When do you first turn on the heating in your house? This seemingly minor question can get a lot of people hot and flustered.
Some people simply turn the heating on at the first sign of Autumn chill. But others will hold on for as long as they can in an effort to save money, help the environment or simply to make a point to their housemates.
One part of the problem is some people feel the cold much more than others. One person’s bone-numbing chill is another’s raging furnace.
Cue arguments – in households and across social media – about when it’s acceptable to turn up the thermostat for the first time after the summer. Some people are outraged that someone has had the audacity to turn on the heating before the start of Autumn; others take sympathy with the shivering home dweller that resorted to turning up the thermostat.
If no one in your house can agree, perhaps the best way to choose when to turn on the heating is to follow the masses: in 2019, energy supplier Eon found the average Big Switch On day was the 8th of October.
Quite frequently, a freezing member of the household will resort to turning on the heating on the sly. This was the case for 51% of people in Eon’s survey.
Perhaps, if it’s getting too cold, then you could compromise and turn the heating on at a lower temperature than you might have done previously. Whatever temperature you choose, if it feels a little chilly, then take some comfort from comparing it with the average home temperature in 1970 - a rather nippy 13.7C.
What is the right temperature?
Resist the temptation to just whack your thermostat all the way up when it gets colder.
Try setting it to the lowest comfortable temperature, typically between 18°C and 21°C, and keep it at that level. If the temperature outside drops, turning up your thermostat won’t make your home heat any faster.
When it comes to saving energy, and money, every degree makes a difference. Turning the temperature down by just 1 degree could save you up to £80 on average over a year and reduce your home’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 320kg, according to the Energy Saving Trust 2. And let’s face it, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in temperature.
Smarter technology can also help. Some houses have thermostatic radiator valves, which allow you to control the temperature of your individual radiators. That means you can turn down the heat in rooms you aren’t using.
Or you may have smart heating controls that connect to the internet, allowing them to be accessed and adjusted remotely.
There are also several steps you can take to keep your home from getting as cold in the first place.
Give your radiators some TLC
Your radiators require just a little bit of love and care each year.
That includes bleeding them to ensure they work as efficiently as possible. You should also make sure your furniture isn’t jammed up against your radiators; otherwise it will be absorbing heat rather than letting it circulate the room properly.
Finally, give them a dust as a build-up of grime can prevent the heat from escaping.
Insulating pipes can be an easy way to reduce heat loss, and you can do it yourself.
In a typical 3-bed semi-detached house, materials will cost around £20, and you will save around £3 a year on your energy bills. So, you’ll soon pay back that small investment and you’ll have a cosier house to boot.
Lagging, the material used for pipe insulation, also reduces the chances of pipes getting too cold and bursting or freezing, if they’re external, during the colder months.
Close your curtains
It’s easy to overlook the benefits of simply closing your curtains to keep the warmth in and the cold out.
Draught-proof your house
You might spend a fortune on heating only for it all to seep away through the gaps.
One way to avoid that happening is to draught-proof windows, doors, floorboards, loft hatches and any other gaps in your home.
A good DIY draught-proofing job could cost between £85 and £275 for materials and professional installation for your whole house. But draught-proofing windows and doors could save you £20 a year on heating bills. It will also make your home feel far more comfy.
There are plenty of ways to keep your home warm and cosy when the weather turns cold.
For more information about how to protect your home and belongings, go to Solved.