Try our Winter Workout tips to save gas (and stay cosy) in your home
There’s never been a better time to cut back on our gas: it pollutes the home, warms the planet, and costs more this winter than any year on record.
The good news is that through a few simple changes, most homes can save on gas and bills, and still stay cosy.
Nearly 250,000 customers asked to join our new Winter Workout challenge, signing up to hear tips on how to use less gas in their homes.
A month in, they're seeing real results: two thirds of Workout customers are using less gas, those that have cut back have made a saving 12% on their gas bill on average. Collectively they've saved 5.8 million kilograms of CO2 so far, and are on track to save over £1.2 million over the 12 weeks.
We wanted to make some of these tips available for all, in case anyone not part of the Winter Workout is interested in ways to save. So, here they are...
Tip #1: Get your flow on
Getting your heating and hot water flowing at the right temperature can make gas go much further
While there’s plenty of arguments over thermostats, few people ever change the settings on their boiler itself.
The key one here is the flow temperature. This is the temperature the water leaves the boiler at to heat your home or provide hot water.
At their default setting, these temperatures are usually too high. This doesn’t make your home warmer, but it can add massively to your bills and emissions. It’s like putting your foot flat to the floor when driving – it’s hugely wasteful but doesn’t really affect your journey time.
If you have a combi boiler, we recommend setting your flow temperature to 50c for heating and 55c for hot water – it’ll take a little longer to heat up, but the gas and CO2 savings make it more than worthwhile!
If you have a boiler and a hot water cylinder, we recommend setting the flow temperature on your boiler to a few degrees over 60c for heating and hot water, and setting your hot water cylinder to 60c also (you’ll usually find the control for your cylinder ⅓ of the way up the tank.) Here's some more advice for efficient hot water cylinder heating and info on boiler temperatures.
Good to know: Hot water should be stored at a high enough temperature to stop bacteria like legionella from multiplying. Risk of illness is low, especially in residential settings, and there are only a few hundred cases in total in the UK each year, with elderly people most at risk, but it's worth clicking below to read a bit more 👇
Heating systems all work a bit differently depending on your home, pipes, usage etc. We think the above should work for many, but do read around to make up your own mind. The resources we've linked above should get you started.
Tip #2: Blowing in the wind
A continuous draft can quickly undo all the good work of your heating.
While ventilation is important for air quality and health, it’s also the first place heat escapes. If you can feel a draft, grab a draft excluder and plug the gap – and remember to close any open windows before the sun goes down.
Here're a few draft-blocking starter ideas
- Get a draft excluder for any doors that lead to the outside. These are available for around £7 online or you could even make one out of an old pair of tights and some rice!
- You could also think about a letter box draft excluder.
- Silicone sealant (~£5) can be used to seal any drafty gaps around the edges of windows and doors.
- Keep doors between rooms closed when not in use to keep the heat in and the cold out
Tip #3: Hot water, or HOT water
Does hot water help kill nasties on your dirty dishes?
Most of us waste gas heating the hot water for our taps to 60c, only to cool it down again by mixing it with cold water when we want to use it for showers or baths. But how hot do we need the water to clean our dishes?
At 60c, hot water can cause serious scalding in under 5 seconds.
However, for water to be hot enough to kill the bacteria or other nasties on your plates, it would need to be over 75c, and the dishes would need to soak for at least 30 seconds.
So, when washing dishes by hand, you only need water hot enough to loosen grease and oils, which is generally around 30-40c. Your dish soap will do the job of lifting bacteria from the surface of your dishes so they are swept away with the water.
Disinfect your sink regularly so it doesn’t become a home for bacteria.
Tip #4: Timing is everything
Turning your heating off when it’s not needed is a quick way to save.
Making sure your boiler isn’t running 24 hours a day is a great way to cut down your bill. Most boilers or thermostats will let you set a schedule, so you can turn the heating off or set it lower while you’re tucked up in bed. The trick is to set your heat to come on 30 minutes before it’s needed, and shut off 30 minutes early as well – so the room can heat up and you make the most of residual heat. See what moneysavingexpert has to say on this topic.
Tip #5: Night time routine
Doing a quick lap of your home before sunset can help you cut heating costs
You’ll keep more heat in your home if you pull your curtains before it gets dark (up to 15% reduction in heat loss!). If you’re heading off to work and expect to be home after dark, simply pulling your curtains before you leave will help keep residual heat longer.
Make sure your curtains don’t cover your radiators – this will just mean the heat escapes through the window rather than warming your room.
