Getting ready for winter… CSE’s top DIY tips to save money on your energy bills
Along with our partners, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) continues to lobby the government for appropriate, meaningful support. But in the meantime, here’s some practical advice to help you prepare for the winter ahead.
These DIY top tips can be done now, before the weather turns. They’ll save energy and reduce your home’s carbon footprint too.
Save money with our DIY energy saving tips for winter
Most houses, particularly old ones, have cracks and gaps where warm air goes out and cold air blows in. Draught-proofing is easy and any competent DIYer can fix gaps between or around floorboards; around windows and doors; through the letterbox; where pipework comes through external walls; around the loft hatch; and around electrical fittings. There’s loads of information in our handy guide and you could save £100 or so off your bills…
It’s important to never block boiler flues, air bricks, or window trickle vents and avoid over draught-proofing windows in kitchens and bathrooms where the moist air needs to escape. Otherwise, you could end up with damp or mould problems.
Fit low-cost secondary glazing
About 10% of the heat loss from a typical house is through the windows. Secondary glazing can be a cost-effective way of reducing this heat loss and a good option if double glazing is too costly or you’re not allowed to install it in your home. Its easy enough to install yourself and quick to remove at the end of winter – we’ve got loads of information here. You’ll save around £!50 off your bills with this.
The most effective way of reducing your energy use long-term is insulating your home. We’ve got a selection of factsheets on our advice site that give you an overview of different types of insulation. If you’re on a low income or claiming means tested benefits, then you may be eligible for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to help with some of the costs. You could check with your energy supplier to see if they offer measures under the ECO, call our service and check with our advice team or see what support is available in your area using the Simple Energy Advice Service website tool.
The roof accounts for about 25% of heat loss in a typical house. Loft insulation is a simple and effective way to reduce your heating bills. You can even do some types yourself and still use your loft for storage.
Even if you already have some insulation, your loft may need a top-up. Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years, and it will pay for itself over and over again in that time. There’s more information about this here.
Lower your combi boiler’s flow temperature
The flow temperature is the temperature your boiler heats water to before sending it to your radiators. Lowering your flow temperature can save you 6-8% on your heating bill. Most gas combi boilers are set up to heat the water to 80°C. This video has information on how you can reduce the flow temperature from 80°C to around 60°C. You might need to experiment a bit and see what works for your home.
If it’s lower than 60 degrees, efficiency will be lost and note you should only turn down the flow temperature if you have a combi boiler. If you’ve got a boiler with a separate hot water tank, leave it because adjusting the setting could allow bacteria to grow.
Understand your heating system and controls
Understanding your home’s heating system will make sure you use it efficiently and effectively. There’s loads of support about using central heating controls here. If you’ve got night storage heaters, understand how they work here, and there’s lots more about heating and hot water in our energy advice section.
Use thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
TRVs can save you money because they allow you to heat individual rooms to different temperatures. You may want to keep your living room much warmer than rooms you use less often, like the bathroom for example. In rooms you don’t use, you could reduce the valve low enough to prevent any damp or condensation problems from occurring and turn it back up when needed. Using these and your heating controls properly could save around £160 per year on your bills.
Insulate your hot water tank
If you have a hot water boiler, insulating the water tank is a quick and easy win when it comes to saving money on your bills. You can get a boiler jacket easily at many DIY stores or online. It should be 80mm thick. A hot water cylinder jacket costs about £20 and will save you significantly more than that over a lifetime, around £100 per year.
If you can, insulate – or lag – any hot water pipes, and reduce the amount of time you have the hot water tank set for. This could save over 10% of your yearly hot water heating usage on top of hot water tank jacket savings.
Move furniture away from radiators
We know it’s so tempting to sit by the radiator when it’s cold, but large pieces of furniture next to radiators soak up huge amounts of heat. So move them away to enable hot air to circulate around your room.
We hope these fairly simple tips help you get ready for winter. There’s loads more information and advice in the advice section of this website. Do let us know how you get on. And if you’ve got your own energy saving DIY tops tips, share with us @HelloCSE on Twitter.