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Top tips for keeping cosy this winter

It's getting chilly out there, and as the weather worsens it's becoming increasingly hard not to stick the heating on. Although winter fuel costs can be high, ensuring that equipment such as boilers and radiators are in good working order, and keeping an eye on your tariff really can help keep costs down. There are also a variety of heating benefits available which can help lower overall heating costs, and even if you don't qualify, there are still ways to save money throughout the colder months. We've compiled the best tips from gransnetters to help you cut down on heating costs this winter.

Switching tariffs 

fireplace

Switching to another tariff could potentially help you save money and lower the overall cost of heating your home through the winter months.  If you are considering switching, there is a wealth of guides and information online that would allow you to compare your current usage and rates to those of other energy providers. There are also different savings and tariffs available depending on whether you have gas or electric heating or switch between the two.

Oil heating can be significantly more expensive then electric, so it's important to compare your energy usage with the rates in the tariff to be sure that your costs don't exceed reasonable expectation. 

  • "I use oil which seems to get more expensive every year. I get by on 1,000 litres a year by having a heat lamp type bulb in my lamp and a quilt to snuggle up under on the sofa and dressing for the weather...My thermostats are set at about 15." tiggypiro
  • "Just had the oil tank topped up which cost £800 (but I use oil for heating, hot water and cooking)." sunseeker

If you are concerned that your gas heating (whether it's central or not) may be costing more than it should, or more than you can afford, then review your rates and tariff to see whether a switch might benefit you, and consider applying some of the available heating schemes.

For gas heating, or a combination of gas and electric, fixed price tariffs are available lasting from 12 months to two years.

Some gas heating providers also offer free boilers and insulation as part of energy efficiency upgrades, and it can be worth researching whether you may qualify if your current boiler is old or outdated.

  • "I don't have any central heating. I live in a large Victorian house it would be too expensive for me to either have it put in or keep the place remotely warm I have a gas fire in each main room and that's it." BlueBelle 

For those with electric heating, there are several tariff options: an Economy 7, an Economy 10 and a fixed price tariff. An Economy 7 tariff allows you pay a different price for electricity at different times of day, while an Economy 10 tariff works in a similar way and discounts the rate of energy used during the off peak hours throughout the day. Each of the economy tariffs requires a different meter set up so be sure to check with your energy provider about what (if any) additional costs there may be for meter installation. A fixed price tariff might " also be an option for those with gas or electric, as it freezes the cost of your energy at a certain amount for a specific period of time.

  • "So long as we washed, dishwashed and tumbledried overnight, it was marginally cheaper on Economy 7." kittylester 
  • "I've just phoned a comparison site and moved to a fixed tariff for 18 months on a slightly lower rate." Tegan 

Heating benefits

There are several different heating benefits and schemes that can help you reduce your energy costs. Some, like the Winter Fuel Allowance are only available to those of a specific demographic, but others, like the Cold Weather Payment are open to those who are unable to work and those who have dependents. You may qualify for more than one scheme, so it is important to check and see what you're entitled to. In particular, the Winter Fuel allowance may not be automatically applied to you, so it's worth seeing whether you qualify for it, and if so, how to apply.

Some of the available energy schemes include:

  •  Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) 
  •  Warm Home discount scheme
  •  Winter Fuel Allowance
  •  Cold Weather Payment

Further advice

If you're looking for ways to keep your home warm without increasing your heating and fuel costs, gransnetters have shared some practical energy saving tips that may help balance your usage and keep rooms warmer for longer. 

  • "I would add that when the weather was really cold last year it helped to close doors, particularly upstairs doors. And close curtains in unused rooms. Any "solar gain" from sunshine in the middle of winter is not going to be very significant. Once the light started to go in the afternoon I went round and closed all the curtains. It made a lot of difference in my fairly large and supposedly energy-efficient house." JessM
  • "I'm also going to get a cover for my immersion. The cover it has seems to keep it pretty warm but I'm still going to get an extra one." Tegan
  • "We also have kitchen foil or the thicker specialist foil available from DIY stores behind any radiator on an outside wall. This reflects heat back into the room." FlicketyB
  • "Efficient boiler - we can flick a radiator on in the bedroom before we go to bed and the room is hot in 10 minutes and the radiator can then be switched off again, and keeping doors shut." Mishap
  • "I read that if you put the thermostat on at the lowest temp and the radiators on max ALL THE TIME it gave you the best run for your money." Stansgran
  • "We tried leaving our heating on 24 hours using the thermostat to control the temperature. Turned it down to 12 at night, 15 if we were out all day. First person in turned it back up to 20. We found the house warms up really quickly. And our bills stayed the same!" NfkDumpling