Combat erratic spring weather without relying on the central heating

The unpredictable and erratic spring weather we are experiencing in Britain means many of us are relying on our boilers more than we usually do in April. Energy Switcheroo offers advice on how to stay warm this spring without relying on the central heating.

There are many sensible ways you can conserve precious heat in your home. If you are going to try and save by limiting the central heating, or even turning it off completely, you will have to be prepared to be very organised about the way you do it.

Tips on saving home heating

  • Close every door as you enter or leave any room, make it a habit and train the family.
  • Make sure all windows are shut; any cracks and bad fitting windows need at least some temporary fix. Draughts under doors need excluders, they are cheap to buy and will really make a difference. Use fewer rooms, make a smaller comfortable area, and concentrate available insulation, rather than swopping around all over the house.
  • Carpets make a big improvement in heat retention, especially over stone floors; even some silver foil under a rug can keep your feet nice and warm. Hang insulated curtains over external doors; letter boxes in the door are a great looser of heat.
  • Wear more clothes, but keep them loose, the air trapped between layers, acts as good insulation. A lot of heat is lost through the top of your head, so wear a bobble hat. They may be unfashionable but long johns and thermal vests are excellent for staying warm and are a very good long term investment that will easily repay their cost.
  • Sitting still for long periods at the computer or watching TV will cause your body to get cold. Move around regularly, go for a brisk walk, your home will feel so much warmer when you return.
  • If it’s sunny, but a cold wind, it may still be worth opening the curtains. The sun on the glass will heat up the room. However as soon as it goes, close the curtains, cold glass can just as easily affect the room temperature adversely.
  • Feeling cold will make you crave calories, you may find that as your heating bill goes down, your food bill goes up.
  • If you have a loft, padding is not overly expensive, but you could put old blankets, duvets or even stacks of books ,magazines or cardboard boxes as cheap insulation.
  • If a house loses all its heat because the central heating is off, then it may take a serious amount of energy to re-heat it again. It would seem more prudent to try limiting it with thermostats and regulators, turning off radiators in rooms that are not used much. Turn your thermostat down 10 degrees, over 8 hours per day, this will save something in the region of 10% on your yearly bills.
  • Drinking hot liquids may make you feel warmer, but in fact they don’t really alter the body temperature. Filling a hot water bottle and stuffing it up your jumper works well, if unsightly. It takes quite a time for liquids to cool down below blood temperature. The only problem is using the kettle a lot will cost a fair amount of energy, the central heating may actually be cheaper.
  • One of the least costly and fun way to stay warm, when the UK weather turns, is to hang out with friends and family. People produce a lot of heat, especially if they are all gathered in one room. On the other hand you could visit lots of neighbours and friends for a quick cuppa, and then stay longer than intended in their nice warm living room. As long as they don’t find out you have a list of people you are planning on working through.

In a recent experiment a family did without central heating for a week, when it was very cold outside. Despite a lot of discomfort they managed it, but the estimated saving worked out less than £10 for the week. Although over the course of a season that would amount to a reasonable saving, the inconvenience may not be worth the saving. Far better to use central heating in moderation, alongside common sense heat saving solutions.