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Getting your home ready for winter

By Nicole Wilson

More than half the money we spend on energy goes on heating and hot water. So we've put together some low-cost tips to save on your energy bills while staying toasty indoors.

Illustration of a homeowner getting ready for winter

1. Give your radiators an MOT

Turning the radiators off in rooms you don’t use is a quick win for lowering your energy bills. But you want to make sure the ones you do use are working to their full potential.

Illustration of someone bleeding their radiator with a key
Air can often get trapped in your radiators, which makes them less effective. You’ll know this has happened if your radiators aren’t warm all the way to the top. Bleeding your radiators means getting rid of this extra air - you’ll need to use a screwdriver or a radiator key (depending on the type of radiator you have) to open a valve and let the air escape. Radiator keys cost around £1 and you can find them in any DIY shop. HomeServe has a helpful guide on how to bleed your radiators which might come in handy.

Giving them a clean can also make sure you’re getting the best out of each radiator. That’s because any dust build up between the fins can prevent the heat from escaping and warming up the room.

Some of the heat from your radiators escapes through the walls behind them. Radiator panels can stop this happening by slotting behind your radiator and reflecting the heat back into your room. You can go full Blue Peter and fashion your own using tin foil, but it’s worth investing in some reflective panels from your local DIY shop.

2. Chill-proof your windows

Insulating film is a cheap and effective way of keeping the heat in if you have single glazing. You can buy it from most DIY stores and it could save you up to £120 a year on your energy bills.

To insulate your windows, apply the film with double sided tape. Heat the film with a hairdryer to remove any wrinkles and shrink it into place.

Keep an eye out for any cracks around your window frames, too. If you can see light coming in from outside, then cold air can make its way in. A low-cost measure to keep heat where it should be is to use a caulk filler around your window frames to block up any gaps.

It’s important to leave any vents, grills or extractor fans unblocked to prevent damp and keep some air circulating around your home.

3. Cover your water pipes

Illustration of a pipe looking cosy in its lagging
Your hot water pipes can lose a lot of heat if left uncovered. This means your system needs to work harder to heat the water up again when you need it, which can be expensive.

You can buy foam tubing called lagging to put around your water pipes to stop the heat escaping. You don’t need any special tools to fit lagging, and it could even stop your pipes from freezing during the winter.

4. Take a look at your soft furnishings

Often overlooked for their energy-saving potential, a few tweaks to your soft furnishings can make a big difference to the temperature of your home.

10% of the heat lost in an average British home escapes through the floor. If you’ve got a hardwood floor, laying a rug can keep your toes warm while trapping cold air underneath.

Thick curtains are great at keeping the warmth in your room, too. Make sure to keep them open during the day to make the most of any natural heat and sunlight. A draught excluder is a cost-effective way to keep cold air from getting in under draughty doors.

Consider pulling sofas and armchairs away from any radiators so that your room can feel the benefit, rather than the back of your furniture.

5. Check your chimney

An open flue can create draughts through your room that bring the temperature down dramatically. A chimney balloon is an inflatable gadget that can stop the cold air from getting in. Or you could opt for a Chimney Sheep, which is a thick pad of wool attached to a handle. Either of these can help to plug the gap when your fireplace isn’t in use, and will save you around £15 a year. (Don’t worry about Father Christmas, he’ll find another way in.)

So there you have it, 5 low cost ways to winter-proof your home.

Energy saving shopping list

Illustration of someone shopping for energy saving equipment

  • Radiator key

  • Reflective radiator panels

  • Insulating film for windows

  • Caulk and caulking gun for filling gaps

  • Lagging for hot water pipes

  • Chimney balloon

  • Draught excluder

Other handy resources

If you own your home, and you’re eligible, you can get up to £5,000 for energy saving home improvements. The Green Homes Grant covers things like wall, floor or roof insulation, heat pumps and draught proofing. Find out more and check your eligibility.

You could get £140 off your winter energy bills with the Warm Home Discount. You might be eligible if you’re getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, or you’re on a low income.

We’ve written some more energy saving tips to help you lower your energy bills year-round. If you have any of your own, we’d love to hear them. Head over to the Bulb community and let us know.

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