Winter is now officially here and by now you’ve probably stocked up on your supply of home heating oil from You may well be feeling smug as well as snug, but you’ll feel even better if you know you’re making the most of your oil by insulating your home and by using your boiler more efficiently.

Here’s how you do it:

Use a programmable thermostat

If you have a set routine, then a programmable thermostat will save you quite a bit of oil and money. Set your timer so that your heating comes on half an hour before you get up in the morning and half an hour before you get home in the evening. You should also set it to turn off the heating half an hour before you go to bed – the radiators will still kick out heat for a while. Too many people turn the heating off as they’re going to bed – that’s 3.5 hours of effectively pointless heating each week!

Let the sun stream in through your windows

When the sun is up, open the curtains in the rooms that get those precious rays, even when it’s really cold outside. Obviously if there are rooms that don’t get much winter sun, keep the curtains closed to trap what heat there is.

Close the curtains as soon as the sun dips

You’ve captured that heat, so as soon as it’s dark, keep it in! Close the curtains as soon as it gets dark, and if your house is old, or you’re in a particularly cold area, use lined curtains for winter. You could also use drapes over your front and back doors, even if it’s just at night, so mornings aren’t so chilly.

Get busy with the silicone gun

You’ve looked at window frames, door jambs and your letterbox and covered them, but what about less obvious cracks or openings in your house? Look at the cat flap, or junctions where cement and brick meets things like cooker or boiler vents. When you find these cracks, seal them, as added together, they could be the equivalent of a small window being open all the time!

Get your bake on

There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s day than a slow-roasted chicken dinner, or a big casserole, as well as biscuits and cakes for Christmas. Your oven is a good source of heat, so turn down the boiler and make the most of it – you’ll have a well-stocked freezer and your Christmas treats all ready and you’ll feel cosy with it.

Throw down a rug

As well as feeling cold underfoot, uninsulated wooden floors pour out heat – up to 10% of a home’s heat loss! Even if you’re not a fan of rugs, use one over the winter in downstairs rooms so that you’re trapping as much heat as possible. You’ll really notice the difference.

Heat the person, not the house

If your house falls short of your 20-21C target by a degree or two, don’t crank up the thermostat to overcompensate, just put on a jumper, or a onesie. Have a hot drink on the go, bust out the fleecy blankets and add an extra one to your bed – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what 19C can feel like.

Image credit: CCP Grey/Flickr

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