The energy crisis that began back in 2021 has left us all looking for ways we can reduce heating bills and save money. According to the latest figures from the UK Government, the recent increase in the cost of gas and electricity means that a typical household with average energy use is now paying around £2,500 a year on their energy bills.
Government contributions to help households cover the increased cost of energy bills started in October 2022 for a period of six months so this is due to come to an end shortly which leaves households having to cover the shortfall themselves. So we are now faced with trying to find ways to reduce heating costs and save money so we don’t end up with massive bills to pay.
12 Ways to Reduce Heating Bills
1. Stop Draughts
Firstly, look at draught-proofing your home. Having heat leak out of your home is a surefire way to throw money down the drain. One of the most effective ways to save energy, money and carbon is to have your home professionally draught-proofed. This usually includes the windows, doors, floors and skirting boards and will cost roughly £240. However, the investment pays for itself in as little as two years as you will likely save £125 a year. It’s worth remembering to draught-proof an open chimney as this could save you an additional £90 a year on energy bills.
2. Install Heavy Curtains or Blinds
Once you have draught-proofed your windows, you can further prevent heat loss by choosing heavy curtains. Heat loss through windows accounts for roughly 25-30% of energy use in our homes so curtains with a thermal lining can be great for reducing heating costs in the home.
According to Hilary’s, their made-to-measure thermal curtains can help reduce heat loss through windows by up to 41%. And don’t forget to draw your curtains as it gets dark on an evening to maximise the benefits.
3. Choose Thermal Underlay
Underlay from Simply Underlay
While we are talking about draught-proofing the floors, it is wise to invest in a thermal underlay to stop heat loss. Thermal underlays are designed to trap heat, prevent heat loss and stop cold air from penetrating the room from a cold concrete subfloor or through draughty floorboards.
When looking for thermal underlay, it’s all about the tog rating. Any underlay with a tog rating of 2.0 or above will be good for keeping your rooms warmer and helping to minimise heating bills.
4. Choose Carpet over Hard Floors
If you are looking to replace your flooring, think carefully about what you will opt for. Wood and laminate are naturally colder underfoot than carpet, taking longer to heat up and making the room ‘feel’ warm. Choosing carpet is an easy way to make your home feel warm and comfortable.
5. Upgrade your Boiler
Heating and hot water make up 50% of our annual household energy bills so making sure that the boiler is working efficiently is an absolute must if you are looking for tips for reducing energy bills.
Signs to look out for that show it’s time to replace your boiler may include funny smells, changes in noise or volume, a yellow flame (the boiler flame should be blue), water leaks, radiators taking longer to heat up, the pressure needing to be frequently adjusted, the boiler breaking down or higher than normal bills.
It is not cheap to replace a boiler though. The average cost to replace a gas boiler with thermostatic radiator valves comes in at £4k and an oil boiler is slightly more at £4.7k.
However, after the initial investment, you could cut your heating bills by up to £840* per year according to the Energy Savings Trust.
6. Upgrade your Heating Controls
Making sure that your heating controls are efficient is another way to reduce heating costs in the home. The type of heating controls that you can have will largely depend on the heating system that you have in place but ensuring you have maximum control will enable maximum savings.
Whether you opt for a timer system, a programmer, weather-compensating or load-compensating thermostats or a smart thermostat heating system, making sure that the house is only heated when necessary is the best way to reduce heating bills. According to The Energy Savings Trust, installing and correctly using a programmer room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves could save you £180 each year in an average semi-detached house.
Also, think about turning down your thermostat if you can. The UK government recommends a minimum temperature of 18c and the average household temperature is anywhere between 18-21c. If you are able to turn it down by 1c you can save up to £145 per year.
7. Insulate Tanks, Pipes and Radiators
A further way to lower your heating bills is to ensure you insulate your hot water cylinder. According to The Energy Saving Trust, topping up your hot water tank insulation from 25mm to 80mm thick, using a British Standard jacket, could save you around £70 a year, which is more than the cost of the jacket.
It also pays to insulate all exposed hot water pipes as this will keep the water hotter for longer. This is easy to do if you can access the pipes easily, otherwise, you may need to call in the professionals.
Finally, look at installing radiator reflector panels behind any radiators that are fixed to external walls. These will reflect heat from the radiator back into the room and prevent it from escaping through the wall.
8. Insulate your Loft
If your home is uninsulated, you will lose approximately 25% of the heat through the roof. Unless you live in a mid-floor flat, it is essential to make sure that your roof is adequately insulated. You should have at least 270mm of insulation as this will save you around £35 each year on your bills. If you have less than this you should consider topping up. As long as you have no issues in the loft and it is easy to access it is quite a straightforward DIY job.
9. Install Cavity Wall Insulation
For years, we thought our home had cavity wall insulation because it said it did when we bought the flat. However, as time went on we had our doubts and eventually called in a professional to do some investigating. Turns out we didn’t. That meant that about a third of all the heat lost from our home was escaping through the walls. Insulating your cavity walls could save around £395 a year on your energy bills and cut your carbon footprint by 670kg.
10. Replace Single-Glazed Windows
If you live in an older building that has single-glazing, it’s definitely worth looking into upgrading your windows. Whether that means installing brand-new double-glazed windows or secondary glazing, making sure you are not losing heat through old or poor-quality windows is imperative if you are looking to keep heating costs at a minimum.
11. Install Solar Panels
Installing solar panels may be out of budget if you are not looking to do any large-scale upgrades, however, it is worth noting there are government schemes that help with the cost of solar panels. Whilst the upfront costs can be a lot, you could save up to £325 a year on your bills (based on a typical installation with occupants home from 6 pm, in north England).
12. Switch to a Heat Pump
New government legislation means gas boilers will be banned in all new homes built after 2025. This means that new homes will need an alternative heating system, such as heat pumps for example. In May 2022, the government also introduced a Boiler Upgrade Scheme designed to encourage homeowners to switch to low-carbon heating systems by providing grants to help with the transition.
Heat pumps are heralded as an attractive longer-term, sustainable heating option. The most common heat pump for homes is an air source heat pump, which generally costs around £7k – £13k to install. However, it can save you anywhere between £230 and £1500 per year on your energy bills for an average-sized, three-bedroom semi-detached home, with radiator upgrades as required. The exact amount you will save depends on the system you are replacing.
Have you taken any steps to reduce heating bills in your home? If so what have you done and which ones have you found to be most effective?