10 ways to heat your home for less
Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

With energy and heating costs often a financial strain for households, everyone should be looking for the most energy-efficient and cost-effective ways to heat their homes. So here we take a look at 10 ways to heat your home for less.

Making changes to your home heating doesn't have to be an onerous task. In fact, it's surprisingly easy to conserve energy, save yourself some money and help to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time - all in a day's work!

You might have your own tips and tricks to help make your home more energy efficient, but so do we! And with approximately 60% of the energy used in Irish homes going towards heating it, these tips could go a long way.

From short-term solutions to those requiring a long-term investment, take a look at our list and see the changes you can make today for some financial savings tomorrow.

1. Draught-proof your home

As much as you might not like to admit it, your mammy is (always) right: “Close those doors, you’re letting an awful draught in!”

Draught-proofing your house is a quick and easy win when looking to improve your home's energy efficiency. By checking keyholes, doors, windows and open fireplaces for incoming draughts of cold air, you can effectively tackle heat loss and keep the heat where you need it.

  • If you have old windows, fix the seals with a draught excluder to help cover the gaps.
  • Door draught excluders (like those sausage shaped bean bags) are also great for putting under doors.
  • Purchase a chimney balloon for your fireplace if it's not being used.
  • Close curtains in the evening to help keep the heat from escaping through the windows. However, curtains should generally be kept open in the morning and during the day time to maximise natural daylight and heat.
  • Window glazing sheets are good for helping stop heat escape through windows - particularly good if you have an old conservatory. 

If you can’t identify the source of a draught yourself, you can always call the experts in. For around €300 or so a surveyor, engineer or energy auditor can do an air tightening test using a smoke gun to check where air is entering a house. 

2. Install radiator reflectors

Radiator reflectors are both a clever and inexpensive way of stopping heat being lost from your radiators. Reflectors function by, you guessed it, reflecting the radiator’s heat back into the living space instead of it being lost to the wall or window behind.

Reflectors are rolls of foil or thermal wrap and can be bought for as little as €6 from hardware stores around the country and reduce heat loss by up to 35%. What’s more, radiator reflectors are very easy to install and can be cut to measure.

As well as radiator reflectors, another simple way to prevent heat loss and increase energy efficiency is by ensuring your hot water tank is properly insulated. A tank with a proper lagging jacket can reduce heat loss by over 75%. As well as this, make sure any exposed pipes have fitted insulation too! It can be surprising the noticeable difference it makes to both your energy consumption and your pocket.

3. Bleed your radiators

Trapped air in radiators stops them from working efficiently. If there are cold spots on your radiators, particularly at the top, it's a sign they need bleeding. This releases the air and ensures your heating system is working to its full potential.

4. Optimise your central heating system

With the advent of smart technology, controlling your home’s heating has never been easier, what with the availability of devices like the Nest, Climote, Hive and Netatmo.

With these devices you can programme your central heating and your water to come on at specific times throughout the day to fit your routine, ensuring you’re not wasting energy needlessly throughout the day. For example, if you’re stuck in traffic after work and will be an hour late getting home, you can easily set your heating to come on later for you.    

Everything can be done via an app on your phone, meaning you can control your heating from anywhere there's an internet connection really.

Some of the devices are also clever enough to pick up on your energy consumption habits and create a personalised schedule for you, helping you save even more money.

5. Upgrade electric storage heaters

For those not in the know, you could probably guess that storage heaters function by storing heat. Importantly, the heat is generated and stored at night and then gradually released during the day, so electricity is used while on cheaper night-time rates.

But for many, the heaters currently in use are seriously outdated and are not nearly as energy-efficient as the newer models currently available are. And with energy prices on the rise, now is as good a time as ever to make the change.

By upgrading to a less costly heater with a better energy rating you could save yourself some serious money on your home heating. 

6. Mind where you put the furniture 

It's important that any sources of heat, whether it be the radiator, the fireplace, or storage heaters aren't blocked by furniture.

Large TVs, couches, bookshelves, or Christmas trees (if it's that time of the year) should never be placed right in front of a heat source if possible.

Getting on board the services of an interior designer could be a good way to reimagine your living space in a way that doesn't block the heat. 

7. Install a Heat Pump system

There are a range of heat pumps systems available which draw heat from different sources such as air, water or the ground. Air source heat pumps are the most common type and they work by converting energy from the air outside your home into heat. They use a compressor to draw heat from the air outside and then use it to heat your home and your water. These heat pumps can even extract heat from temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

Heat pumps are an extremely efficient alternative to fossil fuel heating systems and are a great way for consumers to save on their energy bills as well as reduce their carbon footprint.

In general, the better insulated the property, the more economical a pump is to run, and they're not recommended for poorly insulated homes. They also work best in households that like a constant, comfortable room temperature - heat pumps aren't good at heating up a home very quickly to a very high temperature in a short space of time. In general, they only work in homes with a BER of at least B3 or better. 

For anyone considering this option, an air source heat pump installation costs between €8,500 and €14,500 but you'll be glad to hear that a Heat Pump grant is available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is one of the largest bursaries available.  

Check out the SEAI’s guide on heat pump systems here.

8. Upgrade your gas boiler

If your boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it with a new, more efficient model. Depending on your old boiler type and house, you could save up to €400 with a new A-rated condensing boiler – which uses less energy to produce the same amount of heat!

9. Install solar panels

You can install either solar thermal panels or solar PV (photovoltaic).

Solar thermal panels heat air and water, while solar PV panels generate their own renewable electricity in the form of DC current, which can then be used to power electrical appliances in your home.

Solar thermal heating systems can meet 50-60% of your overall hot water requirement over the year, while a solar PV system can save you between €200-€300 per year on your domestic electricity bill.

Although solar panels are expensive to install, there are grants available from the SEAI to support you. As well as this you may be able to make money off the energy your solar panels produce through the micro-generation scheme.  

To discover if you should install solar panels on your home you will need a pre-works survey carried out. From this, you will learn which panels are right for you and how many should be installed. 

Check out our guide on solar panels to find out more about this renewable energy source.

10. Switch energy supplier

Finally, if you're looking for ways to heat your home for less, then switching supplier is the easiest way to do it.

All the suppliers offer great discounts to those who switch, meaning you could save hundreds on your heating bills in just minutes. Just head to our energy comparison calculator and start your switch today

Consider all of your savings options

With gas and electricity prices continuing to skyrocket, consumers are looking at new ways to lower their energy bills and other household expenses.

In light of this, we compiled a list of energy and money-saving articles that could help you lower your costs. 

Let’s hear from you

Do you have any tips on how to lower your heating costs? If so, send a message today on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.