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Winter-proof your home and your energy bill

Typical UK street in winter snow

When it's feeling wintery, it's more important than ever to take steps to prevent heat escaping through your windows and doors. This will allow your home to stay warm and at a comfortable temperature, as well as ensuring your energy bills stay under control during the colder months.

You can prevent heat escaping by blocking out draughts and insulating walls. This significantly improves the comfort of a home and helps to make your heating controls more responsive. We've got lots of advice on our home insulation pages to help. Plus we've put together some top energy-saving tips for you below.

Top 5 tips to winter-proof your home

1. Insulate your pipes: Pipe insulation consists of a foam tube that covers the exposed pipes between your hot water cylinder and boiler, reducing the amount of heat lost and, therefore, keeping your water hotter for longer. It's usually as simple as choosing the correct size from a DIY store and then slipping it around the pipes. Pipe insulation can save around £10 a year on your energy bills. It can also prevent your condensate waste pipe from freezing, and stopping your condensing boiler working in extreme temperatures.

2. Install draught excluders: DIY draught proofing of windows, doors and random holes in the home can be a great way of stopping heat from escaping. Homeowners can buy draught proofing products in DIY stores, potentially saving up to £35 a year.

3. Fit radiator reflector panels: Fix these behind your radiators to reflect heat from radiators back into the room, instead of letting it out through an external wall. Reflector panels will be most beneficial when installed on uninsulated walls, where they could save you around £15 a year.

4. Ensure your walls are insulated: Wall insulation will provide the greatest savings and warmest homes overall. If your home was built after 1920, the chances are that its external walls are made of two layers of brick with a gap or cavity between them. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap, keeping the warmth in to save energy. The average installation cost for cavity wall insulation is between £450 and £500 and it can save up to £160 a year for a typical semi-detached home. So it could pay for itself in less than four years.

If your home doesn’t have cavity walls then it’s highly likely that it will be a solid wall property. Insulating the solid walls of a home could cut the heating costs considerably. The good news is they can be insulated – from the inside or outside – and this can save around £260 a year in a typical three-bed semi or even £455 a year in a detached home. However, the up-front costs are high and will vary significantly depending on the level of work required.

Consider reducing insulation costs by carrying out the work at the same time as other home improvements, or spreading out the work over a longer time-period and tackling your home’s insulation needs on a room-by-room basis.

5. Don't forget your loft: while most loft-spaces in UK homes will have some insulation fitted already, often it's thinner than the recommended standard to gain the maximum benefit. Topping up your roof insulation from 120mm to 270mm could save you an extra £10 - £20 a year, in addition to keeping your home feeling warmer.

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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.