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Top tips to keep your energy bills down this winter | Energy bills

There are a number of cheap or free steps you can take to cut energy bills.

For example, households can typically shave £160 off their annual costs with three “no-cost tweaks” to their home heating, according to Katy King, the deputy director of sustainable future at the charity Nesta.

“Reducing boiler flow temperature to 60 degrees and setting hot water temperature at 42 degrees on a combi boiler, as well as turning down radiator valves, together should lower costs while maintaining comfort,” King says.

Turning down the boiler flow temperature results in an average annual saving of £65, while adjusting the hot water is typically worth about £17, and turning down radiator valves is another £78.

With some people reluctant to fiddle with their boiler settings, Nesta offers a step-by-step guide on its website, moneysavingboilerchallenge.com/walkthrough.

Controls on a domestic gas boiler.
Some people are wary of changing the settings on their boiler. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Also think about draught-proofing your home. Professional draught-proofing of windows, doors, and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards costs about £250, but it can save you about £90 a year on energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Mike Norton, the trade and projects director at the kitchen specialist Magnet, says: “If you are unsure what areas are letting in the most draught, you can do a quick DIY test. Close all windows and doors and turn off any appliances in your home that can cause a disturbance in the air. Light a candle or stick of incense and hold it up to where you suspect there may be a draught. If there’s a draught, the smoke will move towards that area.”

Draught-prone areas include windows and window frames, exterior doors and their frames, floorboards, electrical outlets, vents, and attic hatches or access points.

One of the easiest ways to tackle draughty windows is by using weatherstrips. These are readily available at DIY stores or online and cost as little as £5, depending on the amount you need.

“There are two types of weatherstripping to choose from, including metal or plastic strips with brushes attached, and self-adhesive foam strips,” Norton says. “The latter are cheaper but are not as durable as plastic or metal strips.”

For gaps at the bottom of front and back doors, the most easy-to-install, durable and affordable choice is a brush draught excluder. Around the sides and top of the doors you can then use rubber draught seal, which is also cheap and easy to install.

Last year, the draught excluder, a 1970s’ favourite, made a surprise comeback, and it is possible to spend a little or a lot on this energy saver, with homeware specialists such as John Lewis, Next and Dunelm stocking plenty of options.

A window with curtains drawn in a north London street.
Closing curtains and blinds can shave 2% off your annual energy bill. Photograph: Terry Mathews/Alamy

At £40, the John Lewis Dora Designs Schnauzer is likely to be a hit with animal lovers, while over at Dunelm, you can pick up a 92cm velvet one for only £14 at the time of writing.

Or get out your sewing kit and make one, perhaps using rolled-up towels or similar.

Also, don’t forget to close curtains and blinds, as getting into this habit can shave 2% off your annual heating bill. And think about adding a thermal liner. They trap cold air draughts and stop them moving into your home while preventing warmth from escaping. Liners, which are sold widely, can be added to existing curtains and in the summer work in reverse – blocking excess sunlight and preventing a room overheating.

It is a good idea to plug unused chimneys. Blocking one off with a draught excluder can cost as little as £30 and could save about £65 a year, says the Energy Saving Trust. The best option is an inflatable draught excluder or similar device that will fit snugly inside your chimney. Again, they are easy to pick up in a DIY store or online.

Do your best to stop heat escaping through the floor. And if you are looking to change your carpet or flooring, consider putting down a good-quality underlay.

If you have bare floorboards, invest in a rug or move ones you own into the rooms that get used the most in winter.