With bills set to go through the roof this Winter, most of us are doing all we can to keep costs down. For us, that has meant a slight change to our home improvement plans. We had some money put aside to make some structural changes, but this will be spent differently now. Because first and foremost, we need to be able to afford the bills. Not just this winter, but in the years to come. I thought I’d share our plans to keep costs down, as well as a few things we are considering longer term and other ways to save money.
For me, loft insulation has to be the first home improvement on the list when it comes to keeping bills down. Insulating and boarding a loft makes such a difference to heat retention that it really does enable you to use the heating less. Plus, as home improvements go, it’s not the most expensive. If there are no complications and you only want a small area boarded, prices can start from just £600. We had ours done towards the end of last Winter and it is a relief to know that we’ve done all we can to keep the heat from escaping upwards.
As well as the roof, a significant amount of heat escapes through the walls of a property. If your house was built after the 1920s, you probably have cavity walls. This just means that there is a gap or cavity in the middle of your wall. Modern homes will have cavity wall installation installed during the building process. However, if your home is relatively old then there may be no insulation at all. It is worth getting a free quote to see how much cavity wall insurance will cost, and they will also be able to let you know if you already have it.
Whilst most of us have double glazing these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your windows are as efficient at keeping the heat in as they should be. Triple glazing is now available, and windows need to seal properly around the edges to be efficient. It is well worth getting your windows checked over to make sure they’re not letting an unnecessary amount of heat escape. But do bear in mind that the double glazing company will undoubtedly be trying to sell you an upgrade. So, it’s well worth getting three quotes. They should at the very least be suggesting the same improvements if there is a need to have work done.
More Efficient Heating Systems
We updated our boiler a couple of years ago, but if I was to do it again I would definitely go for an air source heat pump. These can heat both the home and the hot water, reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions. They tend to come in at a similar price to a combi boiler, so if you are looking to replace your heating system, it is worth researching the options. The Energy Saving Trust has some useful information on heat pumps.
The next on our list of home improvements is solar panels. The price of installation is coming down, costing on average between £6000 and £10,000. When we looked into it a few years ago, I think it was more around the £15,000 mark so if you’ve ruled it out due to cost, it is worth another look. We don’t have the money saved up to do this straight away but longer term, it is a route we will take.
Alternatives to Home Improvements
If these figures all seem a little out of reach, there are other things you can do to keep costs down a little. Unfortunately, they’re not going to be enough to curb rising costs, but hopefully they will help.
- Shower timer: Check out the save water save money website for a cheap shower timer, I just ordered mine for £3.69. They estimate that cutting a minute off your shower time will save around £30 per person per year. My children are currently spending at least 10 minutes each in the shower, so this is going to save us a fortune.
- Bleed the radiators: This may sound basic, but if there is air trapped in your central heating system, it won’t be working efficiently. Bleeding the radiators will allow it to function as it should, saving you money.
- Turn the hot water on when you need it: We have completely turned our hot water off. Our shower heats up without the hot water on and if we want to have a bath or use the hot water, we turn it on when we need to use it.
- Unplug: If you’re not using the television or desktop computer, unplug it completely. Having it on standby costs money.
- Avoid overnight charging: If you charge phones and devices overnight, you will continue to be paying for electricity all night, even when they are full. Instead, charge them when you are awake so you can unplug them when the battery is full.
- Turn the heating down: We will be turning down the thermostat this Winter. Just a couple of degrees saves you money.
- Draft excluders: Grab some draft excluders or make them from old clothes or towels. It’s another layer of insulation and costs next to nothing.