Rising heating bills seem to be a fact of life these days, particularly during the colder months. Not surprisingly, any advice on what you can do to reduce fuel bills is warmly welcome. There’s certainly no shortage of well meaning opinions and recommendations on the topic, but can we believe everything we read? Of course we can’t.
It’s time to sort the fact from the fiction when it comes to your heating bills, so that you don’t end up inadvertently paying more, rather than less, than you had bargained for.
Let’s start with these four well known myths that are widely circulated as good advice, but are in fact the opposite.
Fiction 1: Turn the heating up when it’s cold outside
This is a very common misconception. People assume that on particularly cold days, you should turn up the heat more than usual. However, if your central heating system is regulated by way of a thermostat, this is totally pointless.
The purpose of a thermostat is that it measures the indoor temperature and maintains it at the desired level set by you. It doesn’t matter what the external temperature variation is, if you’ve set your room temperature to be at, say 19C, that’s what the thermostat will do.
Fiction 2: Turn the heating up to heat the room quicker
What do you do when you get home to a cold house? Many sources suggest that you should turn the heating on max for fastest results, but this is another untruth. In fact, your heating system will work at the same pace regardless of the temperature setting, so there’s absolutely no point in setting it to high. All that’s likely to happen is that you forget about the setting and end up overheating the house, wasting money.
Fiction 3: If you have a storage heater, is must be on all day
Storage heaters are a mystery to many home owners and many people simply have no idea how to use these heating devices efficiently. The most common assumption is that your night storage heaters should be switched on all day to do the job. Actually, this is the complete opposite of what you should be doing. The clue is in the name.
Storage heaters are designed to be heated up overnight (during cheap, non-peak electricity hours) so that they will put out the desired heat when it’s needed during the day. If you keep your storage heater on at daytime, you are running it when electricity is at peak prices!
Fiction 4: It’s best to leave your heating on all day
Another common misunderstanding is the belief that it is more energy efficient to leave your heating on all day. This is rooted in the assumption that more energy is used to start up the boiler and heat a cold house up to the required temperature, rather than maintaining an even temperature that simply needs ‘topping up’ now and again.
Unfortunately, if you leave your heating on 24/7 you will end up using more fuel, simply because some heat loss will always occur as a result of the temperature differential between the inside and outside. You’re better off only using your heating when you need it.
Having debunked some common myths about how to reduce our heating bills, let’s turn to the good news. Here are 4 facts that you should pay attention to if you’re hoping to cut your fuel bills.
Fact 1: Increase your home insulation
The best way to cut your heating bills is to insulate your home and make it energy efficient. One of the best ways to do this is to fill holes in exterior walls, fit draught proofing around doors and windows, and investigate cavity wall insulation and roof insulation for your home.
Fact 2: Put cling film over windows
A ridiculously simple but very effective practice, putting cling film over your windows to keep the draught out actually works. The sheet of film helps to keep the heat in as the plastic traps a thin layer of air which stops the heat from escaping. Genius, and costs pennies.
Fact 3: Consider a home oil tank
To make savings on heating bills, many home owner are turning to oil fired heating. Better known for industrial or farming use, on-site oil tanks are also becoming more popular for residential properties, particularly in areas where gas is not available. Not only can you buy oil at a time and price to suit you, you can even put additives into the tank to make your boiler more efficient.
Fact 4: Maximise natural sources of heat
One way to help with heating costs during the winter time is to take full advantage of any natural heat coming into the house. The sun shines all year round, so open your curtains wide to let the sunshine in. When it gets dark, close the curtains to reduce draughts.