Control the Beast – keep your house warmer this winter (and next) while keeping heating costs down

As the Beast from the East arrived in the UK from Siberia, many of us experienced temperatures as low as -8C or even colder. It’s tempting to keep your house warm by simply turning up the heating and suffer the financial consequences later on. However some people, the elderly in particular, worry so much about adding to their heating bill that they end up suffering needlessly.

Temperatures are predicted to plummet further as the winter continues, so here are a few practical tips on how to keep you and your house warmer without using more fuel.

Allow warm air to circulate in rooms

Radiators naturally circulate warm air around a room but must be kept clear of obstacles. If you have placed furniture – a sofa or bed perhaps – in front of the radiator, it may be absorbing the heat. Move furniture away from in front of the radiator to allow heat to circulate more efficiently around the room.

Use the oven to cook

Using the oven to cook creates a huge amount of heat in the kitchen. Plan meals that use the oven during particularly cold spells. If you do use the oven think about whether you also need to have a radiator on in the kitchen.

Block draughts

Even with double glazing, uninsulated doors and window openings can let in damp, cold air and draughts. Use a draught excluder under doors and make sure window openings are properly insulated.

Bleed radiators

Trapped air in radiators can make them less effective, so make sure you bleed them annually.

Most radiators can be bled through the valve at the top, using a simple radiator key available from DIY stores. Before you begin, hold an absorbent cloth below the valve, then slowly and gently turn it with the key. (Don’t try to remove the valve, just ease it!) Once the air is released (you will hear a hissing sound) and you begin to see water, you can close the valve.

Insulate the wall behind the radiator

If the wall behind your radiators isn’t insulated, you may be heating up the wall behind it as much as you are heating your room. Ensure that radiator heat is directed into the room, rather than the wall behind it, by insulating the wall behind.

DIY retailers sell rolls of radiator insulation foil that will reflect heat back into the room, and it’s cheap and easy to install. While it might seem a good idea to install tin foil-covered card instead, it’s not easy to install it crinkle-free, and it will be less effective.

Lag pipes

Use simple foam pipe insulation on hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and save money. It’s easy to install and available from DIY retailers.

Put down rugs

Many of us enjoy the many benefits of hardwood or laminate flooring it’s practical, hardwearing and easy to clean. But it can also be cold and, in the case of exposed floorboards, draughty. You can keep your feet warm with a cosy pair of slippers – or keep the room warmer by putting down rugs to stop heat from escaping through the floor.

Here are some other ways simple to keep down fuel costs:

  1. Switch the lights off when you leave the room
  2. Turn off appliances rather than leaving them on standby
  3. Don’t overfill the kettle – boil only what you need
  4. Replace standard light bulbs with energy-saving ones
  5. Turn down the washing machine to 30C
  6. Consider having a shower instead of a bath as this uses less hot water and therefore saves on heating costs
  7. To save hot water, use a washing-up bowl rather than washing up under a running tap
  8. Defrost your fridge or freezer regularly to keep it running well and cut running costs

Read more on home insulation in our article: How to insulate your home