How energy-efficient is your home?

Discover easy ways to reduce your utility bills this winter with expert tips from experienced renovator Michael Holmes. Includes advice on boiler maintenance and insulation.

Michael Holmes

Discover easy ways to reduce your utility bills this winter with expert tips from experienced renovator Michael Holmes.

Bleed your radiators

To ensure your radiators are working efficiently, turn the central heating system off, open the bleed valves at the top of each radiator and towel rail, and allow any trapped air to escape until water runs consistently from the valve. If you have a sealed central heating system, such as a combi boiler, check the pressure in the system is 1-2 bar afterwards and top up if necessary.

Block any draughts

A quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills is by fitting draught-excluders. Block up the flue above disused fireplaces too, using a chimney balloon (chimneyballoon.co.uk), which will deflate if a fire is lit accidentally. Avoid blocking airbricks and vents, to maintain adequate ventilation.

Prevent heat escaping

Hang heavy, lined curtains at windows to help keep the heat in your home, and close them as soon as it starts getting dark.

Stay safe

Fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm is vital to ensure boilers and heating appliances aren’t leaking any gas. Test it regularly.

Upgrade your heating controls

Make sure you have separate timed thermostatic control of each zone in your home, for example living rooms and bedrooms, as it can save on fuel by avoiding heating unused spaces during the day. Thermostatic radiator valves will allow independent control of each room. You can also add remote-controlled thermostats.

Maintain your boiler

Servicing your boiler once a year will ensure it runs efficiently. Energy provider British Gas offers a range of annual service and insurance packages – see britishgas.co.uk/homecare for details. Replacing an out-of-date boiler with a modern, more efficient model can save around £225 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Wrap up your water tank

Insulate your hot water pipes and water tank to stop heat escaping. A hot water cyclinder jacket costs around £15 and could save you around £35 on energy costs in the first year, while pipe insulation for exposed hot water pipes will cost around £10 and will save you the same amount in the first year*.

Insulate your home

You could save around £110 a year on fuel bills by insulating wall cavities, while using at least 270mm insulation in your loft could save you up to £145*.

*According to the Energy Saving Trust (energysavingtrust.org.uk)