Worried about fuel bills and keeping warm? These tips and resources could help.
You can download a PDF version of the checklist here.
If you would like hard copes of this Winter Warmer Checklist to distribute to your kids club, food larder, or any other community group, please get in touch and we will send you copies.
Don’t pay more than you need to for your energy
Check how you pay your bill, it can make a big difference
- Paying by direct debit is usually cheaper than paying by cheque or cash.
- Paying monthly by direct debit can be cheaper than quarterly payments.
- Pre-payment meters can be the most expensive way to pay for your power. If you think a standard meter would be better for you, talk to your supplier. Most will swap them free of charge.
- Some suppliers charge for paper billing – getting bills by email may be cheaper, and more environmentally friendly.
On a manual prepayment meter?
The Energy Bills Support Scheme entitles every household to £400 off their bills. Most bill payers have this automatically credited to their bills. However, if, you are on a manual prepayment meter, this will be sent you by post, email, or text and you have 90 days to claim it. Find out more about prepayment meters.
Check your tariff
It is currently quite hard to switch suppliers, but this may change. Comparison websites can then help you check if you are on the best tariff.
Send regular meter readings to your energy company
If you don’t have a smart meter, submit regular meter readings to your supplier. This will help them bill you based on your actual use.
If you have a smart meter, these should submit your readings automatically. Smart meters are often provided with an energy monitor that can help you learn how much it costs to run different appliances. Alternatively, you can calculate it yourself using the guide below.
Get the support you are entitled to
Sign up to the Priority Services Register
If you are over 60, have young children, or use electrically powered medical equipment, register with your energy company and get extra help and support if there is a power cut. Where to register depends on where you live as you register with your network operator. To find out who your network operator is, put your postcode into this map.
For most Oxfordshire residents, register with SSEN. Find out more.
If you are a Western Power Distribution (WPD) customer, find out more here.
If you are a UK Power Network (UKPN) customer, find out more here.
When completing the form it would be really helpful for monitoring purposes if in the ‘How you heard about us’ section you select ‘Other’ and write Low Carbon Hub. Thank you.
Visit the Help for Households website
Financial support is available to help everyone with their energy bills this winter.
The Help for Households website explains all the different support that’s available for energy – and also sets out other national schemes that can help with the cost of living. Find out more.
Contact Better Housing Better Health
A free service helping all Oxfordshire residents to keep warm, stay healthy, and live well. Call them for free on 0800 107 0044. Find out more.
See what support your local council may offer
Different councils offer a variety grants and support; check out your local council’s website for more information.
Get the most out of your heating
Learn how your heating controls work
Sit down with a cup of tea and read your boiler manual. Alternatively, there are lots of how-to videos and guides on the internet for every heating system type, from combination boilers to storage heaters, which can help you get to grips with the basics.
- [Including videos] Central heating controls – Centre for Sustainable Energy [Also available as a PDF]
- Heating controls – Energy Saving Trust
Set your controls so your heating is only on when you need it
Set your heating so it is only on when you will benefit from it. Remembering to put on a cosy jumper ahead of the heating can help you save money. It’s basic, but should allow you to maintain the same comfort level. You can try:
- Setting the thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, usually in the 18-21 degree C range. Turning down by just 1 degree could save £75 from your energy bill.
- Setting the programme so the heating comes on just before you get up in the morning and get home for the day.
- Switch off the heating before you go out for the day, or go to bed, as your home will stay warm for some time.
Turn down heating in rooms you aren’t using
- Turn down radiators and heaters in rooms when you aren’t using them and set storage heaters to only heat rooms when needed.
- (Centre for Sustainable Energy)[Also available as a PDF]
- Radiators can be made more controllable by adding Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs). They can cost between £10-60 each. Digital TVRs are more expensive but can be programmed to adjust the heating in each room. Take care to protect rooms from damp and avoid frozen pipes by using frost-free settings.
- Storage heaters: there are a number of helpful guides to help you get the most out of your storage heaters
Get your heating system running at its most efficient
- Move furniture away from radiators so hot air can circulate.
- Bleed your radiators to remove trapped air.
- [Video] How to bleed a radiator
- If your radiators are hot at the top but cold at the bottom, the system might have sludge in it, and benefit from being professionally cleaned.
- Check to see if your heating system is suitable for running at a lower flow temperature. You may be able to save 5-10% on your heating costs.
- Air source heat pumps: This guide helps you to make the most of your air source heat pumps
Create energy-wise routines
- Open your curtains in the morning, to make the most of winter sunshine.
- At dusk close your curtains. If they cover a radiator, tuck them behind so the heat stays in the room.
- Close internal doors to trap the heat in the room.
- Try a different energy saving hack from our ‘no-cost /low-cost’ energy saving ideas each day and see which work for you.
- Check the programme on your heating controls and tweak to match changes in your household needs and length of days.
- Twice a year, adjust timers for daylight saving.
