Home heating and how to minimise winter bills

home heating thermostat

As summer recedes and we begin to contemplate those long winter nights, it’s worth taking a look at the way in which we heat the home. Tempting though it is to simply put the heating on, turn up the thermostat and close the curtains, this could result in higher energy bills.

Most of the energy we use in our homes is used for space heating. This uses up two thirds of the energy we use and accounts for half of household bills. Adding water heating to the equation accounts for two thirds of household bills.

The World Health Organisation recommends that house temperatures should be at least 16 degrees centigrade but our homes are often kept much warmer than this. Reducing the thermostat setting by just one degree centigrade can reduce home heating bills by 10% but there are other ways of keeping the costs down.

The best way to save money on household heating is to reduce heat loss. If you’re a homeowner then good quality insulation will do the trick, but the best option for renters is better control over heating systems.


Heat loss is likely through badly fitted windows and doors. However, many of us overlook other areas such as loft hatches, letterboxes, electricity wall fittings, gaps in floorboards and pipework. Blocking the gaps can make a big difference. Ventilation that can be reduced by draught proofing these areas can save around 15% of the heat loss in the average home. Other major sources of heat loss are the walls (35%), roof (20%), windows (15%) and floorboards (10%).

To put insulation into perspective, a Passive House uses just 15 kWh/m2a, whereas an average uninsulated detached home can use 300 kWh. The typical cost of heating the average home to 20 degrees centigrade is around £700 but this ranges from £1,000 for a badly insulated house to £500 for a modern home and £50 for a Passive House.


Home thermostats are designed to maintain internal building temperatures so if you need to turn them up, they aren’t doing their job correctly. Neither will turning up the thermostat make a room heat up faster – it will only heat it up to a higher temperature. Installing thermostats and thermostatic radiators can save as much as £150 per annum in energy costs.

Timing controls

Leaving the heating on low when you aren’t there isn’t going to make it any warmer when you return – it will still be too cold and you still need to raise the temperature. Equally you don’t need your home to be as warm at night when you are asleep. You don’t always need the same temperatures in every room and thermostatic radiators will help keep bedrooms and kitchens cooler while living rooms and bathrooms can be warmer.

Use timing controls to manage your heating so that when you get up in the morning or come home in the evening. During the day and overnight, you can save money.

Hot water

Hot water tanks that are properly insulated will keep water warm for half a day. You don’t need to keep water heated constantly – just make sure it heats up before you need it.

Heating the home using standard electric heating is likely to cost over three times as much as a home heated by gas central heating. If you aren’t able to heat your home using wood, oil or heat pumps, take advantage of cheaper night tariff electricity. However, remember that electric storage heaters are not designed to save energy by being left on constantly. They are designed to take advantage of cheaper night tariffs.

Hidden costs

Most UK homes have gadgets and gizmos with standby lights that are switched on when the appliance isn’t in use. Indeed, the average number of electronic appliances in a four-person home, such as TVs and laptops, has risen from four to thirteen since 1990! However, these appliances can use as much as £30 per year, the most expensive being entertainment related items such as set top boxes, laptop chargers and games consoles.

If you can’t afford to install a smart thermostat (£150 annual saving) or replace the boiler (£300 saving), here are a few simple ways to make a difference with what you’ve got:

  • Turn of appliances on standby (£30 saving
  • Lower the thermostat temperature (£75 saving)
  • Reduce washing temperatures (£52 saving)
  • Use energy efficient appliances

A survey report from a Chartered Surveyor will provide you with a review of your property’s condition with advice on what might need to be done to the property before exchange of contracts. Contact us for advice on getting the right survey for your needs.

Back to October 2019 Newsletter

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