How can I reduce my energy usage/heating bills? Super tips!

winter-houseFollowing on in our few days of very seasonal heating & energy themed posts, I thought it would be worthwhile for us to share our super-greenie tips for reducing energy consumption (and bills!).

Whenever I read/hear mainstream media advice on cutting back on energy usage, it’s always the same basic stuff: put on a jumper, close your curtains and turn down your thermostat – very useful tips but when you’re already in your woollies, with your heavy lined curtains closed and your thermostat as low as it will go, they’re not that much help.

I’m presuming that most of the people that read this site – particularly the regulars (hi beloved regulars!) – will already be doing more than the basics — so what are your green+ tips for reducing your heating and electric bills?

Have you installed solar panels or some other expensive-but-more-sustainable heating alternative? Have you installed fake ceilings or partitioned rooms to make them easier to heat?

Have you insulated somewhere out of the ordinary? Ceilings? Floors? Walls? Did you insulate with something different to normal (and/or recycled)?

Have you modified your windows to make them less of an energy leak? The other day Lizzy mentioned using cling film to make secondary glazing – any other secondary glazing tips? Anyone gone for triple-glaze or the equivalent? Did it make a difference?

What about smaller, less-expensive things too? Wrist warmers, snuggy slippers, hooded scarves for around the house? A strategically positioned cat or loved one to stop your feet getting cold? Cutting down drafts between rooms with curtains/draft excluders?

What else?

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23 Responses to “How can I reduce my energy usage/heating bills? Super tips!”

  1. Lynsey says:

    I make wrist warmers by cutting the wrists off wool jumpers before I felt them to make other things (this is when they are already starting to shrink – my local charity shops saves them for me!) If you cut them off after you have shrunk them they can stretch very easily – the elastic goes in the wrist section. I pretty mine up by using thrifted buttons from my vast collection! And of course the rest of the jumper gets used in my crafts! we also have lots of blankets around – crocheted ones mainly that I buy from the charity shop and they go over us on an evening. Also I do a lot of work from my laptop so that’s a extra heating source!

  2. Claire Sale says:

    I may be a bit biased since I work for a company that makes energy displays, but as a regular reader it excited me so much to see this post! Energy displays are simple little devices that clip on to your mains. They tell you how much energy you’re using in an easy to understand way.

    That way you can learn where you’re wasting energy and start to use less. Simples!

  3. Bobbie says:

    I wish I could say I’ve invested in alternative energy, but is still is so expensive that the average person can’t afford the startup cost. I’m hoping that when my heat/cooling system needs replacing (it is a heat pump) that the other energy forms will have matured and costs have declined. But for right now, some (unusual) things I do to conserve energy:

    1.Put a lid on a pot. It heats so much faster and saves electricity.
    2. In winter open the door of the oven after baking, so the warm air is not wasted.
    3. Use my crock pot often.

    I’m in the process of caulking my windows for winter. Goes right along with the window washing. he he.

    I AM going to try hotbox cooking, where you bring (say a pot of beans) to the boil, then take off the heat and layer blankets etc. into a box, or laundry basket with the pot right in the middle. Leave for several hours, then voila! cooked food. Here is a link.

  4. Alice says:

    I live in a flat ABOVE someone who spends a lot of money on heating. The heat travels up into my flat, reducing my heating bills and keeping me nice and toasty… *hee hee!*

    • louisa says:

      Teehee, very handy ;)

      We actually have planned the layout of our new house to take advantage of the heat rising thing – we had the option to have our office on the very top (converted attic) or very bottom (lower ground floor – the house is on a slope so we have two ground-level floors…) of the house. We both work from home most of the week so the office will be well used/frequently heated (to comfortable levels, not superhot).

      The attic has insulation under the floorboards but not (yet) on the roof, so heat up there will be largely lost. At the very bottom of the house, the heat will rise to gently warm the room above – the living room. Above the living room is our bedroom, with all three sharing a chimney stack, so as the day goes on, we’ll move up the house with a bit of the rising heat. That’s the plan anyway ;)

  5. Nikki says:

    My boyfriend and I play a lot of Dance Dance Revolution and sports on Wii…moving around makes us super warm. It’s not uncommon for it to be snowing out and we’re sweating in t-shirts inside!

