How do you keep warm at home while keeping your gas bill and your gas consumption low? I am sure that there are many of us asking ourselves this question right now. Gas boilers are the main source of heating in the UK and a very big source of carbon emissions.
“Heating is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK, making up more than one-third of the total. Decarbonising heat is the biggest energy challenge in tackling the climate emergency, particularly because it requires action in millions of individual homes. Currently, just 1m of the UK’s 27m homes have low-carbon heat”, the Guardian noted in an article published last July.
If you have the opportunity to retrofit your house to install a heat pump, I strongly recommend you take advantage of the Green Homes Grant to do it (you must redeem a voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2022).
If it’s not a possibility you have, don’t despair! You can still reduce your carbon emissions by reducing your gas consumption.
In this article, I’ll focus mainly on easy wins - low cost investments that you can make in a matter of days - because it’s cold right now and, if you’re freezing in front of your computer, your ability to focus on the longer term may be impaired - to a degree. ; )
Buy a thermometer (or two)
It’s important to keep an eye on the thermometer because it’s possible to feel cold in a 19 degree or 20 degree room if you are static. Staying seated for too long is not recommended anyway. Consider getting up every 20 minutes or 30 minutes.
Another good trick to feel comfortable while the thermometer shows 18 degrees Celsius is to exercise at home or/and go out of the house once a day at least.
In both cases, you feel warmer inside your house while the house temperature remains unchanged. You will also feel generally better and be healthier for exercising and spending time outside. Triple win.
Finally, keep track of the temperature in parts of the house you spend the most time. It will enable you to know where you need to focus your energy saving efforts.
Draught-proof your house like your life depends on it.
Houses need to be properly ventilated to provide a healthy environment free of mould and mildew. That’s why you should have extractor fans in your bathroom and kitchen as well as window vents.
However, you can block the cold air seeping through the bottom of your main door, your windows and your floor boards without compromising the ventilation of your house.
“Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save energy and money in any type of building”, according to the Energy saving trust.
You can buy a draught excluder for your main door - or make one. You can also use a very long one or several to draught-proof your sliding patio doors, by the way.
Having door snakes running along the bottom of your patio doors may not be aesthetically pleasing but if it stops cold air coming in it’s a win as far as I am concerned.
Don’t stop your draught proofing effort there.
Draught-proof your chimney;
Use a letterbox flap or brush (remember to measure your letterbox), or a snail sakk (just discovered this on Etsy);
Buy a purpose-made cover that drops a metal disc over the keyhole.
Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark.
If you have a radiator positioned under a window and the window has long curtains, keep the radiator uncovered, otherwise the heat will be trapped.
Buy lined curtains/blinds or even thermal ones.
Thermal curtains have heavyweight fabric and reflective lining that reduces heat during the warmer seasons and prevents heat loss during the colder months.
Buy radiator reflectors.
I recently bought some Radflek aluminium foils. Radflek is a product certified by the Energy Saving Trust. It reduces heat loss by 45%. The sheets are easy to install and inexpensive.
I’ve just fitted a foil behind my two living room radiators. Both of them are fitted on an exterior wall and the living room is a pretty cold room - at least 1 degree colder than the hallway on the first floor where the thermostat sits.
You can buy Radflek directly from the manufacturer here. I paid £35.98 postage included for a 5 sheet pack. The number of radiators you will be able to equip with Radflek foils will depend on their size.
Bleed your radiators regularly and have your boiler serviced.
Cool air gets trapped in the radiators and reduces their efficiency. That’s why you should bleed them regularly.
Also, dust and vacuum radiators regularly. You can buy a special long and thin brush to clean your radiators. I have one. I just need to use it. ; ) Don't forget to check your gas boiler pressure and have it serviced once a year.
Use hot water sparingly.
About 18% of the energy used by households in the UK is used to heat up water. It is far from being insignificant.
To reduce your hot water consumption, you should spend less time in the shower and use a water efficient shower head.
‘A water efficient shower head could save a four person household (e.g. a family of four or even a shared student flat) as much as £38 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £53 a year on water bills if they have a water meter’, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Also, use a bowl to wash up rather than letting the tap run – you could cut about £30 a year off your energy bills. I am planning to buy a collapsible washing up bowl as I’ve realised I do rinse dishes under the tap quite often before I put them in the dishwasher. I tried not to rinse the dirtiest dishes but they didn’t come out clean from the washing machine.
Use a smart thermostat
|Photo by Dan LeFebvre for Unsplash|
Insulate your loft room.
|Photo by Charles Deluvio for Unsplash|
Upgrade your main door and/or windows.
Check out the Energy Saving Trust website.
|A very precious source of information on everything energy related|