How to prepare your home for winter
With kids back at school and Christmas just around the corner, our bank accounts have enough to worry about without our utility bills going up. Here are some handy tips on how to prepare your home for winter and keep your energy usage (and bills!) as low as possible:
Over time, air bubbles can gather in your radiators, preventing water from filling them up when you turn the heating on. This means they can’t heat up properly, and as a result, prevents your home from being as warm as it could be. To test whether your radiators need bleeding, turn the heating on and check they have heated entirely. If the top of the radiator is much colder than the bottom, it probably needs bleeding.
It’s easy to bleed your radiators yourself; all you need is a radiator key, which you can buy online or in hardware stores for £1-3. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide from Wickes which explains how to bleed your radiators effectively.
Windows account for around 25% of heat loss in homes, and this rises even further for older properties with single glazed windows. To make sure as much heat is kept inside your home as possible, keep all curtains open during the day to allow the sun to warm the room, then close the curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping. Heavy curtains are best for this, but any covering helps.
If you have a window without curtains, such as in the bathroom, you can make your own window covering using cling film. The cling film acts as a kind of double glazing; if you seal it tightly around the edge of the window frame, it will trap the cold air in the gap and stop the room getting too cold.
If your family spends time together in one room during the evenings, make sure you’re only heating that room. So that the heat doesn’t escape to the rest of the house, which would mean turning up the heating further, buy or make a good draught excluder and close all doors to the room.
Draught excluders can be easily made from old tights or leggings, and offer a great opportunity to get crafty with the kids as they can be decorated to look like anything from snakes to sausage dogs! Take a look at this tutorial for an easy and cheap way to make one.
Clear out your freezer
Freezers are easily the most expensive household appliance to run, so it’s important to keep yours running efficiently to save on energy costs. Clear out any old food you’re not going to eat, and fill space with empty boxes to help circulate the air more efficiently.
Another reason to clear out the freezer is that winter is the best season for freezing meals. Soups and stews are cheap and simple to make, and so easy to freeze in Tupperware for a whole week of dinners. Plus, they’re so warm and hearty, they’re guaranteed to be a hit with the family during the colder months.
Swap to energy saving light bulbs
If you haven’t already, switch your main light bulbs to energy saving ones. As it gets darker, we have more lights turned on for longer, and this can really show itself on your energy bill. Whilst energy saving bulbs can be more expensive, they last a lot longer and each bulb can save up to £55 in energy bills and replacement bulbs over its lifetime.
Bear in mind that most energy saving bulbs don’t work with dimmer switches, so you should only swap the lights that have a regular on/off switch.
Swap energy provider
Now is a great time to switch energy providers, because if you pay a set monthly fee, your account is probably in credit, meaning it won’t cost you anything to switch. There are loads of great resources out there which can help you find the right energy deal, and comparison sites like uSwitch can help you compare the maximum number of providers at once.
uSwitch claim that you could save up to £618 a year by switching providers, and the process really is as easy as putting in a few details. Once you’ve chosen a new provider, they will manage the entire switchover for you. You don’t even need to contact your current provider to tell them you’re leaving; the new provider will get in touch on your behalf. However, if you still have money to pay on your current utilities account, you will be sent a final bill to pay.
We all know that winter can be an expensive time of year, but with a few simple hacks you can make big savings on your energy bills.