As a three-month campaign to help households in Wales reduce their energy consumption and fuels bills draws to a close, industry experts have shared their top tips for keeping warm whilst cutting costs over winter.
Big Energy Saving Winter, organised by Citizens Advice, runs up until the end of January and provides information and practical guidance on saving energy, money, and the environment through greater efficiency.
Whilst the latest figures indicate a 1.8% decrease in emissions caused by residential energy use in 2019, compared to the previous year, it is expected to rise again with more people working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
OFTEC, which represents the liquid fuel heating industry, including those on oil heating, is supporting the ‘Big Energy Saving Winter’ campaign with guidance on how households in Wales can reduce their energy consumption and save on unnecessary heating costs during the winter lockdown. The advice includes:
- Adjust your heating timers and thermostats
Remember to regularly adjust your timers to ensure the house only warms up when you need it to and that you only heat the rooms you regularly use. Nudging down the thermostat by a few degrees can save you money in the long term, but don’t lower it too much as living in a cold home can be bad for your health.
- Upgrade your heating controls
Many homes have a simple thermostat which sets one temperature for the whole house. Installing a more advanced system can enable you to set different temperatures for each room throughout the day and even learn your habits for automated heat settings. You can also control your heating remotely, saving money by turning off the heating when you are not at home.
- Bleed your radiators
It’s recommended you regularly bleed your radiators, particularly if you notice they are not warming up as quickly as they usually do. This will ensure they are working at maximum efficiency and keeping your house warmer.
- Don’t ignore your boiler
It’s easy to forget about your boiler but regular maintenance is important to ensure it is working efficiently. We recommend having it serviced at least once a year by a GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) registered technician, who are still working during the lockdown. They are fully qualified and will complete the work safely and to the highest standard. We recommend you discuss the service visit with the heating technician first to ensure it is carried out in a Covid-safe way.
- Consider an upgrade
Modern, condensing boilers are typically smaller, quieter and more efficient. So, installing a new boiler can help reduce your fuel consumption, emissions and energy bills. For the 114000 oil heated households in Wales the good news is that oil remains by far the cheapest off-grid fuel. And, with a ‘drop-in’ renewable liquid fuel currently being developed, you can have peace of mind that your new boiler will help the planet in the future.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, commented: “With the recent national lockdown restrictions and cold weather spell, reducing our energy usage and helping to combat climate change might not be the first thing on everyone’s minds. However, it is incredibly important for our planet and can also help reduce fuel bills which could be a relief for many households.”
“We must also remember that the cost of energy is a real concern for many struggling households, particularly in rural parts of Wales with high levels of fuel poverty, which means they can often not afford the upfront cost of installing a new heating system. The good news for the 114000 homes in Wales on heating oil is that a renewable liquid fuel alternative should become available over the coming years which will help to dramatically reduce emissions without the expense of having to replace the whole heating system.”