So, you’ve mastered the central heating timer and stopped the sofa from blocking the radiator. Still wearing ski gloves in the living room? Let’s take this to the next level!
Read part one in this series: Five no-cost tricks to make the most of your heating
These heating tips are a bit more advanced than the last lot, but they're still cheaper and easier than insulating. And you’ll definitely notice the difference!
1. Bust those draughts
It’s time to plug all those little holes in your house that let out all your nice warm air! Draught busting is great because you can do as much or as little as you like, and it’s pretty easy. All you have to do is find the draughts and plug them!
Some draughts will be easy to track down (if you can see daylight through it, and it’s not a window, it’s probably a good place to start!). As for the others, one trick is to wait for a windy day, then hold an incense stick near a suspected draught source - the moving smoke will be a dead giveaway.
As for plugging the draughts, most heat escapes from windows and exterior doors. Add some weather strips round the edges to plug them. These also work for loft hatches.
Next, if you’ve got a chimney, plug it with a fireguard, chimney balloon or chimney sheep(!) available from DIY shops. And don’t forget to take it out before you light a fire!
Lastly, there may well be gaps in the floor, skirting board, and other places like electric sockets light fixtures and pipework. You can fill these with general household sealant.
2. Heat the room, not the walls
The trouble with radiators is that while one side heats your room up, the other side is putting the same amount of effort into heating the wall. This is especially bad on external walls, the heat just goes straight outside! Radiator panels help to reflect that heat back into the room.
If you really go to town and do every radiator in the house, you can save 15% or so on your heating.
You can buy them online or from hardware stores, and don’t worry, you don’t need to take the radiator off the wall. The panels slot in behind the radiator with all the dusty takeaway menus and socks, and stick to the wall using double-sided tape. It’s best to start with external walls that aren’t insulated; if you really go to town and do every radiator in the house, you can save 15% or so on your heating.
3. Cosy up to your hot water tank
Insulating your water tank and pipes is a great way of keeping the heat inside the pipes, so it heats the water not the airing cupboard. You can pick up a hot water tank jacket in a hardware store, and it’ll pay for itself in a few months. It needs to be a good, thick jacket (at least 75mm thick) to do the job properly. You will be the proud owner of the most stylish water tank in the street! And if that’s not enough, you can get little foamy tubes to insulate any exposed water pipes around the house.
4. Get curtains (no, not the haircut)
One of the major culprits for losing heat is your windows. So stop that escaping heat with some nice thick curtains! Keep them closed at night, and make sure they cover the entire window, including the edges at either side. You can also buy special thermal ones, which are even warmer.
But curtains aren’t just for windows! You can also put curtains across external doors to minimise drafts. This is especially good if the door in question has a window in it, or opens into a communal space like your living room. And drawing the curtains at night will not only make your house warmer, but provide entertainment as people fight their way through it to come inside!
If you don’t want to replace the curtains you’ve already got, you might prefer to buy curtain liners that you can sew into the backs of your curtains to add an extra layer of warmth.
5. Warm up your windows
If you have single glazed windows, double glazing can be a great way to keep the heat in. But, with a small budget or an unenlightened landlord, that might not be possible. But not to worry, there are great alternatives out there.
You could do a kind of DIY double glazing. No, I’m not joking, you actually can buy a sheet of glass and fit it inside your window. If you like a bit of DIY, this is a great option for you.
That might sound a bit ambitious, in which case you could try window film. It may not look so elegant, but it’s cheap and really easy to install. You start by attaching the thin sheet of a special clear plastic to the inside of your window frame using double-sided tape. So far, so crinkly. But here’s the good bit. Run a hairdryer over the plastic and it shrinks, making the creases vanish as the film pulls tight. After five minutes or so, the plastic should be nice and flat. It’s worth noting the film will make the window look a bit cloudy, so you might not want to put it on all your windows.
It’s as easy as that! Why not set aside a Sunday afternoon, grab the kids, crank up the radio and tick them all off. There’s a handy toolkit below so you can get everything ready and get going!
The draughtbuster's toolkit
General sealant (with the squirty gun)
Extra double sided-tape
Hot water tank jacket
Pipe insulator tubes
Curtain liners/curtains (cut to the right size)
Kids as willing volunteers (optional)
For a few no-cost ways to make the most of your heating, check out the first part in this heating series.
Cover image: Geoffrey Galloway, Creative Commons