Utility bills are continually on the rise and it is getting more expensive to maintain a warm and healthy home.
There are a wide range of solutions to making your home warmer and more energy efficient, but a lot of these can either be too expensive or, if you rent, not an option.
Our favourite way to keep warm without using too much electricity is to get cosy by an open fire or woodburner but we know this isn't possible for everyone.
So we have put together a list of our favourite top tips to help you reduce your bills, all of which can be done on a small budget.
Tip 1: Turn the thermostat down
Here at Permaculture magazine, we believe the best way to save money is to turn down the temperature and put on a jumper. There is no need to be walking around the house in shorts and a t-shirt all winter long, when as Tony Rollinson says, "turn down the heating by just one or two percent, enjoy wearing those lovely woolly jumpers and socks that our parents and grandparents used to, and go for a walk after your evening meal". Winter is for snuggling up in your cosy clothes. According to TheGreenAge, turning the thermostat down by just 1oC can save £60 a year.
Tip 2: Change your light bulbs
In the latest issue of Permaculture magazine, John Adams explores LED light bulbs which can dramatically reduce your bills whilst being kinder to the environment. A summary of the full article can be found here: www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/shedding-light-leds.
If you can't afford to change your light bulbs just yet, try turning your lights off when you leave a room. Even this simple solution can reduce electricity usage.
Tip 3: Wrap up your Windows
Soak and Sleep's top tip is to insulate the windows. They state that double glazing can save you around £170 a year. So if it is not possible for you to install double glazing, Soak and Sleep suggest using bubble wrap to thicken window insulation.
"The construction of the bubble wrap means that the small pockets of air provide a buffer between the cold air on the outside of the glass and the warm air inside your home. It can also be purchased relatively cheaply, with a large roll available for less than £10."
Bubble wrap is incredibly simple and requires no adhesive. All you need to do is cut the wrap to the height of the window, spray a light mist of water onto the window which will act as a seal, holding the wrap in place. Place the bubble wrap on the window and there you have it!
Soak and Sleep believe, "If your windows are only single glazed, you'll be losing up to 20% of heat through them. This method can cut the loss by around 10%*," giving you a saving of £100-£300 per year**
*based on standard heat loss from a standard insulated home.
**Saving calculations based on 4hrs a day max radiator output (800W to 1200W)
Tip 3: Use Curtains as Insulation
Soak and Sleep's second top tip to reducing your heating bills is to use curtains.
"As previously highlighted, a significant amount of heat can be lost through the windows of your home."
"Thick curtains with a thermal lining are one of the best options of reducing this heat loss and according to Carl Brennand of Moneymagpie, 'the thicker the better.'"
So if you cannot or choose not to replace your curtains, try lining them to help reduce heat loss.
"You can use cheap materials such as fleece, but for the ultimate thrifty trick use a shower curtain to line your curtains." These can be bought for a few pounds - a lot less than buying thick curtains.
All you need to do is hang the shower curtain between your window and normal curtains on the same rail, and you could save £50-80 per year**.
** Based on average yearly heating being 160W and average heat retention of 80W.
Tip 4: Use a Radiator Booster
When visiting an insulation project in Brighton last year, I was very lucky to be given an 'energy saving pack'. Included in my pack (worth over £100 - very lucky me), was a radiator booster.
At first I thought it looked a bit cheap, but after only a day or so, I noticed a huge change in the temperature of my room.
These boosters sit on top of the radiator, pulling in hot air and radiating it out into the rest of the room.
These can be bought for around £20, and although I was given mine, I am definetly kitting out the rest of my home with these. With more radiated heat, this means the thermostat can be turned down a few degrees.
Tip 5: Use Tin Foil
Another piece of kit included in my 'energy saving pack' was a pack of radiator foil.
If placed behind a radiator, it can reflect heat back into the room, making the most out of the radiators heat.
There are various different options out there offering insulated materials with foil covers, most that can be cut according to size and stuck onto the wall behind the radiator. But even normal kitchen foil can be used for this, at a fraction of the cost!
For more tips from Soak and Sleep visit www.soakandsleep.com
For those with a woodburner or fire, learn how to get the most out of your wood from The Log Book by Will Rolls for just £5.96 from our shopping site (also available as a PDF)