In the UK, over 70% of energy is consumed during the winter months
Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. We spoke to Brian Horne, Home Energy Expert at the Energy Saving Trust who walked us through some of the main ways you can make your home more energy efficient in time for the winter, arranged into their cost to you: no-cost, low-cost, medium-cost and high-cost.
No-costThere are a number of things you can do at home to save energy that will cost you absolutely nothing at all, which begs the questions 'why aren't we already doing them?'
Changing your behaviour"Changing your behaviour at home can have a big impact on your household bills", explains Brian. "Simple things such as only putting the heating on when you need it and having it no higher than you really need it will bring your bills down. Also make sure all your appliances are not on when you're not using them. Even if they're not switched on, having them plugged in will still use a small amount of energy."
- Set the washing machine to wash at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures - £6/year
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as needed - £7/year
- Line dry your clothes instead of tumble dry in summer - £18/year
- Turn down central heating by just 1 degree - £85-£90/year
- Turn off appliances rather than leaving on standby - £30/year
- Turn off lights when not in use - £15/year
- Cut shower time down to 4 minutes - £15/year
- Use a washing up bowl rather than running the tap - £30/year
If every household in the UK turned off appliances rather than leaving them on standby, we could reduce energy bills by up to £790 million each year, saving enough CO2 to fill Wembley Stadium nearly 350 times.
Make sure you're with the cheapest energy supplier"Shop around to ensure you're getting the best rates as you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere." You may be able to save a few hundred pounds just by switching your electricity and gas suppliers. It may take a little legwork on the phone or online but the savings speak for themselves and it'll cost you nothing.
Basic draught-proofing"There are lots of easy, low-cost ways to make your home more energy efficient. Simple draught proofing is easy to do - making sure all windows and doors shut properly, sealing around skirting boards and ensuring any cracks are sealed off will help stop cold air coming in."
Related: How To Find & Fix Your Household Draughts
Draught-proofing your windows and doors can save you around £25-£30 a year.
Change your light bulbsIf you have regular light bulbs in your house, then it's a good idea to switch them over to energy saving bulbs. They don't cost a huge amount more and can save you money over the course of the year. You can also change halogen spotlights to LEDs which are also more energy efficient.
Choose energy-efficient appliances"If you're replacing your household appliances anyway, then always opt for the most energy-efficient versions available. It won't necessarily cost you much more to go for the energy-saving appliances over the other types."
Insulate your home"Properly insulating your home can help save a lot of energy. Loft insulation is a good place to start - at the Energy Saving Trust, we recommend 270-300mm as the ideal thickness for loft insulation. If you don't have any loft insulation, then installing the recommended thickness could save up to £140 and 580kg of carbon dioxide a year in a typical 3-bed semi-detached house.
7.6 million homes still have insufficient loft insulation"Cavity wall insulation is also a good idea if you have the right kind of walls, and if you have a solid wood or suspended wooden floor, you can potentially insulate under that as well."
Replace your ageing boilerIf you have an old boiler then it could be costing you money. Replacing it with a more modern version should make your home more energy efficient, although you'll be looking at around £1,000-£3,000 for a replacement, so we're potentially bordering on high-cost here. Replacing a G-rated boiler with an A-rated boiler and a full set of heating controls could save about £340 and 1,500kg a year.
Replace your windowsWhile replacing your windows is very cost effective, we're not above saying that replacing your windows fits into the high-cost bracket compared some of the other suggestions in this article.
If you don't have double glazing then installing it can make a real difference to the amount of energy you waste. If you can't install double glazing (if you have a listed property, for example), you can also fit secondary glazing which isn't quite as effective but is cheaper.
If you currently have single-glazed windows, then installing A-rated double glazing can save you around £85 to £110 a year. Installing secondary glazing could save you around £75 to £90 per year.
You should also think about whether your front or back door is helping or hindering your home's energy efficiency. Anglian offer front doors that are A and B rated which will help you on your quest for a warmer, more efficient home.
Solid wall insulationSolid walls let through twice as much heat as cavity walls, but the good news is they can be insulated to reduce this. This can be done through internal or external insulation, and although it's quite expensive to initially install, it'll save you a fair amount of money in the long term.
Internal insulation involves fitting insulation boards to the wall or build a stud wall and filling with insulation material. This can cost in the region of £3,000-£14,000.
Only 3% of the 8 million homes with solid walls have solid wall insulationExternal solid wall insulation involves fixing a layer of insulation to the outside of your walls before covering with special plasterwork or cladding. The finish can be applied in a variety of styles to match your house's current exterior as much as possible. This can cost around £5,000-£18,000.
Both types of insulation will save a standard semi-detached house around £260 a year on fuel bills.
Read more about solid wall insulation over at the Energy Saving Trust.
Is high-cost worth it?Brian thinks so: "True, some of the higher cost suggestions can take a while to pay for themselves, but this can change from house to house. It is definitely worth thinking about if you have the money."
So there we go - a range of suggestions to make your home more energy efficient and cut down on your fuel bills and the amount of energy you use.
If you'd like more information from the Energy Saving Trust, visit their website or call 0300 123 1234 (England & Wales), 0808 808 2282 (Scotland) or 0800 1422 865 (Northern Ireland).
*All stats provided by the Energy Saving Trust. All heating savings are based on a typical 3-bed, gas-heated, semi-detached house.