With the scorching summer a distant memory, many people are now bracing themselves for a tightening of their belts this winter.
Colder weather, soaring energy prices, high inflation and rising prices across all areas of the economy mean a bleak winter ahead.
And to be clear, there is no £2,500 cap on energy bills. Instead, the new October 1 guarantee, like the old caps, means a daily charge of 28p for gas and 46p for electricity and unit rates are 10p per kWh for gas and 34p per kWh for electricity – so if you use more you pay more.
So, what can you do to help keep your energy usage down?
- Service the boiler
If you are a landlord, boilers must be serviced annually as part of obligatory gas safety checks. It is worth servicing them just before tenants turn them on in the autumn cold to ensure they are operating efficiently. Whether you are a landlord or not, servicing them in the autumn can mean heading off any problems early and it’s never a false economy to get them checked out. If you leave it til later in the winter, chances are gas engineers will be busier and it may be harder, and more expensive, to call them out at short notice.
- Bleed the radiators
Radiators which function at full capacity will always work better so make sure they are well-bled. Over time, air can become trapped, making them less efficient and increasing the amount of energy needed to heat the property. Without being bled regularly, it can cause the heating system to go into overdrive and potentially fail, resulting in expensive callout charges.
- Don’t put clothes on the radiators to dry
Talking of radiators, it may seem like a sensible option but don’t be tempted to put your wet clothes on warm radiators. Not only can it cause damp and condensation, but it also causes the boiler to work extra hard to pump out the heat, thus increasing energy usage. It also damages your clothes. Far better to get a heated air dryer, available from places such as Lakeland. It costs pennies per hour to use and is much better for the environment and your clothes.
- Cover all bases
Hardwood, laminate and tile floors look great, and in the summer can be lovely and cool. However, come the winter they can mean cold feet. If they are original wooden floorboards, they may also have gaps in them which will make the room even colder. Putting carpet down, adding rugs or plugging the gaps in the floorboards will all help retain heat and keep your feet toasty warm.
- Seal your windows
Self-adhesive window film is another quick win in the battle to reduce energy consumption. Apply it over window glass to help the home to retain heat as temperatures dip outside. If you can afford to do so invest in double or even triple glazing. This can really help keep energy costs down but is a long term investment.
- Use water wisely
Showering rather than having a bath uses on average less water and less energy to heat it. You may also want to consider changing your shower head to an eco-version.
- Insulate yourself
Insulation of any kind, whether it’s loft or cavity wall, can really help reduce costs. Although a long term measure cost-wise, the effects will be instant and will save you money in the long run. Added to this, make sure you draught-proof your home. Go round the house and plug any gaps. Look at windows, floors and doors in particular but don’t forget loft hatches or the roof.
- Switch off
Another easy win is to get into the habit of turning off lights and gadgets when they are not in use. While they may not save you huge amounts, at a time when energy prices are rising, every little helps. Plus it’s good for the environment too!
- Invest in a slow cooker
Slow cookers are a great investment as they are much less expensive to run than an oven. Prices can range from £25 to £65 for a good one but they all do much the same thing. If you choose a larger one you will be able to do batch cooking and freeze what you don’t use immediately. Microwaves are also a cheaper alternative to using an oven.
- Pack your freezer
Packing your freezer full of food means it has to work less hard to keep things cold and therefore uses less energy.