Tips on preparing for winter

While the government has capped energy prices, our bills are still likely to be far higher this winter. As the thermometer drops, here are some ways to ensure you home, and your finances, are prepared for the colder and darker months.

1. Change the flow temperature on your boiler

This is a small change that will make a difference without you noticing a difference – you’ll wonder why you didn’t know about it before! If you have a condensing boiler, it will have a flow temperature, which is the temperature to which your boiler heats your radiators. This I likely to be much higher than necessary, so cut your gas use by between six and eight per cent by turning it down.

To change your flow temperature, go to the front of the boiler and find a dial with a radiator symbol. You will usually need to turn this to three, which will get you to the temperature needed to be as efficient as possible.

This video – from boiler manufacturer Worcester Bosch but relevant to all boilers, will help if you are unsure.

2. Do a draught walk

Stopping draughts and filling gaps in your home will make a huge difference for little money, so walk around to work out where the draughts are coming from. Insulation strips for windows and doors are cheap from DIY stores, and other solutions include thermal curtain linings that simply hook behind existing curtains to banish draughts.

If you have an open chimney that you do not use, then gadgets such as a chimney balloon, which is inflated inside your chimney opening and blocks draughts, or a chimney sheep, which is more easily removed if you occasionally use an open fire, may be worth the outlay.

3. Get a sweep

Many of us are planning to burn wood this year to heat our homes but beware the danger of chimney fires if you haven’t had your chimney swept this year. Debris and bird nests can create a fire risk, and you may find a home insurance claim is not valid if you can’t prove you’ve had a chimney sweep round before winter comes.

4. Take stock of your heating controls

‘Smart’ thermostats such as Hive, and Nest can help you to stay on top of your heating bills. In conjunction with thermostatic radiator valves, they can allow you to set temperatures for different times of day, only heat certain areas of the house, and ensure that the heating goes off automatically when everyone is out for the day.

If you already have a smart thermostat, make sure you’re fully aware of its capabilities, and save more by scheduling your heat for when you really need it.

You may wish to install a new smart thermostat if your system is not currently able to handle a heating schedule. The Hive mini thermostat with hub and receiver is currently available for £119, but you will need to pay £100 for installation on top of that. Nest is available for £18 but will also need installing.

5. Bleed your radiators

After a few months without use, you’ll find your radiators aren’t in the most efficient shape. It is likely that there will be air inside them, meaning they are cold at the top and hot at the bottom.

This reduces efficiency, but they can be bled to improve this. This guide from energy provider Eon could help 

17th October 2022