A wise man said that raising the temperature is always expensive. He was referring to relationships and how heated arguments caused lasting animosity; emotionally, this was expensive. He could well have been referring to home heating. In winter, raising the temperature of a home by just one degree can substantially increase the heating bill. Looked at another way, the home appliances that use most energy are those that raise the temperature: heaters, boilers, cookers, and even some types of lighting.
Obviously, the best way to cut your energy bills is to use less of it. There are three ways to do this. The first and easiest is not to heat your home at all; that’s hardly a runner. The second is to heat it less and endure a cooler house; if it’s overdone, that may not be very comfortable. The third and ideal method is to heat it to a comfortable temperature but use less energy in doing so; the best means of achieving that is to reduce heat-loss. Heat-loss is reduced by insulation and draft elimination. Here are ten measures you can take to reduce your heating bill. The first three are relatively expensive but have a significant impact on heat-loss. The remainder are much less expensive and can be implemented quickly by any homeowner.
More Expensive Measures to Cut Heating Bills
1) Insulate your Attic
Attic insulation is one of the most cost-effective measures for preventing heat-loss. As hot air rises, much room heat ends up heating the attic. Attic insulation could be regarded as either an expensive, or a not so expensive measure. This depends on whether you employ a contractor, or do it yourself. Though time-consuming, it can easily be carried out by the average householder and the materials are on sale in most hardware and DIY stores.
If you go to the trouble of clearing the attic to lay insulation, you might consider going a step further and put in an attic floor. Apart from the obvious benefits of a floored attic, the efficiency of the insulation beneath it is improved.
2) Insulate Exterior walls
If you live in an apartment, or in a terraced house, heat loss is usually not very significant. Insulating the limited areas of external walls is not such a huge job, simply because most walls are interior.
A detached house benefits greatly from wall insulation. Depending on the type of building, there are several methods of insulating. If the exterior walls are concrete or stone cavity walls, effectively two walls a few inches apart, it is possible to insulate the cavity. If the walls are solid concrete, or stone, insulation can be applied to the interior or exterior walls. The cavity wall remedy is the least expensive option for suitable concrete walls.
Modern wooden houses are usually well insulated at the time of manufacture or assembly, yet, it is worthwhile verifying this. If it is found that insulation is needed, this can be applied to the interior walls.
3) Install Double-Glazing
Most modern homes have double-glazing and most use thermally efficient glass designed to minimize heat-loss. In some cases, it is possible to convert single-glazed window frames to double. However, this is usually not a viable option and the existing windows have to be replaced. Well-made new windows have the advantage of being tight fitting. Consequently, unlike many old windows, they should be completely draft-free and remain so for many years. The manufacturer’s warranty should guarantee this.
Less Expensive Measures to Cut Heating Bills
4) Use Draft-Proofing
The more obvious drafts come from doors and windows that don’t close properly, and gaps around their frames. Badly fitting doors and windows are responsible for huge heat-loss. Less obvious culprits are letterboxes in hall-doors, the gaps between floorboards, chimneys, and badly fitted ventilation grills.
Significantly reducing these drafts is simple using draft-proofing products available from hardware and DIY stores. A carpet with a good-quality underlay eliminates most drafts coming from floorboards.
5) Don’t Heat Unused Areas
Turn off heating in rooms that are not used for extended periods during the day.
6) Take Advantage of the Sun
Open curtains in rooms that receive direct sunlight, and to retain captured heat, close them when the sun is gone.
7) Install Radiator Thermostats
Some rooms need less heat than others. With individual thermostats on each radiator, you can control the temperature of each room, rather than having the entire house at the same temperature. This measure results in big savings over a year.
8) Heat Hot Water Only When You Need It
Most heating boilers can heat the house radiators and the hot water tank. Very hot water is rarely needed all day. Set the boiler timer so that water is heated only when it is needed for showers and baths and then switch it off. There will usually be enough residual hot water for sinks.
9) Dress Appropriately
Why increase the central heating temperature, so that you can hang around the house in a short-sleeve shirt when it’s freezing outside? Dressing more appropriately (perhaps long-sleeve shirt and light sweater) means you can keep the heating a degree or two lower. You’ll save money and still feel warm.
10) Reduce Central Heating Temperature While Sleeping
Most people sleep better when the air temperature is significantly lower that when they are awake. Yet many people are in the habit of sleeping with the heating set unnecessarily high; only the owners of the utility company get a good night’s sleep that way.
Obviously, everyone’s circumstances are different. Not all these measures are appropriate for every householder. But everyone will profit from implementing even a few. Taking the time to work out which ones would work best for you is a very worthwhile exercise that will yield significant savings.