  6. We’ve installed a raised Oak floor, with closed cell insulation foam underneath (75mm), foil backed both sides. It made a real difference last year. We also replaced the double glazing as the old windows were 25 years old and probably never filled with inert gas. It’s really made a difference to reducing heat transfer from interior to exterior of the house.

  7. Marnie says:

    In the winter when I am at work, is it better to keep the curtains closed (to reduce the cold air blowing to cool off the house) or is it better to keep them open (so that the sun can warm up the room)? I obviously keep the curtains (lined so they are thermal) closed at nite. Thanks

  8. Marnie says:

    I’m wondering about it for any/all of the windows. Some get morning sun, some get afternoon sun.

    • Lizzy says:

      open the morning sun ones in the morning and the afternoon ones in the afternoon because the sun really does warm it up. Close all curtains before twilight though.

  9. Melinda says:

    -I’ve seen a big difference from closing off unused rooms, whether for a day or for a season.
    -We’ve put aluminum foil behind radiators to increase the uh, radiation.
    -Enclosing the porch for the cold season makes a great difference in the room above it.

  10. kittykat says:

    Wanna save a ton of money in the wintertime? Please seriously consider
    if you can copy what I have done. In my grandmother’s time people used an “ice box”. This was the refridgerater, but it was non electric– you had to put a large block of ice in it and that kept the contents cold. Well, in those days, modern insulating materials (think NASA) had not been invented yet. I own a large Coleman ice chest cooler. It will keep ice frozen for 5 days in 90 degree weather. In America it is common for people to only use this thing once a year, or so, for an annual camping trip, and the rest of the year it sits unused. Not mine! If you live where
    the overnight lows will freeze ice (for free!) UNPLUG your electric fridge and use an “ice box”–instantly cuts up to 30% off your power bill. Oh yeah, one more thing… I keep my “ice box” INSIDE the refridgerater to take full advantage of it’s insulation—my ice stays cold up to 8 days, then I just plug the fridge back in to make more ice overnight. With solar
    energy being all the rage as a clean alternative energy source for heat,
    we need to remember that we can use nature to keep things cold too.

  11. kittykat says:

    Picture in your mind your sofa. That picture in your head is pretty much a standard scene: room for 3 or 4 people to sit side by side, some sort of cushioning behind to facilitate back support, and usually an arm rest on each side. All that is missing is the hood. The WHAT? The hood–
    like the hood of your car, only for your sofa. Make it out of anything you
    want ( PVC pipes and thick comforters is my recipe). Every year for a few
    months (the COLD ones) I turn my sofa into a sort of snuggly CAVE. Then, I can concentrate my heating efforts to a smaller space— that I occupy most evenings. I like to drape an electric blanket over the sofa,
    curl up with my hot tea, and I can keep the rest of the house colder.

  12. kittykat says:

    If you wanna get the optimum amount of sleep, you figgure on being in the rack for 8-9 hours. Instead of heating the whole house, concentrate on heating the bed! An electric blanket, and lots of thick cover layers, along with flanel sheets, and you’re all set. The hard part, of course, is getting out of bed in the morning. Don’t. Set up your coffee pot right next to the bed. You know those dinky, teeny, crock pots that Rival makes, called: “The Little Dipper”? ( They are marketed as a place to melt nacho cheese sauce). Mine is next to my coffee pot, and they’re on a timer. When my alarm goes off in the morning I have hot coffee and a little crock of hot oatmeal ready to start my day. Good Morning!

  13. kittykat says:

    We all know that to save energy on heating, turn the thermostat down as low as you can possibly stand it. Well, that does work, but as many
    people know, it’s an unpleasant thermal shock to your system, (and can
    actually mess up getting a good night’s sleep) when you sit on a cold toilet seat in the middle of the night. LOL. When my bath towels get old I use them to make a thick terrycloth cover for my toilet seat. Trust
    me, this is one repurposing project that you will be thankful you did!
    Basically, my cover looks just like those disposable paper covers you see in public restrooms, except mine is heavy, hand washable (often!),
    and it happens to match my bathroom. I use some old repurposed shoe laces to tie it onto the seat, same way you tie chair pads onto a chair.

