Prepare to make savings on your winter fuel bills!

I’m sitting here in a woolly jumper, jeans and socks.

On Saturday we were walking the South Downs in T-shirts, in searing hot sunshine, loving the silvery, glittering sea views and summer-blue sky. I even caught a few new freckles.

It’s a bit of a shock to wake up this morning to howling westerlies, pencil lead grey skies and sneaky draughts chilling my midriff. I’m thinking about adding another layer…

All of which got me thinking: it’s time to prepare for the really cold stuff. Like millions of other people we want to minimise our energy consumption this winter, for financial reasons, green reasons and as a  matter of principle. Getting ready in good time makes it much easier to save money on gas and electricity.

Here are some simple tips for ensuring you’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug in cold weather without bankrupting yourself.

  • Check if you’re eligible for a grant to insulate your roof space. Go to for the details, or search for ‘insulation grant UK’ and take your pick of advice websites. And check if your local council subsidises roof insulation.
  • Add an extra layer of roof insulation. Current building regulations recommend a minimum depth of 270mm. It’s pretty cheap from places like B&Q, and there’s loads of good information about every aspect of insulation here:
  • Check the draught proofing round your doors and windows, internal and external. If it’s worn out (or will be soon), replace it. You can buy a variety of different anti-draught products at B&Q, from simple stick-on foam to that stiff paint brush-like stuff with an aluminium edge that you screw to the bottom of doors.
  • Go vintage crazy and buy lovely old velvet or brocade curtains – make your own door curtain for front and back external doors. They’re brilliant for keeping out the stray draughts every door on the planet seems to let through
  • Turn the heating on to test whether it’s OK. If not, get a heating engineer round now before the autumn gets a grip and experts suddenly become as rare as hens’ teeth, busy fixing thousands of other people’s systems
  • Bleed your radiators. If you don’t have a clue what I’m on about, it’s easy. Buy a radiator key in B&Q or your nearest hardware store. It fits into a hole at one end of your radiator, at the top. Turn the key until you hear faint hissing, then stop. If you open it right up, water will spill out. Let it hiss until the hissing stops, the tighten it back up. The hissing is trapped air. Heating air is expensive and inefficient, and bleeding your radiators makes your heating system work much more efficiently. It gets hotter, faster, and you can turn your thermostat down as a result. Win, win, win!
  • Blinds are stylish and lovely. But they’re cold. Add curtains for the winter, insulating your windows with an extra layer for extra cosiness
  • The same goes for wood, tile and laminate floors. We have black wood laminate on the ground floor, huge brown ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen and slate tiles in the bathroom. Our house is very well insulated, with a relatively new heating system. But the un-carpeted areas still get bloody cold in winter. To be honest while wood and tile floors look great, they make the place echo, which isn’t exactly homely and welcoming. We’ve covered our hard floors with semi-antique and vintage Persian-style rugs. Momentarily bored a few weeks ago, I counted them. We have thirty six rugs in all, sixteen of which are on the ground floor. They warm the place up, give it life and colour and none of them cost more than £30 each on Ebay. It took me three years or so to collect them, and our feet appreciate my efforts every winter.

What about you… any good tips? We’d love to share them with our readers.

(Thanks to for the beautiful image)