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Handy hints to heat your home for less this winter

By Alan Beresford

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Some simple hacks could save you money on your energy bills.
Some simple hacks could save you money on your energy bills.

WITH temperatures plummeting and energy bills rising, it can be hard to strike a balance between keeping warm and comfortably staying within your monthly budget.

Nobody should have to endure the discomfort of a cold home.

An icy environment can cause numerous health complaints, ranging from common colds and sleep deprivation to bad circulation and asthma.

During the day, the rooms you occupy should ideally be heated between 19 and 21 degrees. The recommended temperature lowers slightly to 18 degrees at night-time. If the temperature inside your home is below 15-16 degrees, this could increase your risk of respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis and cold-induced asthma.

Brisk temperatures indoors are not only bad for your health, but also for your home. In a cold, unheated house, condensation on walls and windows could result in black mould if left untreated. When inhaled, mould spores can be damaging to our respiratory health and, in addition to this, untreated mould can actually cause damage to the structure of your house.

While the cost-of-living crisis has left many of us reluctant to turn the heating on, it’s as important as ever to stay warm this winter.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to heat your home for less, while staying snug.

Dan Whittaker, personal finance expert at vivamoney.co.uk, shares some cost-effective ways to heat your home on a budget this winter.

1. Layer up

“Once you start to feel the cold it can be tricky to warm up again, especially if you’re sat at home without the heating on. Prevent this from happening by piling on the layers as soon as you get up. Start with a base layer, such as a cotton t-shirt or vest, then add a long-sleeved top followed by a hoodie. Tucking your trousers into your socks might not win you any fashion points, but it will certainly help to keep any draughts out! As feet are the furthest away from the heart, they often take the longest to heat. Help to speed things up by popping on a pair of thick socks and slippers.”

2. Electric dreams

“Electric blankets can help slash the cost of gas and electricity bills.

“It’s estimated that electric blankets cost approximately 2.7p per hour to run, compared to the staggering average for central heating, which works out at £1.68 per hour for someone with a 24 kW boiler.

“In the winter, there are few things worse than getting out of a toasty bed and dressing in cold clothes. Before you put the heating on, consider plugging the electric blanket in for a few minutes and use it to cover your clothes while you shower or have breakfast. In just 15 minutes, your clothes should be cosy at a fraction of the cost.

“Electric blankets are widely available both online and on the high street. Prices tend to range from £20 to around £100, depending on size and heat settings. While this may seem like a large cost upfront, it could save you money in the long run.”

3. Home hacks

“There are small changes we can make around the house to promote warmth without putting the heating on. Make sure all doorways are blocked by draught excluders, and aim to cover stone or laminate floors with rugs. Even something as simple as rearranging the position of your furniture could make a huge difference to the overall temperature of your home. For example, moving your sofa away from any radiators can prevent the heat from being blocked, and allow it to spread more evenly around the room.

“Short on cash? Don’t worry – DIY draught excluders can be fashioned easily from an old pair of tights stuffed with unwanted scraps of material and socks.”

4. Curtain call

“Open your curtains during daylight hours throughout the winter. It’s important to allow as much natural sunlight into your rooms as possible. The room will soak up the sun and retain some of its heat, giving your house a natural boost of warmth. Remember to close the curtains as soon as daylight fades. If your radiator is underneath a window, tuck your curtains behind the radiator to avoid heat loss.

“For an extra level of protection, you may wish to replace standard curtains with the thermal kind. Thermal curtains can be purchased from shops such as Dunelm for as little as £12, depending on the size.”

5. Work(out) from home

“Sitting still for hours at a time can reduce blood circulation and leave you feeling chilly. This could be especially problematic if you work from home and spend prolonged periods of time sat in front of a computer.

“Nothing puts a glow in your cheeks quite like a good old workout! Warm up the natural way by grabbing a quick 10 minutes of exercise in your own home. Try jogging on the spot while waiting for the kettle to boil, or running up and down the stairs a few times between Zoom calls.

“YouTube boasts a whole host of home workout videos, from gentle dance classes to more intense sessions for the seasoned gym bunny. Find an activity that feels fun to you and just keep moving!”

6. Check to see if you’re eligible for any grants

“There are a number of grants, benefits and vouchers available for those who are struggling to pay their electricity bills.

“Fuel vouchers are just one example of help you could be entitled to if you cannot afford to top-up your prepaid meter.

“You can find out more about the different schemes and check your eligibility on gov.uk and Citizens Advice websites.

“In 2023, £100 million worth of energy support vouchers in the UK went unclaimed, so even if you don’t think you qualify, it’s always worth checking.”

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