Stay warm at home for cheap
Living in a cold home is bad for your physical and mental health. It can raise blood pressure and lead to serious conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and pneumonia, as well as social isolation, sleep deprivation, depression, and anxiety.
People with existing health conditions are especially vulnerable, particularly physical conditions like asthma, circulatory problems, diabetes, arthritis, and mental health issues.
It’s so important to keep your home warm. The rooms you spend most of your time in should be between 18 and 21°C, which should keep you warm enough and avoid damp building up in your home.
If you feel you can’t afford to do this, the following tips will help you find the best ways to keep your home warm, for less money.
1. Prioritise one room to heat
Which room do you spend most of your time in? Prioritising this room will keep your overall heating costs down, as you won’t be trying to heat your whole home.
If you’re unsure which room to choose, remember that the smaller the room, the cheaper it is to heat. You may also notice that one room is naturally warmer than others, for example if a room gets more heat from the sun.
Although gas and oil prices have risen, they’re cheaper than electricity. If you have a gas, LPG or oil boiler, it’s cheaper to use than a plug-in electric heater.
Turn the heating down in rooms you use less often using the radiator valves. You can also put reflective panels – which can be bought cheaply online or in DIY stores – behind any radiators on external walls to reflect heat into the room and minimise the heat lost to the outside.
If you use an electric heater, place it away from windows and external walls. Avoid using portable gas heaters as they are a fire hazard and can make your home feel damp, making it feel colder.
If you have electric night storage heaters, turn them all down apart from in the room you’re prioritising. Here we have tips for using night storage heaters.
2. Get rid of draughts
Make sure the heat you’re paying for stays in the space you’re heating. On average, 15% of the money to heat your home is lost to draughts. Simple draughtproofing measures will save you money and keep the warmth where it belongs. You can read more about draughtproofing here.
- Keep doors in your home closed.
- Hang curtains – or bedsheets, rugs, blankets – over external doors.
- Cover keyholes and letter boxes.
- Use draught excluders or rolled-up blankets to block gaps under doors.
- Use draughtproofing strips, which you can find online or in DIY stores, to improve the seal of your window frames.
- Add curtain liners, or blankets, to your curtains to help keep heat in the room.
- Close your curtains at dusk and open them in the morning to allow the sun to warm the room.
- Tuck curtains behind radiators.
Floors and walls
- If you don’t have carpeted floors, cover them with rugs, carpets, or even blankets, so they’re warmer on your feet. They’ll also block any gaps between wooden slats on wooden flooring.
- Fill in the gaps in your floorboards and skirting boards.
- Move sofas and chairs away from external walls as sitting near them will be colder.
- Leave a gap of 6 inches or more between furniture and radiators to allow heat to spread around the room.
3. Wrap up warm
Wearing more layers will keep you warm at home without using more heating.
- Wear thick, warm socks and slippers. Boot-style slippers work best as they cover your feet and ankles.
- Tuck your trousers into your socks or slippers to prevent cold air from getting in.
- Wearing a hat, gloves, scarf or coat indoors may make you feel a bit silly, but will help keep you nice and warm.
- Wear lots of layers (e.g. leggings, tights or long johns under your trousers). Thin layers will keep you warmer than a single thicker layer.
- Materials such as wool or fleece are very good at keeping you warm.
4. Move around
If you’re mobile, keeping active will generate internal heat, which will help you to stay warm. Break up periods of sitting down with periods of activity. It doesn’t need to be too strenuous, a walk around your home or on the spot can help. Avoid doing anything that will make you sweat, as sweat will cool you down.
Many people find going for a walk outside helps them to feel warmer when they get home, and is good for their mental health.
5. Use a heated throw, or a blanket or sleeping bag
A heated throw or blanket is a sound investment to get cosy at home. They only cost 2p an hour to run, which is about £3.36 a week if you have it on day and night. They cost around £50 to buy, but you’ll be able to turn your heating down, saving you money, and the throw will pay for itself within a month.
They’re also portable, so you can carry them with you so you don’t get cold while moving around your home. Other heated items that cost less than 2p an hour to run are heated pads and floor mats, electric blankets and microwavable wheat bags.
If you can’t afford a heated throw, a fluffy blanket or sleeping bag will help to keep you warm at home. To maximise warmth when sleeping, make sure you place any blankets underneath your duvet rather than on top. You might also consider wearing cosy pyjamas.
6. Make hot food and drinks
Eating hot food and drinking hot drinks raises your internal temperature, so have frequent hot drinks and regular hot meals during the day. The cheapest way to heat food and drinks is to only boil the water you need and use a microwave where possible.
7. Find warm spaces
Many councils are making designated ‘Warm Hubs’, which are heated public places you can spend time for free and keep warm. Find out if there are any in your area. If there aren’t, many community buildings, such as churches, libraries and museums, offer free entry and activities. Some community venues might also offer cheap or free hot meals.
If you have friends and family nearby, you can set up regular meet-ups so you’re not all heating your homes at once. You could take turns to host at each other’s homes and share a hot meal to reduce your collected energy use.
8. Prevent damp and mould
Damp causes homes to feel colder, and it’s bad for your health. We produce a lot of moisture when we cook, shower and dry clothes. All this moisture has to go somewhere, and if it’s trapped in your home, it’ll cause damp and mould. To keep your home warm, dry and mould-free:
- Keep the doors closed and windows open in rooms where you’re showering, cooking or drying laundry. If you have extractor fans, use them.
- Keep furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate.
- Clean mould off the walls to stop the mould spores from spreading.
- Dry your clothes outside, when possible. If you can’t do this, use the fastest spin speed on your washing machine to get as much moisture out as possible before you hang them to dry. Avoid hanging clothes on warm radiators because it increases the humidity in your home. Instead, hang them in a room with the door closed and the window open.
We have more information about condensation, damp and mould that you can read here.