Switching tariff is often the best way to cut your monthly bills, but you can start slashing your gas bills today in a dozen easy steps. One of our tips is estimated to cut your bill 10 per cent straight away.
The first thing you should do is speak to your utilities supplier to find out if they offer free insulation. Marks & Spencer, EDF and British Gas currently do. If your supplier doesn't (and you don't want to switch), you may be eligible for a government home insulation grant - visit The Energy Saving Trust website for more information.
If you can't get it for free, you can install loft and roof insulation for as little as £100. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that your investment will have paid for itself in gas savings after two years. The cost of cavity wall insulation varies depending on the type of walls you have. The Trust estimates wall insulation will save you up to £135 on your bills.
Insulate Some More
There are many ways you can insulate your home, even without going to the trouble of installing cavity, loft and roof insulation. You can make your gas central heating system more efficient by wrapping insulation foil around your water pipes. You can insulate single-glazed windows with a window insulation kit, approximating the layered effect created by double-glazing.
A draft excluder makes a simple, yet extremely effective means of conserving heat. It prevents heat loss and drafts, keeping your home warmer and reducing fuel demands.
If you've got wooden floors, you can cut up to £60 a year off your gas bill using nothing but sandpaper, glue and a butter knife - find out how!
Turn Your Thermostat Down by 1 Degree
The Energy Saving trust estimates that doing this will save you over 10 per cent on your gas bill. The difference in ambient temperature will be negligible and certainly nothing a thick jumper won't easily mitigate.
Don't Throw Out Old Duvets
A hole punch and some curtain hooks can convert those tired old duvets into excellent curtain insulators. Hang them behind your curtains during Winter and take them off when Spring arrives. The extra, thicker layer of fabric traps warm air from your home, stopping it from escaping and also acts as a barrier to prevent cold air from the windows creating.
Leave Your Heating On When You Go on Holiday
If you go away during Winter, set your timer so the heating comes on for an hour or two in the evening, when rates are lower. This stops water in the heating system from freezing up. The damage caused by frozen pipes will seriously impede the efficiency of your system, meaning it will cost you more to create the same amount of the heat.
Close the Curtains
When it gets dark, close the curtains. This creates an extra layer of insulation between the radiators and the windows.
Insure Your Boiler
Boiler insurance can be a savvy investment, as it covers servicing and repairs for under-performing boilers as well as completely failed appliances. Servicing your boiler regularly keeps it performing to a good standard, meaning you use less gas to heat your home.
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Use a Clothes Horse
Draping wet clothes over your radiator to dry them prevents the warmth from heating the room. It also creates condensation, which can only be removed by opening the window, which lets the heat out. By using a clothes horse, you can dry your clothes with warm air that is circulating in the room, rather than the direct heat from the radiator.
Rearrange Your Furniture
If you have furniture blocking your radiators, move it. Even if you just pull if forward a few inches, this enables the air to circulate.
Bleed Your Radiator
When your radiator is on, the heat should be evenly distributed across the surface. If the top is colder than the bottom, this means that air is trapped inside the radiator. This is quite normal, as the constant heating and re-heating of the water creates bubbles. To get rid of the air, put a bucket or bowl under the bleed valve and then turn the bleed valve anti-clockwise with a radiator key until the water comes out.
Fix Air Leaks
To identify an air leak, remove your curtains, light a candle and hold it up to your window, approximately 1-inch from the glass. Move it around the edge of the window. If at any point the flame flickers and the smoke blows sideways, you've found a leak. Fill these in with a small bit of window putty, which costs about £7 per tub.
Take Your Own Meter Readings
If you don't do your own meter readings, your gas supplier will bill you for the average, which is based on your last year's usage. Since you've been going to all this effort to cut your use, it's essential that your bill reflects this.
Five Home Heating Myths
Decorative radiator covers increase warmth. They're pretty, but you pay through the nose for the privilege. They prevent airflow.
Leaving heating on low, all day long uses less fuel than turning the boiler on and off. It's untrue that this saves money. Unless you have the most energy efficient and well insulated house (like they do in Scandinavia), this technique doesn't work.
Radiator shelves help distribute warmth. These do not direct heat from the radiator into the centre of the room, in fact they create a downdraught.
Tucking curtains behind the radiator spreads heat. Another myth, it restricts airflow and serves only to heat the gap between the curtains and window.
Radiators shouldn't be near windows. Not true. Radiators are often placed under windows to take advantage of the cold air lingering near the window. When the cold air and warm air mix, the cold air forced down and the warm air floats up and out into the room. Placing radiators near windows also reduces the chance of them being blocked by furniture.