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7 top tips to help heat your home this winter

•  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 a 2016 Energy Saving Trust survey tells quite a different tale with home-owners struggling to keep their home as warm as they'd like.

For many people, the default response is to reluctantly get additional jumpers and blankets out. But there are straightforward energy-efficiency measures that can help keep your home warm longer term.

65% of people report pulling on a jumper to stay warm indoors, while 42% wrap up in a blanket – but  only 15% draught-proof their homes, and even fewer ensure their pipework is insulated. That's not all, less than 30%  of people 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%) than home owners (29%) are finding home heating a struggle, and half of people on means tested benefits said they struggle to keep their home warm.

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. There may be grants available to make home improvements. If you live in an energy-inefficient property, from early 2019, your landlord will be liable to make changes to bring it up to at least an Energy Performance Certificate 'E' rating.

Previously, landlords could avoid making improvements if they were unable to source government or other grant finance for energy-efficiency home improvements but changes in regulations mean they're liable to pay up to £3,500 of their own money. 

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Watch our video for some energy efficiency tips.

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% 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 £10 to £30 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 3-bed semi-detached house, materials will cost around £20, and you will save around £3 - £7 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 your lifestyle. 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 warm exactly when and where you want in your home. You could also save around £75 to £115 a year if you currently don’t have any of these heating controls.

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 from top-up insulation.

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

Saving: Topping up your hot water cylinder insulation from 25mm to a 80mm jacket could save around £20 a year.

6. Top-up your loft insulation

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

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 £12 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 £145 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 £245 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical semi-detached house).

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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.