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How to Save on Winter Bills: 16 Tips

29 May 2024

Due in part to rising gas and electricity prices, utility bills can be a major expense in winter. It is therefore good practice to take some small or big steps to reduce costs in the long run. In this article, we provide 16 tips for saving on winter bills.

Why it is important to take action to save on winter bills

Household utilities are an important item in the economic budget of every family unit, and in winter this incidence is even greater. In fact, in this season, electricity and gas bills tend to be higher due to several factors: the days are darker, the temperature is colder, more time is spent inside the house.

You can act in many different ways, from small measures to major structural changes, to reduce the way winter bills impact on your savings. Sometimes, you may be able to save several tens of euros that, in the long run, can make a difference. Also not to be overlooked is the benefit to the environment.

It is therefore important to move towards efficient energy use: this is the key word that can characterise all those daily behaviours that allow you to save money in economic terms and reduce your environmental impact in terms of eco-sustainability. And this can and must be done, of course, without neglecting the well-being and comfort of those living inside the home.

A very important issue to remember regarding the reduction of consumption and waste concerns the presence of high-performance windows and doors from the point of view of thermic insulation. METRA Building aluminium windows and doors ensure optimal performance and make it possible to exploit not only the extraordinary properties of aluminium, but also the thermal break technology that ensures the total absence of loss of heat. Later in the article we talk more specifically about the importance of the right windows and doors to save on winter energy bills.

How to save on fuel in winter: small everyday tricks

There are many small behaviours that we can adopt right from the start and which, added together over the long term, can help to significantly reduce costs on winter bills.

Dimensioning one’s current energy consumption

No change can take place effectively if we do not know where to start. It is therefore important to start by getting a general idea of how much energy – in terms of gas and electricity – you currently use. To do this, one can turn to a professional or use online or app-based measuring tools.

Equally important is to do a general survey of the house to assess its current efficient energy use. Are there old pipes that can cause waste? Rooms that are hardly used and therefore do not need to be heated every day? And so on. All this becomes the optimal starting point for understanding how and what to cut in terms of consumption.

Setting the right temperature in the home

The temperature set on the thermostat can really have a big impact on the cost of winter bills. According to all studies and statistics, a temperature of 19-20°C is optimal for living in complete comfort while avoiding waste of energy and money.

A temperature increase of even one degree could increase the winter bill by up to 7-10%. Moreover, it would even prove counterproductive as it would cause an excessive temperature swing with the outside temperature, thus also causing possible health problems.

Managing the use of heating systems rationally

In order to save on winter bills, it is important to take small steps to better manage the heating system.

For example:

  • adjust the temperature according to different needs and time slots of the day. At night and when away from home, it is a good practice to make sure to turn off the boiler and lower the temperature on the thermostat to avoid overheating empty rooms.
  • when we are at home, close the radiator valves in the rooms we do not use, and open only those in the areas that are lived in and used. Differentiating the temperature in different rooms is a very useful way to increase the efficient energy use of the house in winter.
  • Remember that some rooms should not be overheated, because the human presence or the use of lighting, fires and appliances provide a source of heat that may be sufficient in some cases. For example, you might consider closing the radiator in the kitchen when you are about to turn on the oven and cook.

Avoiding loss of heat

Often heat inside the house is dispersed to the outside or ‘stolen’ by disturbing elements.

When heat is lost, there is damage not only in terms of living comfort, but also from an environmental point of view and, above all, increased costs on the bill in winter. In fact, the heating system will have to consume much more energy to provide the rooms with the temperature for which it has been set.

Here are a few tips on the subject:

  • close windows in rooms where radiators are on and running. Leaving windows open with hot radiators is a major source of energy waste. If we work or live in one or a few rooms during different time slots, we can also close the door to prevent heat from those rooms from escaping to the rest of the house, especially in larger houses.
  • ventilate the house by opening the windows only for about ten minutes, perhaps at two different times of the day, and only when the radiators are off. Air exchange is essential to avoid the formation of mould, condensation and bad odours, as well as to optimally regulate air humidity. But leaving windows open for a long time and with radiators on, as we have seen, can lead to a lot of waste.
  • screening windows with appropriate shading systems when it gets dark and at night. Shutting shutters and rollers, as well as blinds in the interior of the house, helps prevent heat from escaping to the outside. In addition to providing additional thermic insulation compared to windows, METRA Building’s aluminium shading systems are also extremely resistant to winter weather. They are therefore the ideal solution for a warm, comfortable and safe home.
  • equip yourself with reflective panels to reduce the loss of heat and the resulting consumption on your winter bill. Reflective panels are inserted into the space between the radiator and the wall behind it, allowing the heat to ‘flow back’ into the room and not escape to the outside. You can buy such panels and install them very easily yourself, but as a home remedy, a simple sheet of aluminium can already make a small difference.
  • avoid the presence of obstacles around radiators. It happens that furniture or objects are placed right in front of the radiators, but this can have a large dimension on the radiators’ ability to diffuse heat into the room. It is therefore a good idea to move objects so that the radiator is freer to do its job. At the same time, it can happen to place the tumble dryer in front of the radiator or even to put laundry and clothes to dry directly on it: it happens to many, for example, to hang the towel on the bathroom towel warmer. As convenient and comfortable as this may be, however, this action contributes to greater heat loss and, therefore, more energy wastage.

