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How To Keep Family Heating Bills Down This Winter

Winter nights are drawing in, cold, wet weather is here and it’s time to switch the heating on, but how can you make savings to your bills?

With 50% of the energy used in homes going on heating, looking at ways you can conserve heat and so save on your bills is vital for anyone, but particularly if you’re a new mum who already has plenty of baby-related expenses to think about.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can take control of your heating. Richard Kay from the Energy Saving Trust, suggests simple tricks to save pennies on heating bills.

Turn the thermostat down

It seems obvious, but many of us have our central heating set higher than we need (it’s recommended  you keep it between 18-21°C), or on without even realising. Every degree you reduce it will make an additional saving to your heating bill. In fact, turning your thermostat down by just 1°C can cut it by £75 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Insulate, insulate, insulate

Around a third of all the heat lost in an uninsulated home goes through the walls, while a quarter of heat is lost through the roof. A better insulated home is an investment, but it can make big long-term savings. For example, fitting loft insulation in a semi-detached house costs £300, but you could make £150 of this cost back on savings on your heating bill per year. You’ll have made the whole cost of the insulation back within two years.

Fit draught excluders

Draught proofing your windows, doors and odd little holes around the home can be a great way of stopping heat escaping. Draught-proofing products are available in most DIY shops, potentially saving you up to £30 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. These include draught excluders to fit to the bottom of doors, good quality curtains to save heat from escaping through windows, silicone skirting boards sealant and chimney draught excluders.

Understand how your heating works

At this time of year, it’s tempting to crank up the thermostat dial as soon as you get in from the cold. However, you don’t actually need to do this because the thermostat works to maintain the same temperature in the home whatever the weather. If you’re feeling chilly, put on a jumper for 20 minutes and give yourself time to warm up.

Set your heating on a timer

Many heating systems can be set up on a timer system. These automatically switch your heating off when you’re not at home, or when you can do without the heating being on. Programmes allow you to set ‘on’ and ‘off’ time periods. Most models will let you set the central heating and domestic hot water to go on and off at different times. And if there is an unexpected cold spell, there’s often a manual override option.

You should set the central heating programme to come on half an hour before you get up, and go off half an hour before you go to bed.

And if the house is empty during the day, or you can manage without heating during the day, make sure you’ve set the programmer to go off for this period too. Check that the clock on the programmer is correct before you set your programmes and remember to adjust it when the clocks change.

Don’t turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker

We have all been guilty of turning the room thermostat up when we want the room to heat up more quickly. In fact, this doesn’t help your home get warmer any quicker and merely heats it to a warmer temperature. It’s also easy to forget to turn it down once it becomes warm.

Fit reflective radiator panels

With radiators fitted to walls, it’s very easy for the heat to escape straight through the wall. However, fitting silver reflective panels behind the radiator will help to reduce heat loss by reflecting heat back into the room.

Shut that door!

Radiators, electric panel heaters and convection heaters all work by creating a convection current in a room. As hot air rises, it circles around to the other side of the room, cools and sinks and travels back along the floor to the heater to be reheated again. Make sure you close doors as that will mean the warm air current stays in the room.

- For more information on saving money on your winter bills, visit or call the Energy Saving Advice Service (England and Wales) on 0300 123 1234.

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