Winter Money-Saving Tips: The Cheapest Ways to Heat Your Home
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We're in the midst of an energy price crisis, and it's difficult to stay calm. If you're forced to choose between eating and heating, you'll be looking for the cheapest way to heat your home this winter.
Look no further.
From winter energy-saving options to moving away from mainstream energy sources, there are many ways to save money on your winter heating bills.
This article explores a range of the most frequently asked questions on money saving tips, helping you find the cheapest way to heat your home this winter.
Ready? Let’s go!
How can I reduce my heating bill in winter?
Very few of us enjoy sitting in a cold room for any length of time. But, at the same time, sitting in a boiling hot room is equally uncomfortable.
How many of us have never quite mastered the thermostat or the timer function for our central heating?
You’re not alone.
Even when energy prices were more affordable, I bet you've all sat shivering in the lounge, waiting for the heat to come on; only to peel off layers of clothing once it's hit peak temperature.
What temperature should you set your thermostat in winter?
If you Google “what’s the best temperature for my home?”, you’ll find a range of answers from 18ºC to 21ºC. Some people prefer warmer, but comfort is wholly subjective.
Looking for that Goldilocks temperature (not too cold/not too hot) takes some trial and error — but don’t assume you need to boost the heating all the way up to 21ºC. If you’re chilly, stick on a sweater and some comfy jogging pants rather than boosting the heating, which is a costly way to warm up the house.
If you find yourself too hot, look at the thermostat, and take a mental note. All houses take a while to warm up — but overheating the house is wasteful. It won't take longer to warm up the home if you set the thermostat to a lower temperature.
Reducing your target room temperature by just 1ºC can save up to 10% on your heating bill.
Should I wear jumpers in the house to keep warm?
Should we expect to sit around the house in T-shirts and shorts during the winter? Probably not. After all, there’s nothing cosier than pulling out the jumpers and hoodies we’ve had stored in drawers and cupboards all summer.
Of course, it’s easy to say “wrap up warm”, but actually, there’s real common sense in just wearing more clothes to save money on your heating bills.
Wool is scientifically proven to keep you warmer than polyester or cotton, while cotton pants will keep your legs warmer than denim. But if you're not a fan of oversized chunky knits, opt for fleeces, which are more lightweight yet excellent insulators.
Does wearing more layers keep you warmer at home in winter?
The “layering system” has been used by mountain climbers and hikers for years, working on the principle that multiple thin layers keep you warmer than one big chunky jumper.
Layering thin layers of clothing on your upper body provides greater regulation of your body temperature; wearing more when you’re cold and fewer when you’re hot.
Layers work because warm air gets trapped between each layer of clothing, offering greater insulation from the ambient temperature around you. Alternatively, removing a layer reduces the insulation around your body if you're too hot, allowing you to cool down.
We’re not saying wear fifteen T-shirts and four jumpers. But a couple of T-shirt layers and a sweater could be way more effective than turning up the heating.
And if your nose gets cold, wear a scarf. It may seem a bit ridiculous to wear so many clothes at home in winter, but it will save you a lot of money on your heating bills.
How can I reduce my heating bill in winter?
There are some inexpensive ways to heat your home in winter that don’t rely on mains gas or electricity. Of course, there are wood- and coal burners, but costs have risen over the past couple of years, so these aren't always the cheapest alternatives to gas or electricity.
Additionally, burning wood and coal isn’t great for air quality or your carbon footprint. And there’s all the smoke, ash, and mess; not to mention the challenge of getting your fuel to light and stay lit.
Bioethanol: a carbon-neutral fuel that burns cleanly
Bioethanol (burnable alcohol produced from the byproducts including agricultural crops such as corn and potatoes) is a carbon-neutral fuel that burns cleanly - with no smoke, ash, or soot. You buy bioethanol fuel in bottles, offering independence from the massive volatility of the mains energy market.
Just fill your fuel box with bioethanol, and light it. It usually ignites the first time, warming up your room within twenty minutes. If it gets too warm, just adjust the slider on the burner to reduce the heat.
And you don’t need a chimney or flue with a bioethanol fireplace because it doesn’t produce smoke, unlike wood and coal.
Identify and address draughts to keep warm this winter
It will cost more to heat your home this winter if there are draughts around doors, windows, and floors.
Fit draught-proofing strips around your window frames, and hang heavy curtains if you can.