  14. kittykat says:

    In the wintertime the days are shorter, so we get more dark hours. I love to have dinner by candlelight every night. It is very romantic, plus,
    it saves electricity. We are trying a new concept at my house this year;
    “candle/solar season”. We have all kinds of non electric light sources, some more powerful than others, so we are not using electricity for light
    (only) from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, just to see what this kind of lifestyle is like.
    There is a family I read about who has “Pioneer Days” at their house–
    they delberately go for 2 weeks without using any electricity so their kids can see what it was like “back in the days……….”One concept that I am starting to see more and more of on the www is the idea that our energy consumption can be put on a diet via a “part-time” use status.

  15. kittykat says:

    Here’s a little known fact; protein in your diet creates heat in the body.I found out from a food anthropologist that those people in New England
    who have a ceramic “bean pot” for fixing beans don’t just love the beans for the flavor. Turns out, eating beans in the winter helps you to stay warm. Who knew?! Also, don’t eat spices like hot chilli peppers,
    as anything that makes you sweat could make you cold. Sweating is how the body cools it’s self. Investigate ways to have high protein meals but learn how to avoid high saturated fats. My secret weapons this winter; LENTILS, beans, almonds, and peanut butter. YUM!

  16. Lizzy says:

    make a few draught excluders from scraps of material :)

  17. Pet says:

    We’ve got a low temperature floor heating system.
    Since floor heating only needs a low temperature, it is a waste of energy to heat up the water too high and then mix it with cold to get the right temperature.
    Big problem with floor heating is that the pumps are working 24 hours a day. So, now we have a pump switcher, which only switches the pump on when the heating is on and the water is warm enough.
    We leave the thermostat on 16.5 degrees Celsius, day and night. Cooling down in the night requires too much energy in the morning to warm up. 16.5 degrees Celsius is much lower than normal, but floor heating feels more comfortable, even with lower temperatures, since it is everywhere in the room.
    We have 13 solar panels on the roof. They produce more than half of our electricity consumption.
    We’ve got a water saving shower, which really uses only 1/3 of our previous one.

  18. Nate says:

    @Pet: “Cooling down in the night requires too much energy in the morning to warm up.” — actually, this is a misconception.

    I like to think of it this way: the amount of heat you need to create is equal to the amount of heat you lose through the walls, ground, etc. If the house is set to the same temperature all night, you lose some amount of heat. If the temperature drops during the night because the system is off, the average temperature is lower. Since heat loss is proportional to the temperature difference, you lose less heat. Since you’re losing less heat, you need to create less heat!

  19. Richard says:

    Good home care practice now means checking the house top to toe to ensure adequate insulation – you don’t want any nasty draughts. Any ‘holes’ in your homes protection will potentially lead to higher bills as you use more energy – and pay more – to compensate.

    After managing the downside, there are new options to exploit renewable energy. Solar panels fitted to the roof can provide for low cost, and even free electricity. So solar PV is now an important weapon in ‘reducing costs’, not just for ‘going green’.

    In the UK, new Government schemes enable eligible households to claim free solar panels if they feed back excess power into the grid network. You get free electricity, added value to your home (the roof is now a powerful asset), and you get to lower your footprint harnessing renewable energy sources. We encourage everyone to have a look at free solar from We hope you’ll join us.

  20. panel says:

    Investing in micro-generation technologies (such as Solar PV) is a great way to reduce bills and will actually provide an inflation proof long term investment.

    However, simple insulation can achieve significant reductions in heating bills. If you have un-insulated cavity walls or a loft with less than 27cm of insulation then a small outlay can give surprisingly good results.

    Many cavity wall and loft insulation grants are available. Contact the Energy Saving Trust for more info on your options.

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