Heating the House Efficiently

We’d all like to stay nice and toasty during the cold winter months, so heating the home is something many of us can’t do without. Are you aware of how much energy it takes to heat your home though, and what’s the most efficient way to heat it? 

How much energy does it take to heat a home?

In our mild climate, an average home can use anywhere between 5,000 kWh and 30,000 kWh of energy a year for its heating.

It obviously depends on a number of different factors such as the size and age of the property, how well insulated it is, and of course, the personal decisions you make on your heating. It will also depend on what time of year you check - we’re likely to spend much more in the winter than the summer.

You might be able to get a more accurate idea of what you use by checking yourself or if you have an economy 7/10 meter installed. If you only use one type of fuel for your heating, it will be really straightforward – just a case of looking at your bill.

For most of us though, we use electricity or gas for our heating and things like cooking, appliances, lights and hot water.

If you have the time and inclination, it’s possible to get a rough idea of how much you’re using:

  • First make a note of your total energy usage from an old bill.
  • Next, make a note of what you use when the heating isn’t on (for example, during the hotter summer months).
  • You can then make the rough assumption that the balance between the two is your heating cost.

What’s the most efficient way to heat the home?

There are some people who claim that it’s best and most efficient to leave the heating on all the time. They argue that turning it on and off causes a buildup of condensation in the walls. Better they say, to keep it on but turn it down low.

Each to their own in our view, but we’d recommend that to save energy, and therefore money, it’s better to only use the heating when you actually need it. The most effective way to do this is with a timer. Used alongside a thermostat, the heating will then come on when you you’re in the house and therefore need it, and the temperature is controlled automatically by the thermostat.

Some modern systems have radiators that have (or can be fitted with) thermostatic radiator valves. These clever devices allow you to adjust the heating temperature room by room. This gives you much greater control over how much energy you’ll use and how much it will cost.

We have to accept that we lose heat from our property – our house essentially leaks it! But just how much will depend on how well your home is insulated. If you have cavity and roof insulation, as well as good double glazing and no gaps around your doors, you should lose relatively little compared to houses without those improvements. Adding insulation is a good idea to help you heat your house more efficiently.

If you have a choice between radiators and electric heaters to heat your home, go with the radiators. Electric heaters are one of the most expensive forms of heating generally speaking.

There may be other ‘tips’ you’ve heard of (painting your radiators black anyone?), though there is little evidence to suggest it makes any difference. Others advocate putting Clingfilm over windows to create an air pocket. While the physics in this is sound and it could help with your heating bills a little, it might also spoil the view of the garden somewhat!

Finally, if you’re going away over winter, there may be the temptation to turn your heating off completely. Be wary of doing this however as pipes might freeze and then burst. A burst pipe could set you back a lot more than you’d save on your energy bill.

Comparing energy prices

It makes sense to heat your home as efficiently as possible in order to limit the amount of energy you use. It also makes sense to buy your energy as cheaply as possible.

If you’ve not switched energy supplier in the past year, you’re likely to be on a standard tariff and can therefore almost certainly save money by switching to a new deal.

In the UK, 1.6 million customers switched gas suppliers and 2.2 million switched electricity suppliers  in the first half of 2016. Around half of those who switched across both fuels moved over to small or medium sized suppliers. It’s worth doing, according to Ofgem you could save on average £300 a year on your bills.  

We make the act of comparing energy tariffs and switching to a new supplier quick and simple. To find out how quick and simple, try it today - compare energy prices with comparethemarket.com.