Help and advice Heating your home during the cold season

As temperatures drop, we want to support you by providing advice and guidance on heating your home efficiently.

A family warming their feet by a radiator

Preparing your home for the cold season

It’s a good idea to start preparing before winter, rather than waiting until it hits. Here are some things to consider before the temperatures drop further.

Check your heating is working

With energy bills set to remain high, it could be tempting to avoid turning your heating on until you really need it.

Please make sure you test your heating in autumn before the winter hits to make sure it works.

Bleed your radiators

Bleeding your radiators every so often keeps them working properly. This helps to make sure your radiators warm up quickly and give out the right amount of heat. If you don’t bleed your radiators air can build up in them. This causes them to take longer to warm up and means you use up unnecessary energy to get your house to the right temperature.

Read our online guide to bleeding a radiator (PDF)

Prevent your pipes from freezing

Frozen pipes can stop your central heating system and water supply from working. Check that your water pipes are insulated and keep your heating set above 7°C to prevent them from freezing in cold weather.

Find out how to deal with frozen pipes

Draught-proof your home

This can make a big difference in helping your home warm up and stay warm. There are some low-cost ways to keep draughts out and warm air in.

Visit the Energy Saving Trust’s guide to draught-proofing

Tackle condensation, damp and mould

Condensation, damp and mould can become a problem during the cold season. Luckily, it can often be avoided by taking some simple precautions.

Read our advice on dealing with condensation, damp and mould

Heating your home efficiently

Here are some top tips to help you keep your home warm and your bills down.

Get the most out of your heating system

Gas central heating

You only need to have your boiler on its highest setting in the depths of winter. Otherwise, it is needlessly heating water to a very high temperature and wasting energy.

Your boiler is usually fitted with two thermostats - one for heating and the other for hot water. The heating thermostat is usually identified with a radiator symbol and has numbers marked or an increasing scale from minimum to maximum. This sets the temperature of the water supplied from the combi boiler and pumped through the radiators. Adjusting the thermostat to reduce the flow temperature through your radiators can save energy.

Your boiler will work safely when a lower temperature is set but you may find that your house is too cold if the temperature is set too low, especially if the external temperature is also low. You may find you need to adjust the flow temperature up on the combi boiler when the temperature outside is low then back down again when it is warmer.

Using your heating timer will make sure you are only heating your home when you need to. For example, in the winter you may wish to heat your home before you wake up and come home from work. Leaving your heating on through the night or when you are not home will waste energy and increase your bills.

Electric storage heaters

Digital display (Quantum)

With these storage heaters, please ensure both isolator switches are always turned on.

Check that the heater is set to the correct mode for you, either home all day or out all day.

Home all day will allow the heater fans to run during your preset period throughout the day. Out all day will run the heater fans first thing in the morning, late afternoon and again through the evening, this is the best option if you are away from your home during the working day.

Make sure your heater is set to the correct temperature for your requirements, just press the dial and the temperature the heater is set to will be displayed on the screen. The heaters fan will run during the set times when the room temperature drops below the temperature that you have set on your storage heater.

The temperature control must be set to your required heat in the evenings, if the setting is turned down too low, and the room temperature is above what your heater has been set to, the heater may not charge up at night.

Experiment with these settings to find a balance between comfort and affordability.

No digital display (Dimplex)

These storage heaters are controlled by two dials labelled input and output.

The input dial controls the amount of heat you generate and store during off-peak hours. The higher you set it, the more you'll spend on electricity. In mild weather, you can keep your input setting low. When the temperature drops, you'll need to set it higher to generate enough heat to keep your home warm the next day. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust your input dial whenever the temperature rises or falls.

The output dial controls how quickly the heat is released into the room. Adjust this dial throughout the day to suit your routine. If you set the output too high, you might run out of heat before the end of the day. Turn this dial down at night or when you leave your home to reduce unnecessary heat loss.

Experiment with these settings to find a balance between comfort and affordability.

Avoid using plugin heaters to keep your home warm. It's cheaper to increase the input on your storage heaters.

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps work at lower temperatures compared to traditional boilers. This means they take longer to warm up and heat your home.

They are designed to deliver gentle, consistent heating over longer periods, so it usually works out cheaper to keep them on all day. Try setting your thermostat to a constant temperature between 18-21°C during the cold season. This can reduce the amount of electricity needed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature and save you money.

Your external unit needs good airflow to work efficiently. Keep the vents clear of leaves, snow and ice, and avoid blocking the fan with bins and other large items.

Turn down radiators and storage heaters in rooms you don’t need to keep warm

In rooms you don’t use as often, you may want to set the radiator thermostat or storage heater input to the minimum level. This can save energy and help to reduce your bills.

Make sure furniture isn’t directly in front of radiators or storage heaters

Moving any furniture which is right in front of radiators or storage heaters can help increase the flow of warm air and help rooms and your home heat up more quickly.

Cost of living support

If you're worried about your finances, mental health, or wellbeing, help is available. Visit our cost of living hub to find the support you need.

Got an issue with your heating?

Report it to us and we'll book an engineer to help.

A person changing their boiler settings