Brr, it’s cold out there this morning! I’ve already loaded up the fireplace with coal and eaten a bowl of porridge to warm myself up. And we’re not even in winter yet! Ooh, it’s making me shiver just thinking about the chilly days to come. If you’re looking for ways to save money around your house, and keep yourself toasty warm over the coming months, a sensible idea is to take a look at your home’s energy use. Your central heating system (whether it’s oil, gas or electric) consumes a lot of energy to heat your home, but by following a few of these energy-saving tips, you can lower your bills. And with a bitterly cold winter on its way, now’s a great time to prepare your home in advance and reduce your usual heating costs so you don’t get a surprisingly high bill in the Spring.Seal leaks around doors & windows
Of course, if your home is double-glazed you should already be benefiting from a cosy seal around your windows. But if not, it’s essential to tackle this with some DIY solutions. The gaps around your doors and windows might look small, but they’re huge energy wasters. Adding weatherstripping (like a padded foam or fluffy strip that you can stick around all the edges) to your doors and windows is essential in keeping the cold out and the heat in. Tackle other possible heat-leaks too by spray an expanding-foam sealant around holes in walls created by plumbing work, and stick fitted insulation pads behind socket and light switch plates to save around 10 percent or more on your heating bills. You can also look for gaps along your skirting boards or around basement and attic hatches and plug these up too.Use a programmable thermostat
You can save up to 10 percent every year on heating and cooling costs simply by setting your thermostat temperature back between seven and 10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day. A programmable thermostat can do this automatically so you don’t even have to think about it. Consider the time you wake up, leave the house, come home, and go to bed. Set the ideal temperature for your home during the times that you’re actually at home and the thermostat will take care of the rest.
Close the damper in your chimney
While you may love the cosy ambience of a wood-burning or coal fire, it’s actually a bit of an energy waster. When your fire is lit, it pulls up around 24,000 cubic feet of already-heated air through the chimney every hour and immediately replaces it with cold air. When you want to use your fireplace, turn down your thermostat so your central heating isn’t working too hard to heat your house, as this warm air will soon disappear. Additionally, when your woodburning stove isn’t in use, remember to close the damper. This can prevent around 8 percent of your warm air from escaping.Use the right type of landscaping
While trees and bushes make your garden look beautiful, they can also help control your home’s energy costs. And I’m not just talking about the winter – this tip works in the summer too! Planting large, leafy trees on the east side of your house can block the morning rays, keeping it cool in the summer. Having the same trees on the southwest and west side of your house will continue the job during the afternoon. Thoughtful landscaping like this will help keep your house cooler in the summer. And when the leaves drop off in the autumn, the sunlight can get through the branches to help warm your house in the winter.Lower your water heater temperature
Water heaters leave the factory set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, yet most homeowners can lower that temperature to 120 degrees and never notice a difference. In fact, it might help with water that gets scalding hot – no more dipping your toes in the bath to see if it’s too hot! Bumping down the temperature on your water heater can save you between 6 and 10 percent on your utility bills. Since water heating accounts for around 18 percent of your utility bill, this saving will definitely add up over time.
I hope that these tips will help you to take control your home’s energy use and lower the amount you use up this winter. By using just a couple of these tips you could start seeing savings on your electricity and gas bills right away, and won’t get such a shock when the winter bill arrives through the post! Let me know if you have any other ideas for ways to stay warm in the winter by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.