Many of us have noticed the slight dip in temperature over the last couple of weeks and its a sure sign that autumn and winter are truly on their way. With so many of us spending more time at home than ever before, it’s easy to just turn the thermostat up a few degrees every now and then without really thinking about it.
With the days getting shorter and the weather set to be cold and wet, there’s no better feeling than being all snug in your home, but keeping you and your home warm is expensive. Winter fuel consumption accounts for around 70% of all household energy consumption and, shockingly, in the UK, around 11% of people cannot afford to keep their homes warm using central heating.
Facing winter, especially one where we will likely be indoors for most of the time and where a lot of people have suffered from job loss and disruption throughout the year, can be a bit of a bleak thought, even without the worry of cost. But, on the other hand, no one wants to be in a chilly and unheated home. With this in mind, here are some ways as to how you can keep your house warm and maintain heat without central heating.
Problems Caused By Heat Loss
Before you consider lessening your heat consumption, you should assess the areas in your home where heat loss is most prevalent. Heat loss is a major contributor to having a low indoor temperature and is often quite a straightforward fix. Often, it is older or poorly constructed homes which suffer the worst heat loss due to problems such as empty and uninsulated loft space, air leaks, poor window fitting and poor standards of insulation. If you are feeling drafts in your home or find that the walls are particularly cold in the winter months, then you have heat loss issues.
Heat loss can cause a whole host of issues if left untreated, such as damp, poor air quality, pests and can even cause havoc with your health. If you are noticing signs of heat loss, you should investigate the causes further before you decide to reduce your heat consumption.
Whilst the winter sun isn’t as strong as the sunshine we get in the summer months, it will help to heat your home to a certain degree. Be sure to keep your curtains and blinds open during the day, as the walls and floors will absorb some of the sunlight getting in during the day. Whilst this technique won’t heat your whole house, it will help, especially on those cold winter days when there is bright sunshine. You might want to try and figure out where the light hits your house at different times during the day so that you can plan when to open/close your curtains and blinds.
Invest In New Window Coverings
Whilst opening your curtains and blinds is a good way to let some natural heat in, the quality of your window coverings will have a huge effect on the way heat in your home is maintained. Poor quality curtains and blinds will cause heat to escape, meaning that your rooms will feel much colder than usual. Choosing thick or even thermal curtains will help to retain the heat collected in your home during the day, particularly in the bedrooms and living room, whilst blinds help to keep a solid layer between your room and the windows, which can get extremely cold in the winter.
It may sound contradictory, but if you notice condensation forming in your windows during the day or evening, or notice that your curtains or blinds are wet, then there is inadequate ventilation in the room, which can actually make the room feel colder and can cause damp issues. If this happens, open the window for a little while to let air flow in and keep the door closed, so that you’re not losing heat from all over the house. Good quality curtains or even bespoke blinds can be essential in maintaining heat in your main rooms during the winter months.
Invest In Warm Clothes and Bedding
If you’re out at work most of the day, then there is very little point in putting the heating on for a few hours once you get home. Not only does this make little impact on the long-term warmth of your home, but it can actually cost more than keeping your thermostat at a constant temperature of around 18º.
Constantly switching the heating on and off does very little when it comes to regulating the temperature in your home and can push your heating bills up considerably. Instead, make sure that your thermostat is set to a constant temperature during the week and invest in some warm clothing and bedding for when you are at home.
Look for ways to retain your body temperature whilst you are at home by wearing warm and thick clothes, as this is often a better alternative to high heating and energy bills during the winter months. Thermal leggings and sweat pants are great at keeping your legs toasty, whilst layering up on your top half in jumpers, hoodies and T-shirts is good at keeping warmth in. For bedtime, boucle, or teddy-bear, bedding is lovely and snug and keeps you warm during the night. Things such as pyjamas, dressing gowns and blankets are not only perfect for keeping snug during the winter but are long-lasting and warm.
As well as changing your wardrobe choices and window coverings, there are other things you can do around to home to keep your house warm without the use of central heating. Placing tin foil behind your radiators is a great way to warm your home, rather than directing heat onto your walls. Not only is foil a plastic-free way of keeping food fresh, but it’s a handy way to quickly insulate your home against the cold. The foil will reflect heat back into the room, rather than being absorbed by the wall behind it.
Pipe-lagging is less complicated than it sounds and means simply covering any exposed pipes with a foam tubing. This helps to keep the water inside the pipes warmer for longer, meaning that your boiler doesn’t need to work as hard and protects them against the cold.
If your kitchen is particularly chilly during the winter months, then a quick way to heat up the room is to use the heat from your oven. It might seem surprising, but after you’ve used your oven to cook your food, keep the door open whilst it is cooling down for a quick blast of heat.
Another way you can use your home to insulate and retain heat is by adding rugs or carpet to colder rooms, especially if you have hardwood floors. A rug or carpet acts like a coat or jacket for a room, rather than work on its own to fully heat the room, so if you have rooms which are cold, then laying down a thick pile rug will help to absorb some of the heat in there. Carpets and rugs aren’t just good at insulating heat, but they also work as sound absorbers, which are good if you live in a flat or apartment building.
Look After Your Radiators
Your radiators are likely the biggest source of heat in your home, so it is important that they are well-maintained and looked after, even if you are planning on reducing your central heating use. If something was to go wrong with your radiators, then not only would you not have heat, but they can be quite expensive to repair and replace.
One of the most common issues when it comes to radiators is that air can get trapped in the pipework, which prevents heat from distributing evenly and can lead to cold spots in your radiator. To avoid this, all you need to do is bleed your radiators by releasing the trapped air using a bleed key (they can be found cheap in hardware stores) and opening the small valve at the side of your radiator. You’ll hear a hiss as the air escapes, then as soon as you see a drip of water, close it again. If you do this, be sure to do it when your radiators are cold and off, as the water can be quite hot.
Another thing to do when it comes to your radiators is to avoid keeping clothes on there for too long. It can be tempting to put your cold clothes on there to warm up, but by doing this, you are constricting the heat from your radiator, meaning that the room will be cold. You should also avoid drying wet or damp clothes over radiators, as they can make the room feel cold and damp when the radiators aren’t in use, as the warmth from the radiator will cause the moisture to form as steam, which can lead to condensation on your walls.