And put cling film over your windows, creating a pocket of air between the glass and your room for a temporary secondary glazing layer. The Energy Saving Trust reinforces this tip.
Keep doors closed in the rooms you're heating to help maintain the temperature. And fit draught-proofing strips around frames and draught excluders on the bottom of your doors.
Gaps in your floorboards or skirting can release cold air into the room — you could use a silicone filler to plug up gaps.
Should I switch off my appliances at the wall?
There's been a lot of press about the costs of running electrical appliances on standby for long periods. Newer devices tend to have lower power consumption on standby, whereas older units can use almost as much power in standby as in use.
However, most electrical appliances use SOME power on standby, so it’s probably better to switch the power off at the wall when those appliances aren’t being used.
Of course, there are some appliances you can't switch off, such as your fridge, freezer, or internet router. Go around the house, identify which devices are always on, and decide whether they need to be.
Beware the “energy vampires”! These are appliances we often leave switched on even when they’re not in use, including:
- Games consoles (very power hungry!)
Switch these appliances off at the wall (or unplug them) when not in use.
Any savings are welcome, after all.
Should I only heat the rooms I’m using?
Heating the entire house is a waste if you're only using one room. Of course, many of us are working from home more, and that means keeping the heating on during the day (when you'd have used your office's heat in the past).
It doesn't make sense to heat the entire house if you only use one room. Switching off the radiators in empty spaces is definitely the cheapest way to heat your home this winter.
And you might even find that an oil-filled electric radiator is cheaper to run than your boiler. Sure, electric heaters are energy-hungry, but temperature-controlled oil-filled radiators heat up quickly, and then switch off when they've hit the desired temperature.
If you run it on low and wear more clothes, you may find an electric radiator cheaper than gas in this circumstance.
Only light the rooms you’re using
What is this? Blackpool illuminations?
Our parents used to say it when we were younger, and perhaps you've found yourself saying it now you're an adult.
LED lights are much cheaper to run than old-style incandescent lightbulbs, but nonetheless, switch lights off when you leave the room.
Is it cheaper to leave the heating on in winter?
Hmm. This is hotly contested, depending on where you look.
The Energy Saving Trust says that your house constantly leaks energy, regardless of insulation. They claim that keeping the heat on all day means your house constantly loses energy, so they suggest only heating your home when needed.
However, other experts claim it’s better to leave the heating on constantly because switching it on and off creates condensation within your walls, which conducts your home’s heat outside.
So, it swings and roundabouts.
Our advice is to use a timer — there’s no point, for example, in leaving the heating on overnight.
We suggest setting your heating to switch on twenty minutes before you're due to get out of bed in the morning and switching it off half an hour before you leave the house.
If you get up at 6 am and are out the door by 6.45 am, set your heating timer to switch on at 5.40 am and off at 6.15 am. That way, you're only heating the house when you need it.
Likewise, set the heating to come back on twenty minutes before you get home. In freezing weather, give it thirty minutes.
Inexpensive ways to heat your home in winter
Finally, here are some quick tips on keeping your home warm this winter without running up massive bills.
Bioethanol could be the cheapest way to heat your house without electricity this winter.
Tip #1: Install thermostats on your radiators
You can buy thermostatic radiator valves for as little as £11. These valves make it easier to prevent heating the rooms you're not using — you can switch them off (or leave them on low) to minimise your fuel bills.
Tip #2: Keep doors closed in rooms you’re not heating!
Most of us have rooms, like dining rooms or guest bedrooms, that are infrequently used. Keep the doors closed in these rooms to make it easier to heat the rest of the house.
Tip #3: Dry your clothes on an airer — not the radiators
Use a clothing maiden to dry your clothes, allowing warm air to circulate around your room. But whenever possible, dry your clothes outside — even in the winter. If you have a warm day with some sun, it will help dry your clothes on the line.
Tip #4: Open your windows!
No, we haven't gone mad. We tend to assume it's warmer inside than outside, but that's not always the case. If it's warmer outside than it is inside, open your windows - especially in cold, dark rooms that don't get a lot of sunlight.
Monopolise on natural heat to help minimise your energy bills this winter.
Got any questions about bioethanol?
You might be new to bioethanol, so you'll likely have many questions on how to save money in winter using bioethanol fireplaces.
Check out our FAQ section and our how-to videos to find out more.
And get in touch to find out how easy it is to install a bioethanol fireplace in your home — remember, you don’t need a chimney or flue!