- Households expected to ramp up the central heating as spell of mild weather comes to an abrupt end
- uSwitch.com urges consumers to make sure they fully understand their energy account to avoid any bill shocks
- Energy expert Shona Eyre offers top tips to stay warm and save money as the winter chill returns.
With forecasters warning that a big freeze is right around the corner, uSwitch.com is warning consumers to keep a tab on their energy usage as they crank up the thermostat.
Compared with average winter temperatures, the hourly cost of heating a home by gas central heating can increase by as much as 92% when the weather turns very cold, as boilers have to work much harder to keep our homes warm. That means that a week’s use of the central heating during a very cold snap could cost an estimated £19 more than usual per household. With temperatures expected to plunge into minus figures as February arrives, turning up the heating could mean a nasty shock for households across the country when their next bill lands on the doormat.
Shona Eyre, energy expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “Unusually mild weather in the first few weeks of 2018 might have lulled people into false sense of security, with many turning down their thermostats. But it looks like winter will be back with a bang over the next few days.
“Boilers have to work much harder to keep our homes warm when it gets really cold, so a prolonged period of freezing weather can have a significant effect on energy bills. If the forecasters are right and we are set for a particularly cold snap, it’s really important that households have a solid understanding of their energy account and take time to check if they could pay less with a different tariff. Switching tariff or provider takes less than 10 minutes and could save hundreds of pounds, helping to ease winter’s financial woes.”
“Any households with serious concerns about how they will afford to pay their bills over the rest of the winter should also investigate government schemes such as the Warm Home Discount or Cold Weather Payments, which can offer valuable help and support. Meanwhile people who find themselves struggling to pay off debt should talk to a charity such as Step Change which offers free advice and debt management support to anyone who needs it.”
Shona Eyre, energy expert at uSwitch.com, shares her top tips to help households keep warm this winter:
Look out for your neighbours: Cold spells can be particularly hard for elderly or vulnerable people – whether they struggle to keep warm or find it harder to go about their daily business because of the weather. If there’s any one you know might need extra help, check that they’re at least doing the simple things to keep warm and save money. And if they’re worried about the cost of heating their homes, point them towards advice on how to pay less.
Heat your home with cooking: leave the oven door open after cooking to let the heat warm your kitchen. The oven might give off enough heat for you to adjust your thermostat, a far more efficient use of that stored heat than throwing it out of your home with an extractor fan.
Bleed your radiators: if your gas central heating isn’t warming your home properly, it could be because there are pockets of air trapped in the system which prevent hot water from circulating effectively. This means that radiators aren’t as hot as they should be and take longer to heat your home. Bleeding your radiator releases the gases caught inside, vastly improving the efficiency of your entire heating system.
Curtains: curtains are great at preventing heat loss, but don’t let your curtains hang over the radiator as this will stop the heat from warming the room. Try to keep the surface of the radiator clear at all times.
Get cosy: wearing more layers and putting an extra blanket on the bed means you won’t need to turn the heating up quite so much, reducing the amount of fuel your boiler burns.
Letterbox flap: a letterbox flap to keep out draughts at your front door is another inexpensive investment. They are especially useful if the outer flap doesn’t fit or return to its position very well.
Meter readings: It’s important to provide regular meter readings throughout the year so that you only pay for the energy you use, instead of receiving an estimated bill which might charge you too much. This is particularly important during colder spells when you are likely to have the heating on for longer periods.
Switch and Save: if you’re worried about your energy bills the best thing to do is to shop around and consider switching to a different energy supplier and a cheaper tariff. The process is simple and only takes a few minutes – just visit our website www.uswitch.com or download our smartphone app and you could reduce your energy bills by over £400 a year.