However we once lived in a house with single pane windows and night storage heaters. I have never been so cold! I really learnt there to appreciate the central heating and use it sparingly, and especially with all the news of energy prices going up this winter I thought this was a good time to share and discuss energy and heat saving measures!
Most of them are pretty common sense but they are all definitely worth checking you have before we really get into winter:
- Were you born in a barn? My parents always used to tell me to close doors (and ask that infamous question), but it helps to keep the heat in when you are spending all evening in say the living room closing the doors will help to keep it snug. Especially doors into rooms which have external doors, for example we always keep the door to the hallway closed as the front door isn't very energy efficient so it can get a bit draughty in there. Closing the door keeps that draught confined to the hall, so we don't have to compensate by heating the flat more.
- Obviously this also applies to the actual external doors, try to avoid opening and closing doors and windows a lot when you have the heating on. If you have to go in and out a lot (when we were smokers we were in and out every hour) close the door straight away. Jazzie cat is a bugger for dithering over whether she wants to be inside or out, but in winter the door gets opened for her for about 2 seconds and if she doesn't choose the choice is made for her! We don't leave windows open for the cats in winter either, they use the litter tray.
- Think of your property like a tank and heat like the water inside, where are the leaks? Insulate every last place you can. If you are a tenant you may not have control over loft and wall insulation, or be able to get better windows or doors (If you own the place definitely something to consider - Landlords listen up too!) but you can still keep as much heat in as possible. Draught excluders on doors, especially external doors are great. Also lined thermal curtains on all windows, and external doors if possible, will help. You can also get foam insulating tape that you can run around the inside of door frames which helps to keep any draughts out (my mum used this with good results).
- Ventilation - some air circulation is needed for ventilation, and depending on if you have a gas fire and the age of the building may be necessary for safety reasons like carbon monoxide etc. Don't block off any vents or permanently seal them unless you have consulted an expert on whether they're still necessary. You will also need to let some fresh air in to prevent damp if you don't have any ventilation vents or bricks, I like to throw the windows open when I can in the daytime if the temperature is decent and let some air circulate...use a dehumidifier to draw out any extra moisture in the air to avoid damp in winter if you can't bear opening the windows!
- Good old solutions like hot water bottles (pop one in the bed 15-20 minutes before you get in), nice PJs and slippers or blankets work just as well to keep you warm especially in the evening when on the sofa or going to bed. It is natural to be cold in winter (it's cold outside after all) so we don't expect to be sat around in shorts, I regularly put a jumper on before considering putting the heating on. After living in our freezing house blankets on the sofa (and occasionally the duvet) has become a habit for us, now more about comfort than warmth as it's just nice to snuggle up sometimes.
- Heat reflecting foils behind radiators reflect heat back out into the room rather than letting it get absorbed by the walls. Also don't block radiators off with furniture or washing.
- I began to treat heat as a precious resource when living in our cold cold house, so anything that gave off heat became valuable to us! When cooking I would leave the oven open afterwards and let the heat out into the kitchen/living area, we would also use space heaters when we just got too cold - but they cost a fortune on the electricity.
- Speaking of electricity - try to avoid energy wastage on electricals by leaving things on standby (you are paying for that little red standby light to be lit!) or leaving things on. Make sure to switch everything off when not in use, properly off at the switch not on standby. Things like electric clock displays are also a waste, do you need your microwave and oven to both tell you the time? No, unplug the microwave when not in use.
- Monitor your timer and thermostat - don't put the heat on high and long from the start, start at your most conservative estimate of what you need and go from there. We start off the heating with just 30 minutes in the morning before we wake up to make it bearable, then it comes on again at 6pm and off at 8pm - the last few weeks we have been turning it off early if anything but now it has started creeping up. Start low and leave the thermostat low for as long as you can, just enough to keep the place warm (not roasting) and just for a short time while you are home. Try to only extend the times for short bursts rather than just whack the heating on for all evening straight away, it doesn't need to be on at all times while you are home, we tend to leave the timer at 6pm-8pm for as long as we can but during really cold spells it can go up to 5pm-9pm, however we reduce it again as soon as the temperature picks up a bit.
- I find having the heating on low for longer is more efficient for our property than having it on for short bursts of higher temperatures, hence why we always start with the heating being on for at least 2 hours in the evening but on a low temperature. Try to keep the place and even warm temperature, rather than having it roasting hot for a few hours then freezing for the rest of the day...think about how much energy it takes to heat the place up rather than just maintain a reasonably steady temperature. This takes a bit of trial and error, we got into our timed routine last winter after a month or so of faffing (do we want it on at 5 or 6pm? What time should it go off, how early can we do it before being cold going to bed?).
If you are really struggling to keep warm shop around energy supplier and see if you can get a cheaper deal or contact your current supplier and see if there is anything they can do. We moved out of our cold house in the end (to a bungalow with central heating a double glazing, it was like a luxury!) so speak to your landlord if the place is unbearably hard to heat, or shop around for somewhere new if it is impossible to make improvements.
Keep warm! xx