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Top tips for a warm and healthy home for 2018

How to banish damp, keep cosy and cut your energy bills

Top tips for a warm and healthy home for 2018

With Christmas festivities finished and months of winter stretching ahead of us, January can seem the bleakest, coldest and dampest month. To help beat any winter blues, follow our tips to make your home feel warmer and cosier – and perhaps save money in the process.

To help you get started, we’ve rounded-up some of the best Which? tips on insulation, dealing with damp, home heating, clearing the air and saving money on gas and electricity.

Keep reading to keep cosy, and start 2018 as you mean to go on – by saving some money.

1. Insulate your home and stop draughts

If you live in a home without loft insulation you could be spending up to £225 more a year on heating. Plus, with heat escaping freely up into your loft, chances are you’ll feel the chill sooner once your heating goes off.

You should aim to install 270mm-thick insulation in your loft. It will cost around £300 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house, but it should pay for itself in less than two years through the savings you’ll make on your heating bills. See prices and savings for loft insulation for other home types.

If you already have loft insulation, these can help keep your home cosier:

Draught-proofing can also be a quick way to make your home warmer. Look for unwanted gaps and openings such as around windows, doors, chimneys, letter boxes, loft hatches and pipework. Follow our draught-proofing tips to seal them.

2. Get rid of damp

Whether it’s rising damp, penetrating damp or condensation, it’s important to get it sorted as soon as possible as living with mould can be bad for your health.

Different types of damp need to be treated in different ways. Find out which type of damp is affecting your home and the likely causes. Condensation is the most common, and is caused by moist air condensing on walls and windows. It’s often worse in winter or if your home is poorly ventilated.

A dehumidifier can help cure damp issues. Our expert testing has revealed the best dehumidifier for your home.

3. Heat your home effectively

Using your heating controls cleverly can help you avoid using more energy than necessary. Keep each room at the temperature you need it without overheating, and keep your heating bills down.

  • Choose the best heating controls for your boiler and home. You should have a programmable room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves in all rooms (besides the one with the thermostat).
  • Program your heating to work only when your home is occupied.
  • Zone your heating so it focuses on the rooms you use most, and reduce heating to any rarely-used rooms.
  • Turn down your thermostat by 1°C. This can save up to £90 a year in a typical home. Start at 18°C and increase the temperature a degree at a time until you’re comfortable.
  • Fit curtains and draught excluders, and close doors to keep warm air where you want it.
  • If your boiler need replacing, make sure you pick one that’s reliable – discover the most reliable boiler brands.
  • A smart thermostat lets you control your heating from your mobile phone or tablet, and some can learn your routine to optimise your heating schedule.

4. Cut your energy bills

If you’re concerned about the cost of keeping warm, switching energy supplier can help cut the costs of heating without reducing your use.

If you’re on a standard tariff with one of the Big Six energy firms – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – you could save more than £300 in a year by switching to a cheap tariff with one of the smaller energy suppliers.

Not sure how to get started? Read our simple steps to switch energy supplier, then compare gas and electricity prices with Which? Switch.

5. Clear the air

The air quality in your home can suffer thanks to measures meant to keep your home warm and cosy. Insulation and double-glazing help to keep heat in and reduce your energy bills. But they can also seal in pollutants created from cooking, using cleaning products and toiletries, and open fires.

A good quality air purifier will help tackle the problem. Our tests find out which models remove allergens and capture polluting particles best, and warn you which purifiers to avoid.

We’ve found one air purifier that was so poor at extracting pollen and smoke, its scores were too low to be recorded officially – discover our Don’t Buy air purifier.

Other steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home include:

  • Opening the windows
  • Vacuuming regularly to remove dust and pet hair
  • Choosing easy-to-clean hard floors rather than carpets
  • Using fewer scented candles (or opening a window afterwards)
  • Fitting or using your bathroom fan to remove the after effects of toiletries and cleaning products
  • Switching on cooker hoods or kitchen extractor fans during and after cooking.
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