Push Down Your Bills

Save money and energy with these sneaky tips

When the weather turns colder, you’ll inevitably find yourself hugging your radiator to stave off the chill – and it’s no secret that the cost of heating can take a fair chunk out of your monthly budget.

Tony Rollinson from Permaculture tells us when keeping warm, the first place to look is at yourself.

“Turn down the heating by just one or two percent, enjoy wearing those lovely woolly jumpers and socks that our parents and grandparents used to, and go for a walk after your evening meal.”

But what about when you get home after that walk?

After the pre-Christmas price increases of both gas and electricity supplies, there’s even more reason to hold back on turning up the thermostat. But with these sneaky tips, you could save yourself the cost of switching up your central heating to the max – and they’re all easy as pie to install.

Tip 1: It’s a Wrap on your Windows

Push Down Your Bills
The installation of double glazing can save you around £170 a year, but whether your digs is set up with double glazing or not, there’s a surprising stationary staple which can help you out against the chill.

The construction of the bubble wrap means that the small pockets of air provide a buffer between the cold air on the outside of the glass and the warm air inside your home. It can also be purchased relatively cheaply, with a large roll available for less than £10.

Installation of the bubble wrap is incredibly simple and requires no adhesive.

  1.    Cut sheets of the wrap according to your window height

  2.    Use a spray bottle filled with water to apply a light mist onto your window.

  3.    Press the bubble wrap onto the windows – it works best if you apply it vertically. The water will act as an effective seal which will hold it in place.

If your windows are only single glazed, you’ll be losing up to 20% of heat through them. This method can cut the loss by around 10%*


Cost: Under £10

Saving: £70-£100 per year**

*based on standard heat loss from a single glazed home.

**Saving calculations based on 4hrs a day max radiator output (800W to 1200W)


Tip 2: Save While You Sleep

The temperature of your room is an important factor in ensuring that your sleep is not disrupted. In fact, the optimum temperature you should be looking at is between thirteen and twenty-four degrees.

But there’s no need to set the heating on all night to keep you from night chills – simply investing in a higher tog duvet can eradicate the need for overnight heating altogether.

Take a look at how much a tog rating affects the thermal conductance of your duvet:

duvet tog graph

Source: mrreid.org

Push Down Your Bills

The heat output by the human body drops while you sleep, and is usually at its lowest around 2am (depending on whether you’ve got a normal sleep pattern). Heat from your body can be retained and conducted much better with a higher tog duvet – effectively, you can keep yourself warm with your own body heat!

So, under a 12 tog winter duvet, you’ll only suffer a net heat loss once the temperature of the room has dropped below 15°C compared to 22°C with an 8 tog duvet. Now, you can turn that thermostat down and save money.

  1.   Take a look at the tog of your duvet.
  2.   If it’s a low tog, double it up with a second duvet or invest in a higher tog.
  3.   Turn down your thermostat or heaters

Cost: From £18

Saving: £90-£175 a year*

* Based on 1°C reduction on thermostat would save £25 per year and an 8 hour average sleep


Tip 3: It’s Curtains for High Heating Bills

Push Down Your Bills

As previously highlighted,  a significant amount of heat can be lost through the windows of your home.

 Thick curtains with a thermal lining are one of the best options of reducing this heat loss and according to Carl Brennand of Moneymagpie, “the thicker the better.”

However, if you don’t want to or can’t afford to splash out on new curtains there are a number of options for lining them to reduce heat loss.

You can use cheap materials such as fleece, but for the ultimate thrifty trick use a shower curtain to line your curtains.

If you don’t have a spare one lying around, you can pop to the shops and get one for as little as a few pounds. Quite the reduction compared to the price of thermal curtains!

  1. Get your hands on a standard shower curtain with plastic hooks for hanging
  2. Between your curtains and window, hook the shower curtain on the curtain rail, spacing the hooks evenly.

Cost: From £3

Saving: £10-30 per year**

** Based on average yearly heating being 160W and average heat retention of 80W


Tip 4: Foiling the Frost

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Sophie Neuburg has the low-down on preventing heat loss from radiators; you could be losing a fair bit of heat through walls behind them.

Your radiator, if it is single panel, is most likely to have 50% of the surface area facing the wall. Double panel radiators only have 25% facing the wall – but that’s a lot of potential for heat to go straight through the wall.

If you have a poorly insulated wall, that heat isn’t getting reflected back into the room. So take action!

  1.   Get hold of some good quality tin foil
  2.   Using adhesive, attach the foil to the wall behind the radiator.
  3.   Thicker foil provides more effective heat-reflecting properties

Cost: Under £5

Saving: £20-£30 per year*

*Based on poorly insulated/exterior wall heat loss


Tip 5: Ditching the Draught

Ecological interior designer Claire Potter suggests that eliminating draughts is one of the best ways of reducing the heating costs in winter.

“The first place you should always start when heat-proofing you home”, she says, “is draught-proofing your home.

“Heat can be lost through any-sized hole around windows, doors, through letter boxes, between floorboards; even through keyholes.”

Depending on how drafty your home is, you could be spending an extra £100 a year on turning up that thermostat just to keep warm!

“There are lots of products on the shelf which can assist in filling the gaps,” Claire tells us, “such as self adhesive foam strips for around doors and windows, brush fittings and covers for letter boxes.

“The old fashioned curtain behind the door is a great way to cut down on draughts – close it up as soon as the sun goes in and get the most benefit of the cosiness.”

There’s no need to splash out on expensive draught-excluding products though; you can make your own draught excluders for very little!

You’ll need:

Push Down Your Bills

  • A rectangular piece of material at least forty centimetres wide and four wider than your door
  • Needle and thread or easy iron-on SewFree
  • An old pair of tights
  • Stuffing such as beanbag balls, rice, lentils etc.

Make your own draught excluder  

  1. Fold the material in half lengthways so that the pattern is on the inside and pin it together.
  2. Stitch up the length of the rectangle, as close to the edges as possible (you can use SewFree and an iron if you don’t want to sew).
  3. Turn the material inside out so you have a long cylinder that is open at both ends, with the prettier side of the fabric on the outside. Stitch together one of the ends with a row of stitches about 3cm in.
  4. Cut a leg off the tights and fill it with stuffing. Tie a knot in the end and put it into the material tube.
  5. Stitch up the end and voila! Why not add some fabric eyes and a felt tongue to make it into a snake?


Cost: From £4.00

Saving: £10-£50 per year* (depending on how draughty your home is!)

* A draught free home means you could turn down the thermostat, so an additional £75-£100 could be saved

Total costs: From £38.50

Total savings: Approximately £200 to £385 per year

Got any tips on warming up the home for us? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page!

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