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Shivering in winter: 7 top tips to make your home warmer

•  Four out of ten of us are avoiding switching on the heating during colder spells due to fears about energy bills
•  A third are reporting they can't make their home as warm as they'd like
•  Winter woollies are filling the comfort gaps where heating systems aren't delivering the goods

Warming options being ignored

Cosy blanket imageIt's the time of year when the joys of cold weather are celebrated – but on the flip side, new Energy Saving Trust research is telling quite a different tale.

At the same time though, taking steps that can considerably improve home comforts are being ignored in favour of reluctantly getting the jumpers and blankets out.

65 per cent pull on a jumper inside, while 42 per cent wrap up in a blanket – but a measly 15 per cent draught-proof their homes, and even fewer make sure their pipework is insulated. That's not all, less than 30 per cent bleed their radiators resulting in potential cold spots throughout homes.

Making a difference on a budget

Wearing a woolly jumper or blanket in front of the TV is sensible in many ways, but our homes should be able to keep us from getting cold. There are a number of energy efficiency upgrades that can really make a difference to keep us warm, as well as make savings on heating bills.

So before the next really cold snap bites, it's worth taking a look at what options are available to help make things more manageable and comfortable.

Winter is tougher for renters

The survey also found that far more renters (48 per cent) than home owners (29 per cent) are finding home heating a struggle, and half of people on means tested benefits said they struggle to keep their home warm.

Homeowners or renters in receipt of benefits may get some help towards the cost of fitting insulation or a new boiler, so it’s worth checking by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS) on 0300 123 1234.

If you are a private tenant, living in a cold home, you should talk to your landlord about making improvements to insulation and heating systems. Under new regulations introduced this year, tenants who are receiving certain benefits can access a grant to pay for some energy improvements and landlords have to agree to the installation – ESAS will be able to tell you if you are eligible.


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7 key improvements to make a home warmer

We recommend getting at least three quotes from different reputable installers before carrying out any improvements.

1. Draught proof your home

Draught proofing windows imageEnergy Saving Trust research has found that 46 per cent of people still need to draught-proof their windows and doors.

Cost: A good DIY draught-proofing job could costs between £85 and £275 for materials and professional installation for your whole house.

Saving: Draught-proofing windows and doors can make your home a more comfortable place to live and could save you £25 to £35 a year on heating bills.

2. Insulate your pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes is a quick and easy way to save energy. As well as reducing heat loss from your system, pipe lagging will also prevent pipes from getting too cold in winter, and therefore prevents pipes bursting.

Pipe insulation is an easy DIY install – you can buy foam insulation tubes online or from a DIY store and slip them over your pipes. In a typical house, materials will cost around £20, and you will save around £10 a year on your energy bills, as well as reducing the possibility of expensive repair bills from burst pipes.

3. Upgrade heating controls

Smart thermostat imageRoom thermostats allow households to set and maintain the temperature at home. A programmer sets the heating to turn on and off at certain times of the day to suit household lifestyles. Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) let householders control the temperature of each radiator.

Cost: Costs can vary significantly due to the variety of heating systems types and sizes and controls available. We recommended comparing quotes from professional installers.

Saving: Installing and using a full set of heating controls means that you can be in control and be warm exactly when you want to be in the rooms you are in and could save around £75 to £155 a year if you currently don’t have any.

4. Get a new boiler

Modern boilers are more efficient than older models. If your boiler is more than 10 years old it will be far less efficient than a newer model, consider replacing it with a more efficient condensing boiler.

Costs and savings vary depending on your current boiler’s efficiency, fuel type and your house type but fuel bill savings can be significant.

5. Top-up your hot water cylinder insulation

Nearly all UK hot water cylinders have some insulation, however those with a hot water tank jacket under 25mm thick could benefit with top up insulation.

Cost: A hot water cylinder jacket costs around £16.

Saving: Topping up your hot water cylinder insulation from 25mm to 80mm jacket could save around £25 to £35 a year.

6. Top-up your loft insulation

The majority of homes have some loft insulation but many don’t have the recommended 270mm depth.

Cost: Topping up your loft insulation from 120mm to 270mm could cost around £240.

Saving: Topping up your loft insulation from 120mm to 270mm will help stop warmth escaping through the roof and could save around £15 a year.

7. Insulate your walls

Although wall insulation is a bigger investment, and costs vary, it can keep your home warm and cosy and result in a large saving.

Most homes built after 1919 have cavity walls. If your home's cavity walls are uninsulated, adding cavity wall insulation could save up to £155 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical semi-detached house).

Most homes built before 1919 have solid walls. Solid wall insulation can save around £260 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical semi-detached house).

What tips have you got to stay warm during the cold winter nights? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or tweet @EnergySvgTrust

For more energy saving tips, sign-up to receive our monthly email. Discover more blogs about energy and water efficiency at home, or read our home improvements guide for further information.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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Excellent tips for saving energy and costs (as a pensioner both are important). However, it is common knowledge that there are a significant number of analog electricity meters which run backwards in properties where solar panels are installed, therefore giving false consumption readings. It seems the energy companies are reluctant to do anything about it.

In consequence , every kilowatt of electricity that's not paid for by the occupants is in fact paid for by each one of us in higher than necessary prices!

What's going on?.......J

What about all this bad press about retro-fit cavity wall insulation and saying that millions of homes may soon suffer problems because of the cavity being filled and was never a good idea in the first place?

Put on a sweater - or two - wool for preference

Upgrade you duvet to higher insulation value

Consider installing permanent ventilate with heat recovery - as long as you seal the walls and windows and doors very well

A hot water bottle is a very efficient way to keep yourself warm, and not just at bedtime.

Pound shops stock of a range of different LED light bulbs (5watt LED = 60watt standard bulb) these are more economical than normal energy savers

I have seen a small scale wind turbine in the shape of a tree that can be installed in a garden. I do not remember where I seen the article. Would you have any idea where I could get information on it?
Thank you for your help in this matter.

Hello Catherine,

You may be referring to NewWind with its Aeroleaf technology. We regularly blog about innovative new products and technology that catch our eye. We recently blogged about installing small wind turbines on lamp posts, connecting directly to the grid.

In 2009, the Energy Saving Trust published a report following a field trial on domestic small-scale wind turbines, which you may find interesting. 

I hope this is helpful.


EST Team

Hi I am just about to insulate the roof on our house we have exposed the beams and had the roof turned what is the best way to insulate please .Do we cut kingspan and put between beams ensuring a 25m gap and insulated plaster board on top have tried looking for a chart to help with thermal saving have heard about the new foil any advise would be most welcome thank you can forward picture if that helps .