We all know that gas prices are on the increase, but did you know that domestic heating in the UK accounts for more than double the CO2 emissions that our power stations do?
We’re also more than aware of the Scottish Government’s push towards Net Zero, including plans to ban new gas boilers for new build homes and replace others with electrical alternatives – although those alternatives are currently expensive and the plans to help the transition through funding right now remain unclear.
In the meantime, it’s going to be more important than ever to try and avoid turning that thermostat up a degree or two so you can steer clear of extra charges with energy price increases – Using less energy from your gas boiler also helps the environment until greener and more affordable alternatives are available.
So, with all that in mind, and with home and hybrid working still very much part of our lives, here are some tips to keep warm and help save some energy while you’re at home this Autumn and Winter.
It all starts with your heating system
The first port of call should be a boiler service to make sure that your boiler’s working as efficiently and as safely as possible. You can read our blog on how to get a boiler service for free here.
The next place to look is at the heating settings you’ve got set up just now. Check the time the heating comes on and turns off to make sure that suits you on a daily basis, and make sure you don’t set the thermostat higher than it needs to be. That may mean you need to change your controls to give you more flexibility each day or even set the controls by room in your house to focus the heat better.
The investment in Smart Controls is well worth it when you look at how long it takes to pay back the initial investment and they provide you with the opportunity to control your heating from wherever you are too – This is especially helpful so that if you get delayed somewhere, you’re not heating an empty house. Remember heat rises too, so if you’ve got an upstairs space, it may be an idea to spend more time up there.
Stop those pesky draughts
Draughts can come from all kinds of sources, so firstly, figure out where all the opportunities are. They could come from between wooden floorboards, gaps between and around external doors, letterboxes, keyholes, open chimneys and even extractor fans that aren’t covered outside. It may sound a lot, but this tip to keep warm is worth your time. Draughts are a quick fix and easily resolvable with some basic insulation materials without a great deal of investment. You can also check if you are eligible for additional funding for any larger-scale measures through the Energy Savings Trust, or even your energy suppliers ECO team.
Use your curtains
A pretty basic one, but often easily overlook. Ideally used lined curtains if you can for extra insulation – there’s nothing wrong with pulling them over and getting cosy inside which the rain lashes against the window outside!
Generate some extra heat from your radiators
For radiators situated on external walls, you can easily add heat reflector panels or foil down the back of them to stop it heating a wall, more than the room! Again, cheap, easy but certainly effective. Also, if you have furniture that’s in front of a radiator, it may be worth a bit of room reconfiguration to get more heat out into the room rather than being stuck behind a sofa.
Wear more clothes
It may sound like something an elderly relative may say, but there’s certainly sense in it! If you can keep your core warm by adding a couple of think layers underneath a thicker jumper then your body won’t divert blood to keep your main body warm. Meaning your head, hands and feet will stay warmer too – but if they’re cold also, then put an extra pair of socks or slippers on, or fingerless gloves and even a cosy hat. It may feel odd to do in your house, but it’ll work, and it’ll keep your energy bills down too. You can also add a blanket or two as well – who doesn’t like doing that!?
Perhaps a little harder to do if you’re working from home and sat mostly at a computer, but try to get up and move as often as possible. Not only is it good to have a break from the screen for a few minutes, it’ll get the blood pumping a bit quicker and that’ll warm you up. Don’t exert yourself too much though and start sweating as that will end up having the opposite effect.
Borrow heat from elsewhere
To be clear, we don’t mean try to connect your gas supply up to a neighbours meter! What we do mean though is that if it’s sunny, then sit in an area where you can feel it coming through the window or once you’ve finished using the oven, leave the door open so it can release heat around your kitchen and maybe further. Hot water bottles or microwaveable heat pads mean you can also take heat sources with you, and they’ll last for a while too.
Your diet’s important too
A lovely hot cup of tea, coffee or even soup certainly helps to warm you up, although they can actually cause your body to cool too – so drink them in moderation. Conversely, drink cool water triggers your body into warming the liquid so can actually warm you, which is similar to the process it follows when consuming harder to digest foods (like those high in fat and protein), but do so in a way that has a good balance to your diet – and don’t forget to keep moving too to help burn off any unwanted additional calories!
Finally… is it worth a new boiler just now?
We fully appreciate that gas isn’t the long-term answer, but, if you have an old, inefficient boiler perhaps upgrading to a condensing A-rated energy-efficient model may help in the interim. Not only will you use less gas and what you spend on it, but you’ll also be emitting less carbon dioxide into the environment. The typical life of a boiler is 12-15 years, so it won’t be there forever, but can help in the meantime – as well as avoiding potentially expensive breakdowns, which always occur when you least want them to.