Picture the scene.
You’ve had a long day at work. You’ve battled through the elements, put up with delays on the trains/roads or slipped on the ice walking home.
It’s dark and it’ll be dark when your alarm goes off and you head back into the cold for another long day.
You get home. It’s cold inside too!!
You keep your coat on, stick the fan oven on and stand, teeth chattering, waiting for a current of luke warm air to blast away the depressing chill.
Winter can be so cruel
But then, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Instead, imagine that you’ve battled through the elements, put up with delays, etc. you put your key in the door, push it open against the insulating door stop, and pause for a moment; feel the blood rush back into your icy fingertips and stinging cheeks.
Your hall is warm and inviting. You are a few steps from getting the kettle on and sinking into the sofa in your cosy living room with a steaming cuppa to let the trials and tribulations of the day melt away. It’s so good to be home.
It’s the small things, like managing your home heating, that can make all the difference – that can make winter something to be enjoyed instead of endured.
Staying warm in winter is essential to your mental well being as much as your physical health.
And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are six basic tips to make sure your heating is working for you – instead of you slaving away to pay for it.
1. Give your radiators space to do their work
You wouldn’t do your best work shoved in a corner, hidden from sight, surrounded by energy-sapping clutter.
Guess what? Neither can your radiators!
So, ramming your sofa up against it, covering it with drying washing or sticking it under a drafty window without proper curtains is not going to get the best out of it.
If you’re paying to have your heating on, don’t let the furniture be the only beneficiary!
Give your radiators some space to radiate into. Clear the way and let them reach out to you!
2. Timing is everything
Your central heating is your friend. Ask it to start warming your home at least half an hour before your get back and it won’t argue.
Tell it to turn off or down in the middle of the night when you’re wrapped in your duvet and it will happily comply, saving you money and preventing you waking so dehydrated your eyes and mouth are sealed shut.
Set it to come on a good half an hour or more before you get up and you’ll awake feeling fresh without a miserably shivering start to the day.
It’s really not rocket science, so why do so many of us fail to spend those few moments learning how to set our systems?
If you’ve forgotten, look for instructions online. A few minutes of your time for the perfectly-heated home?
3. Bleedin’ radiators
I just paid 75p for a radiator key.
I had lived with two of my radiators being truculently tepid and one being downright dead for the last few weeks of last winter and the first few of this one.
A quick turn of the key and they are all, well, radiant!
So don’t delay for a moment longer! If your radiators have developed heat-stopping air pockets, turn the key and let the good times roll!
4. Don't neglect your boiler
Your boiler is important for your heating and it has a lot of work to do.
Just like your car, or your relationship, it’ll go to seed if you take it for granted.
Treat it to an annual service if you want it to remain reliable.
It’s no use ignoring it all year, then swearing and sobbing if it decides to shut down when the thermometer drops sharply.
Getting it serviced yearly will not only avoid a catastrophic festive freeze, it’ll also make sure your system is running at optimal efficiency, looking after you and your finances.
Once in a while it is also worth getting your heating engineer to check your radiators at the same time as over the years, debris and sludge can build up in them which stops them working effectively.
And if you really want to protect yourself for years to come, look to the future and check out what renewable heating systems would suit your home.
Did you know that the government is predicting that air source heat pumps will become the primary way we all heat our homes in the not too distant future?
There are already thousands of homes in the UK that are benefiting from reliable, heating from a renewable heat pump source so is it time you looked at what this could mean for you?
If you'd like to know more about how they work, there's a dedicated website that explains all the basic FAQs about heat pumps available here.
5. Let the heat follow you around the house
There is no need to heat your entire home, all of the time.
Take a moment to think about which radiators were on in your home last night.
Was your bedroom furniture basking in its own radiator warmth for hours before you went to bed?
If you’re lucky enough to have spare rooms, are they warmed permanently on the off chance of a surprise visitor?
There is no need for you to spend money – and produce unnecessary carbon emissions – on keeping empty rooms warm. Make it a habit to turn radiators in different rooms off and on to suit your movements, or at least turn the thermostat down in those unused rooms. You’ll be surprised how much money you’ll save.
6. Change with the season
Keep reviewing and adapting your heating to the changing weather.
If you are feeling too cold, set your heating to come on a little earlier each day and turn off or down later instead of reaching for the thermostat.
It’s all too easy to turn the heat up – and forget to turn it down.
Every minute you spend thinking ahead will ensure you keep warm and cosy rather than ending up in shivering lunges for the dial later.