- Once summer comes, turn your heating off entirely – otherwise it may use fuel throughout the summer.
- Create a home emergency plan in case of power outages. Put together a kit that includes a torch, water, battery or wind-up radio, batteries, key medicines, and key contact numbers.
Keep your heat!
Once you have your heating working efficiently, consider which of the following DIY projects you could try to cut down draughts and retain your heat. If you rent, talk to your landlord first. There’s lots more information and links to further resources below.
- A great video that shows how to insulate the main areas of your home is this one from Which?.
- Add insulating tape around the door frames.
- Add a door brush to the bottom of the door.
- Add a keyhole cover.
- Draughtproof your letterbox or consider replacing with a tightly closing model.
- Make or buy a draught excluder.
- Use floor board draught excluder (£25 for 40m) that expands to fill gaps.
- Fill gaps between your skirting board and the floor.
- Rugs can help prevent heat loss through cold spots in floors.
- An open fireplace can lose lots of heat. If you aren’t using a fireplace, you can buy a ‘chimney balloon’ or ‘chimney sheep’ to prevent heat going up the chimney, or you can make your own. Just remember to remove it before using the fireplace again.
- Install thermal blinds or add thermal material to existing curtains to help trap in heat.
- Temporary ‘secondary glazing film’ can be put over single glazed windows, trapping an insulating layer of air. Cost £5-15 per window.
- Add more insulation to your loft. It’s recommended for homes to have 270-300mm of insulation laid on the floor of the loft.
- Find out more about loft insulation (Energy Saving Trust)
- [PDF] How to insulate your loft: A guide for the competent DIY-ers (Centre for Sustainable Energy)
- Add draughtproofing tape around your loft hatch and put insulation on the hatch itself too.
- Get an insulating jacket for your hot water tank and add lagging to pipes.
- Gaps around pipe outlets etc. can also be a source of draughts that can be filled.
- Add radiator panels behind radiators that are on external walls. There are lots of different types you can buy, or make your own with card and foil. Cost: around £8-12 per radiator.
- [Video] How to install radiator foil
Ventilation and condensation
- Air needs to flow in and out of your house, so it stays healthy. Make sure you don’t block any intentional ventilation such as air bricks, extractor fans, and vents.
From cavity wall insulation to installing solar panels, there are bigger changes we can make to our homes to make them more energy efficient, save money, and reduce our carbon emissions.
Explore what improvements are possible in your home with Plan Builder
This free online tool can help you explore and plan what measures might be suitable for your home and give you an idea of the potential costs. It covers all homes in Oxfordshire. Find out more.
Check to see what grants are currently available
You may be eligible for energy efficiency upgrades to be fitted to your home, free of charge. These upgrades are known as ‘retrofitting’ and could help to reduce your energy bills and make your home easier to keep warm. Currently, grants of up to £25,000 are available for qualifying households (available grants frequently change so it is worth regularly checking). Find out more.
See if the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service is right for you
If you have the funds to pay for work, and are considering multiple home improvements, this service provides a full, one-stop-shop service to help you increase the energy efficiency of your home. Visit cosyhomesoxfordshire.org.
Where to go for further support
Oxford City Council Handy Person Service
A wide range of help and assistance for Oxford City Residents to stay warm and safe in your home. Particularly suitable if you are over 65, have a disability, are on low income or have a long term health condition. They can help with loft insulation, draught proofing, boiler and storage heater repairs and servicing, gas safety works and radiator valves. Find out more.
Oxfordshire County Council
The latest energy efficiency grant news for Oxfordshire residents. Find out more.
Help for Households
Government website with key financial support available to help with the cost-of-living crisis. helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
Better Housing Better Health
Call 0800 107 0044 for free and impartial energy advice for all Oxfordshire residents from understanding your bills to accessing grants and support. Find out more.
Cosy Homes Oxfordshire
Start your energy efficiency journey with the free Plan Builder online tool. They also offer a one-stop retrofit service ideal for householders wanting to invest in transforming their house into a cosy home. Find out more.
For practical advice
- LEAP: The Energy & Money Saving Service. applyforleap.org.uk Freephone 0800 060 7567
- Energy Saving Trust: energysavingtrust.org.uk
- Centre for Sustainable Energy: cse.org.uk
- Money Saving Expert’s Energy Crisis Help: www.moneysavingexpert.com/energy
Join the call for change
Tackling the energy crisis, and preventing runaway climate change will take more than individual action. We need the government to also take action to fix our broken energy system. You can help by signing a petition calling for investment in energy efficiency and support for renewable energy.
Check out the Warm this Winter campaign.
Struggling with it all?
- Your local Citizens Advice can help with financial support and emergency fuel vouchers. Find out more.
- Can’t afford your energy bill? Contact your energy supplier. They may be able to spread out payments, or even reduce your bills.
- If it’s all getting too much, the Samaritans are waiting for your call. Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call free on 116 123 or visit their website here.
This checklist is also available to download as a PDF by clicking the link below.