Turning the heating on? Five ways to save on bills when you do

lifestyle
A Generic Photo of kids putting their feet on a radiator (iStock/PA)
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By Lisa Salmon, PA

It’s the time of year when most people are thinking of turning their heating on, or have already done it – and not without a little domestic strife.

Research has found more than a fifth of people admit that turning the heating on causes arguments in their house, and a further 23 per cent say deciding which times to have the heating on also leads to conflict.

However, more than half of householders (54 per cent) questioned by Samsung try to wait as long as they can before turning the heating on as they believe it’s the biggest drain of energy in the home throughout autumn and winter.

And it’s not just the penny-pinchers who delay the switch-on for as long as possible – over a quarter of householders, and a third of the eco-conscious Gen Z age group (18-24), insist the environmental impact of using heating also makes them leave it switched off for as long as possible.

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Whatever the reason behind their heating hesitation, both money-saving and eco-friendly householders admit they try several winter warmer tricks to delay the switch on, ranging from simple solutions like wearing extra layers around the house (65 per cent), drinking hot drinks (40 per cent), exercising indoors (13 per cent), and wearing socks to bed (40 per cent), to warming methods that use energy anyway, including using an electric blanket (14 per cent), heating up the bed with a hairdryer (8 per cent), or leaving the oven on longer than needed (8 per cent) to generate more heat.

Teg Dosanjh of Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland, which did the research for its SmartThings Energy Control service, says: “In a bid to cut down on energy bills, people are going to some interesting measures to delay switching on the heating, and the energy debate causes arguments in over a fifth of homes – but it shouldn’t. It’s not about when to turn on the heating, it’s about how you can control your energy when you do.”

Laura McGadie, group head of energy at the UK-based Energy Saving Trust (EST), which promotes energy efficiency and sustainable energy, adds: “By undertaking small changes, we can make a difference to reducing our energy bills, as well as make ourselves more comfortable and have a positive impact on the environment.”

The Trust is concerned that with more people working from home and staying home during the pandemic, it’s likely household energy consumption and bills will increase more than ever this winter. In a bid to help householders save money on heating bills and reduce their carbon footprint, it has identified five small changes you can make…

1. Turn the thermostat down slightly

Don’t worry, you don’t have to turn the heating down a lot to make a big difference to your bills – the EST says if you turn down your main thermostat by just one degree, you can save around 10 per cent on your energy bill. But it’s important not to go overboard on turning it down. McGadie stresses: “Make sure your home is warm enough during cold weather. Cold homes can damage your health.”

2. Shut the curtains

Closing your curtains at dusk, which tends to be around the same time as the heating goes on, will help stop heat escaping through the windows. The thicker the curtains, the better.

3. Check for draughts

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Feel around your windows and doors to make sure there are no draughts, and seal any holes or use draught excluders where possible. Draught-proofing windows and doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around €22 a year on energy bills, says the EST.

4. Get the timing right

As many people continue to work from home, take advantage of what would have been your commute time and set your heating to come on half an hour later. If you have a timer on your central heating, set it to come on only when required and, if possible, install a smart meter which the EST says is estimated to help reduce a household’s electricity use by 2.8 per cent and gas use by 2 per cent.

5. Layer up

As the temperature outside drops, dig out your cosy jumpers and slippers and wrap up warm to stop you needing to crank up the heating.

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