For many years, a friend of mine has had a simple method to minimise the heating bills in their rather rambling family home. They have a house rule that the addition of another layer of clothing is mandatory before anyone is allowed to turn up the thermostat. It maybe a sign of true Yorkshire thriftiness but it works, and perhaps something many of us consider doing in the future given the current hike in energy prices with more to come.
Whilst on first reading they will seem obvious, there are numerous other ways to the save on your heating bills, improve the energy efficiency of your home or reduce the overall cost of maintaining what for many is their largest investment.
Some are at the expensive end of the spectrum. A new boiler, sealed unit double glazed windows or solar panels all come to mind but they do have long payback periods. But others cost very little and are often easy to install particularly if you live in somewhere similar to my friend.
Does the timeclock of your thermostat reflect your lifestyle or is it still on factory default and burning fuel when it’s not needed? But what if you have lost the manual? Well I can assure you from personal experience that most are available online and like most things, it’s not difficult to sort when you have the right instructions. And if you take say 30 minutes off each end of the day, over a year I calculate that is the equivalent of just over 15 days with your heating on permanently 24 hours a day.
Modern houses are designed to be much more energy-efficient but with the stock of housing across large parts of Yorkshire being much older, simple draft proofing can work wonders especially when using the lights of V-Seal excluder around poorly fitting doorways. And even basic foam strips can make a huge difference around old style sash windows, particularly when you are unlikely to be opening them much over the winter months. Others have commented widely of late about making more economic use of electrical appliances around the home, and I will be bow to their better knowledge. But in terms of property itself, asset protection should remain high on your agenda particularly if we are moving into a period of austerity. Better known as building maintenance, this is an area that can be a major source of potential cost savings especially if addressed at this time of year. Or to put another way, if you ignore it, it can cost you a lot of money and probably at a time when you least want it. Simple tips include getting your boiler serviced and do get that slipped slate on the roof fixed before we have heavy rain and don’t forget to clear your gutters before they block up and cause greater problems down the line.
As I have said before, I remain surprised how much basic property maintenance is ignored by homeowners, meanwhile there is a lovingly kept vehicle on the drive. As for my friend with his rambling family home, I am planning to buy him a base layer for his birthday to go under that extra sweater.
Tim Waring FRICS is Head of Residential at Lister Haigh