You may have installed smart heating technology, but as the winter winds whistle around the house and the cost of energy carries on rising what else can you do to keep the temperature up and the bills down? Here are ten top tips for simple and inexpensive measures that can help to keep your home warm.
1. If you have an open fireplace that is no longer used, install a chimney balloon. They are inflated just out of sight above the fireplace, moulding to the shape of the chimney, providing excellent insulation and preventing draughts. The cost is around £20.
2. Put aluminium foil on walls behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room, especially on external walls. Tests suggest that the payback on good quality radiator reflectors is only two to three years on external walls, a better result than for kitchen foil which deteriorates and is less effective.
3. Move your furniture away from radiators to help with the free circulation of heated air into the room and the return of cooler air along the floor. Natural convection helps to ensure heat is evenly distributed, so consider the distribution of large furniture items around the room, a sort of thermal feng shui.
4. Cover floorboards and wooden floors with carpet and rugs, or at least use a flexible filler in any gaps between the boards. According to research by the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated floors can account for 10% of the heat loss from residential properties.
5. Check if your loft hatch is insulated. Even if you have top-notch loft insulation, the hatch needs similar treatment. Special loft hatches are available, or insulating board can be added to the top of existing hatches.
6. Put up thermal roller blinds or thick curtains with a thermal lining, and keep them closed during hours of darkness. A cheaper option is to add a thermal lining to existing curtains. A thick curtain might also be a useful addition to an old or draughty external door.
7. Open the curtains when the sun is out, and make the most of one greenhouse effect that is good for our environment. Even in winter when it is cold, sunlight coming into the house will warm it up.
8. Add draught-proofing products to all those less obvious nooks where draughts might find a way in. Buy old-fashioned draught excluders to protect the base of doors, they do not all have to be sausage dogs! Think also about less obvious gaps like letterboxes, cat flaps, keyholes and extractor fans. There are products available in the DIY store to deal with all of them, and home-made alternatives generally require little specialist imagination.
9. Close up any rooms that you are not using or do not really need to use. Keep the heating on low (never off), but ensure they are ventilated from time to time.
10. If you cannot afford double or triple glazing, or your property is listed and has restrictions, it may be possible to put up insulating film using double-sided tape that has the same effect. It is inconvenient because you cannot get to the windows to open and close them, and it can start to peel and look tatty after a few months, but it is a good temporary measure at only a few pounds each winter. Alternatively, secondary glazing is a cheaper, more permanent alternative.