Carry out periodic checks on the boiler

Malfunctioning of devices is one of the biggest causes of energy consumption. Therefore, in order to understand how to save money on winter bills, it is essential to subject your heating system to regular checks and maintenance to ensure that everything is working properly. If this is not the case, it would mean that the system is not working at full capacity, thus leading to wasted energy and costs.

In winter, above all, the boiler is the fundamental appliance for living comfortably in one’s home; it should therefore be controlled by a specialised technician. If this practice is not respected, among other things, you may incur fines. The periodic inspection of one’s boiler is carried out according to the schedule dictated by the booklet and the installer but, as a general guideline, it is best to carry it out annually, preferably in summer or before the cold season starts.

This routine maintenance must be accompanied by an obligatory flue gas check. This check is aimed at assessing and approving the energy efficiency of the boiler and must be carried out every one, two or four years – depending on the type of system being used.

In the meantime, as far as maintenance is concerned, one can independently purge the radiators before each winter. This operation eliminates the air bubbles that form inside them, limiting their performance and again contributing to increased waste of energy and money.

Making good use of appliances

An excellent practice that saves energy in the home, not only in winter, concerns the good use of all electrical appliances, including home appliances. It is important to switch them off and unplug them when they are not in use, because even standby mode consumes energy and would, in this case, be a waste of energy.

It is also important to use certain household appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, only when they are fully loaded, as well as to rely on the dryer only when necessary.

Just like household appliances, the intelligent use of lighting can also help to lower costs in the energy bill; it is therefore a good idea to always turn off the lights in rooms that are not in use.

Comparing the tariffs of different energy distributors

If you realise that all these measures fail to produce a substantial reduction in your winter bill, a good idea may be to turn to a cheaper supplier. This operation can take some time if done carefully, because it is important to compare the tariffs proposed by the different companies. But once a suitable supplier is found, this investment of time will pay off in terms of energy and financial savings in the long run.

To reduce research time, there are several tools online that allow you to compare prices and services easily and without obligation. Some parameters to consider are annual consumption, time slot with variable prices, power used, fixed or variable price. Once you have found your ideal distributor, consumer protection laws allow you to change your energy supplier easily, even when you have already signed a contract with the previous one.

How to save on utility bills in winter: investments that make a difference

The changes to daily behaviour suggested in the previous paragraph can, if applied consistently and in the long term, produce a noticeable change on winter bills, saving money month after month.

In spite of the various measures described in the previous paragraph, it may be necessary to make more far-reaching changes that will enable significant savings from the next bill and for good. In this case, we are talking about structural changes; they are good to consider if you are planning to renovate your home, or if you are building a new one and want to have an energy-efficient home right away. In addition to these structural changes, there are also less invasive but still fundamental changes to reduce costs and save on winter bills.

Carrying out thermal insulation of the house

Equipping your home with a thermal coat is certainly not an immediate solution, but it is easier to implement than you might think and, above all, extremely effective. In fact, the presence of a coat significantly reduces the loss of heat – in winter, but also of fresh air in summer – to the outside through the walls of the house. The heat emitted by the radiators stays inside the rooms, and it will therefore not be necessary to overheat or increase temperatures to live in a comfortable environment. This, of course, will have a discrete impact not only on utility bills, but also on the home’s efficient energy use and the environment.

With a view to greater energy efficiency, thermal insulation of the house can be a relatively inexpensive intervention because it is supported by various government incentives. The initial investment is paid back in bill savings in the long run.

Replacing windows and doors

If we are talking about an initial investment that is counterbalanced by considerable financial savings in the long term, another fundamental intervention to save on winter bills is certainly the right installation of high-performance windows and doors. Unfortunately, many homes in Italy still have dated windows and doors made of cold-cut aluminium, poor PVC or wood that has not been properly maintained.

