How to get your home warm this winter
As the chill sets in, we look at ways to heat your home
Check the thermostat
It may sound obvious but crank up the thermostat. Experts advice heating your living room to around 18-21°C (64-70°) on winter days and the rest of the house to at least 16°C (61°F). If you’re not using a room, then shut the radiator off and close the door. This will contain the heat you’ve generated in a smaller area and prevent cold air seeping in from the rest of the house. It’s best to set the timer to make sure the heating comes on when you get up in the morning and get home from work at night. With a modern boiler, setting the timer to start heating your home half an hour before you need it should be enough to make it warm and toasty when it matters.
Insulate your home
About a third of the heat loss in homes is through the walls, so insulating them is a cost-effective way to save energy and reduce winter fuel bills. Double glazing, loft insulation and under-floor insulation can also make your home more weather-proof and slash hundreds of pounds off your heating bill. You may qualify for energy grants to insulate your home. For more information see https://www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator/y/help_energy_efficiency/pro...
Dodge the drafts
Window frames and doors can let precious heat escape. Cheap, self-adhesive foam tape can seal any gaps at the edges of windows or doors. Metal or plastic strips with brushes attached cost more but last longer, according to the Energy Saving Trust. These brushes can also exclude icy drafts through the letterbox or at the bottom of doors. Previous generations made DIY draft excluders, often in the shape of a sausage dog. Heavy curtains are also a great, low-tech way to keep the cold from creeping in. Draw your curtains in the evening but open them during the day to let in the sunlight. It’s important to use as much natural heat as possible to warm your home.
Cover bare boards
Nobody likes stepping on freezing floors with bare feet. Put down carpet or rugs to cover wooden boards or tiles. An estimated one tenth of your home’s heating can be lost through flooring that is not insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation. Rugs help insulate your floor and are much cosier to walk on than bare floors. And if there are cracks or gaps in the flooring, it might be a good idea to squirt some filler into them. Alternatively, consider underfloor heating.
Get your heating system checked
Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional or engineer. It’s important to keep a central heating system maintained. Radiators and pipes can become blocked with sludge. This means some radiators can heat up more slowly than others or, in extreme cases, not at all. Other common reasons for a radiator failing to heat are faults in the thermostatic radiator valve and an airlock in the central heating system. Try and avoid putting large pieces of furniture like sofas in front of radiators as this could stop the heat moving around the room.
Service your boiler
Make sure your boiler is serviced regularly rather than wait for a breakdown. An annual service will ensure it’s working as safely and as efficiently as possible. It could increase the lifespan of your boiler – and prevent costly repairs. A good service should include a clean and check of component parts for any leaks, damage or corrosion. The boiler engineer will also carry out a flue test to check it’s not emitting an excess of carbon monoxide gas. If your boiler is more than 15-years-old, consider switching to a newer, more energy-efficient model - it could knock a large chunk off your heating bills. If your boiler needs changing in the next few years, think about installing an electric air source heat pump which absorbs heat from outside. The benefits include lower fuel bills and lower home carbon emissions, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Get a free home energy check
Most energy suppliers offer advice and tips to reduce your bills for free. Remember to talk to your supplier about your own home and circumstances. They may suggest you use a cheaper tariff, for example.
Cold weather payments
You may be eligible for help with your energy bills if you’re getting certain benefits, such as Universal Credit or State Pension. The Cold Winter Payments scheme for those on low incomes kicks in when temperatures fall to below zero degree for seven or more consecutive days. If you do qualify, you’ll get £25 a week payment for every seven-day spell of cold weather you experience between November 1 to March 31 For more information see https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment If you are receiving State Pension, you should get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically. Payments between £100 and £300 are based on your age, whether you receive certain benefits and where you live. For more information see https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment . See also Warm Home Discount Scheme https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
An electric blanket can make sure your bed is warm and welcoming whatever the weather outside. However, electric blankets account for more than 5,000 fires a year in the home. Fire services recommend having your blanket inspected by a qualified electrician every three years. Only leave a blanket switched on at night if it has thermostatic controls for safe all-night use. Under-blankets designed for pre-heating a bed should be switched off and disconnected before you get in. Examine your blanket for signs of wear or damage. Your blanket should be replaced with a new one if fabric is frayed, there are scorch marks, wires poking through, worn flex, loose connections or the control makes a buzzing noise. Always buy a new (never second-hand) electric blanket and make sure it has a safety mark, such as the new British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) to show it conforms to the latest safety standards.
Wrap up warm
It’s a lot cheaper to put on an extra jumper then switch on the heating for an extra hour or two. You can help keep warm by wearing several layers of clothing and cosy slippers. So, wrap up warm and curl up under a blanket if you’re sat watching TV or reading a book.