Four of the big six energy companies have hiked up prices before the seasonal surge in demand, and a survey for Age UK found that 28 per cent of pensioners said they were worrying about heating their homes during the winter. Troy Belliere, Operations Director at central heating firm BSW Building Services, based near Haywards Heath, offers his Top Ten Tips for keeping homes warm and energy bills down:

  1. Mission control:

Strict thermostat control will slash costs. Reducing room temperatures by at least 1’C can reduce bills by up to 10%. Electronic heating programmers allow you to apply specific date/time settings. Minimise consumption by programming the heating off at night and when the home is empty.

  1. Combat draughts:

Tackle gaps around windows and doors and where pipes pass through exterior walls. Conversely, reduce the use of extractor fans. They use large amounts of electricity. Newer models have heat recovery units that reduce further loss.

  1. Scattered showers:

Showering instead of baths uses a THIRD less energy. Save baths for those days when you really need to relax and unwind.

  1. Efficient boiler:

In 2013, the Energy Saving Trust calculated a new condensing boiler could save consumers as much as £235 a year and there are government schemes such the Eco Affordable Warmth Obligation that provide financial assistance if you qualify. Contact a central heating specialist for a system review and to talk through the various options.

  1. TLC for your heating system:

Having your heating system regularly serviced will minimise the chance of catastrophic breakdowns, saving you time and money. How regularly will depend on the type of heating system you have installed – check with a heating specialist.

  1. Insulation:

One third of heat disappears through the roof. Insulation can cost as little as £250 and saves up to £100 per year. In addition, closing doors to unheated cooler areas of your home will conserve heat.

  1. Shop around:

Consumers who have consulted advice websites, such as, have reported savings of up to £250 on their annual energy bills. Use comparison sites to get the best deals.

  1. Arm your tanks:

Older hot water cylinders are poorly insulated. Speak with a central heating specialist to discuss newer more efficient models. Alternatively, British Standard cylinder jackets start from around £5, making them extremely cost effective, and can reduce heat loss by 70%.

  1. Good circulation:

Protect the flow of heat. Keep large furniture away from radiators. Cut heating in unused rooms and adjust radiators to minimum settings in rarely used spaces. Review the effectiveness of your radiators and the balancing of heat across your home.

  1. Rogue traders:

Make sure you entrust any improvement or repair works relating to your heating system to a qualified engineer. E.g. if they are to service a gas boiler they must be GasSafe registered; this is a legal requirement. Check a tradesperson’s qualifications and references, otherwise you run the risk of hiring a rogue trader. This is potentially dangerous when it comes to heating systems.