Tip #6: Don’t touch that dial (OK, maybe a little tweak)
Tweaking your thermostat – using it as an on/off switch or boost for example – can mean more gas is wasted.
Most people like their home warmed to a certain temperature – if you’ve got a thermostat or smart thermometer, this is the setting most people reach for when adjusting their heating.
Somewhere between 18-21c is ideal, and lower temps can save you gas. It’s better to set your temperature now – because when it’s really cold you’ll be tempted to crank it up more. It’s handy to know setting a higher temperature won’t warm your house more quickly.
And don’t use it like an on-off switch. Many of us do – but you’ll be more comfy, more efficiently, if you set it and leave it on for while you need it.
Good to know: If anyone in your home is 65 or over, or has a health condition like heart or lung disease, you should warm your home to at least 18c.
Tip #7: Consider which parts of your home need to be warm
This isn't about having a cold home - but if you're snuggling down in front of a film, or the night, and won't be moving, there's no point having other rooms heated to 21 degrees. And if you're going to be in one spot for a long time, you might go further. We hear from a lot of people who snuggle up in a onesie or a blanket, and knock their thermostat down a couple of degrees. It's not for everyone but it could really cut your energy consumption
If there’s rooms in your home that aren’t used much, you may want to turn off any radiators in them to make sure you don’t waste gas heating them.
You may want to consider thermostatic valves for radiators in rooms other than the one with your main thermostat. They will automatically manage the amount of hot water used based on the temperature in the room, so can help keep a consistent temperature right through your home while cutting down any overheating.
Tip: Check your radiators are set up for thermostatic valves before you buy them.
Tip #8: Keep your radiators happy
There are some quick ways to help your radiator do its job better.
From moving furniture a couple of inches to using foil to avoid escaped heat, keeping your radiator in tip top condition can vastly improve its efficiency, keeping you warmer for less.
A few of our starter tips for a happy radiator
- Make sure your radiators aren’t too close to furniture, as they'll absorb all the heat
- Touch your radiators (after turning down your flow temperature so they're not too hot!), particularly along the top. If you can feel cooler spots, you should bleed them. Here's how.
- Don’t dry clothes directly on the radiator, use a radiator airer or separate clothes dryer
- Use reflective foil behind your radiator so the wall doesn’t absorb all the heat
- Give your radiators a good clean! If there's loads of dust on them it will act as a heat absorber and reduce their effectiveness
- Use a radiator fan to distribute the warmth into the room quicker
- Smart radiators: if you want to spend a bit more, get smart radiator valves so you can control your heating room by room.
Tip #9: Stay warmer longer with a little insulation
Could your home benefit from a little extra insulation this winter?
If you find your home cools down quickly once the heating is off, you may need some more insulation. Common areas for heat loss are loft hatches and drafty floors, and you can also give your water tank and hot water pipes an extra layer to keep their heat in.
Insulation starter tips
The main places to insulate are the ones with the biggest gaps – so open windows, under doors, and gaps under and around windows
- Think about insulating your loft hatch to stop warm air being drawn up and out. Cut insulation to fit the hatch but make sure the edges are well draft-proofed.
- Homebase have a handy article on loft insulation here.
- If you’re doing building works, it’s worth laying a layer of under-floor insulation to avoid heat escaping through the floor.
Tip #10: Heating water for cooking?
If you’ve got a gas hob, heat your water with electricity
If you need to heat water for cooking or cleaning, it’s quicker and uses less gas to get it boiling with a kettle or microwave first – you can always transfer it to the hob once it’s boiling.
Tip #11: Block your chimney if you’re not using it
With 11 million chimneys around the country, there’s a lot of heat escaping
Chimneys are often overlooked or ignored, but an unblocked chimney is like leaving a window open 24 hours a day. If you have one you’re not using, make sure you block it up – Octopus Energy for Business customers Chimney Sheep make ingenious and environmentally friendly chimney blockers from felted sheep wool.
Tip #12: Share your bright ideas
If you’ve got a great tip that’s worked really well for you, let us know so we can share the love.
Found something that’s worked really well in your home? Let us know so we can share the love. If we use your tip as part of our Winter Workout, we’ll credit your Octopus account with a bonus £50.
Share your tips here – over 20,000 brilliant customers have shared their handy tips already!
Want even more tips?
We've found a couple of extra lists of energy saving tips - some are better than others so we will leave it to you to decide which ones you choose:
This is Money - 20 useful energy saving tips that could reduce bills
Money Saving Expert - Energy Saving tips n tricks
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