat into the room (rather than drifting up to the ceiling).
In fact, 25% of heat from a standard wall-mounted radiator gets absorbed by the wall, so these cheap panels can help reduce your heating bills.
You don’t need to splash out, though. Make reflector panels by lining a large, thin board with standard kitchen foil, then sliding it behind the radiator. If you can wrap foil around an insulating material, such as polystyrene or foam, all the better.
Is it cheaper to leave the heat on all day?
The short answer: no, it isn't. Leaving the heating on low all day won't help you save money — just try and use heating when you need it and switch it off when you don't.
And don’t leave the heating on overnight — you’ve got duvets and sheets to keep you warm. If it’s chilly at night, add an extra sheet. And keep a dressing gown by the bed — that way, you won’t be cold if you need the loo!
How are you going to beat the energy bills this winter?
There are many ways to save money on your heating bills, including:
- Increasing insulation and reducing drafts
- Heating individual rooms
- Using bioethanol fuel
- Use your curtains
- Wrap up warm
- Use an electric throw
- Install reflective radiator panels
Thanks for reading.