Replacing windows and doors with the latest generation then means making a huge change in terms of efficient energy use. And if we talk about the latest generation of windows and doors, we cannot fail to mention METRA Building aluminium windows and doors. Although aluminium in itself is a material that conducts heat, the presence of thermal break – i.e. the insertion of insulating material between the internal and external profile – guarantees truly exceptional thermal insulation. This means that the heat produced by the radiators in the house in winter is not dispersed outwards through the windows; less is spent on heating the house, and this is where the energy savings come from.

The exceptional thing is that aluminium windows and doors provide many other advantages, thanks to the special properties of this material. For example, it is the most resistant to weathering and burglary, it can be customised in an infinite range of colours and finishes, it is the most durable, and it is very easy to clean and maintain. Aluminium is also environmentally friendly, as it is a 100% recyclable material. In short: if you decide to replace windows and doors with a view to greater energy saving, METRA Building aluminium windows and doors are a certainty from this and many other points of view.

You can read more about the advantages of aluminium windows and doors here.

When buying new windows and doors, it must finally be remembered that installation is just as important in terms of efficient energy use. Any quality of the window and door, in fact, is nullified by incorrect installation. It soon causes the formation of mould and condensation, as well as the presence of draughts that increase the consumption of winter bills. Relying on specialised operators such as METRA Building is therefore fundamental to guarantee impeccable installation.

Installing a renewable energy system

Another major intervention that pays off enormously in the long run is the installation of an alternative energy system. This is the case, for example, with geothermal energy systems or, more commonly, photovoltaic systems with solar panels.

These systems use renewable, and therefore completely free, energy to produce electricity and to heat water and rooms. Thus, considerable savings can be made on gas and electricity consumption and, therefore, on winter bills. In this case, too, interventions of this type should be considered as real investments for the future, supported in any case by important state incentives in the area of energy efficiency.

Consider alternative heating systems

Along the same lines, it may be a good idea to install an air-water heat pump, or alternative boilers fuelled by biomass. Alternatively, a simpler condensing boiler is still much more energy efficient than traditional boilers.

In everyday winter life, anyone who uses an electric heater to quickly heat a room, such as a bathroom, should know that this device consumes the most energy for the same amount of consumption. In these cases, if you do not want to give up this type of comfort, you can opt for the latest generation of energy-efficient heaters. One example is those that make use of infrared technology for heat transmission via irradiation / radiation.

Equipping with home automation

If one is renovating or building a case, it is now essential to consider installing a home automation system. Indeed, it has numerous advantages that can be exploded in this article.

In the context of saving on winter bills, it can be said that home automation helps enormously in managing heating intelligently and reducing loss of heat. For example, one might be reluctant to turn off the heaters before leaving the house, for fear of having to return to a house that is too cold in the evening. With home automation, this problem would not exist: with a chrono-thermostat, one could simply start the heating just before returning home, using one’s smartphone as a remote control. One could do the same thing, for example, to close roller shutters in the evening to prevent loss of heat.

In other words, the home automation system is a brilliant solution not only to significantly increase well-being and living comfort, but also to achieve more efficient energy use in the home. All METRA Building products are prepared to be connected to the home’s home automation system.

Equipping yourself with a smart thermostat

If it is not possible to install an entire home automation system, a smart thermostat alone can often make the difference in reducing energy consumption and costs on winter bills. This type of thermostat, in fact, allows you to manage your energy consumption intelligently, as it adjusts the internal temperature of your home automatically. It does this on the basis of several factors: the outside temperature, weather conditions, time of day, travel and the needs of the tenants.

Installing a smart thermostat can save up to more than 30 per cent in utility bills. To achieve this, however, it is important to place it in a location away from drafts or direct sunlight. These could alter its ability to detect the correct temperature, thus affecting its performance.

Relying on an autonomous heating system and thermostatic valves

Taking advantage of an autonomous heating system is unfortunately not always possible, as central heating is often provided within apartment blocks. But when it is possible to do so, it is a great way to better manage one’s own consumption.

In both cases, whether the heating is autonomous or centralised, it is advisable – and obligatory – to install thermostatic valves on one’s radiators. These make it possible to regulate the flow of hot water inside them appropriately, thus preventing them from reaching excessively high temperatures with consequent waste in terms of consumption and money. Savings of up to 20% can be achieved by using the valves intelligently.

Installing a mechanical ventilation system

One of the main causes of loss of heat is the opening of windows to ventilate different rooms in the house. On the other hand, this is a necessary operation to maintain a comfortable condition inside one’s home.

In order to maintain the micro-climate and optimum humidity level in the home at all times without losing heat from open windows in winter, an excellent solution for the home of the future is to install a controlled mechanical ventilation (VMC) system. This type of system allows perfect recirculation of internal air, guaranteeing not only efficient energy use and cost savings on bills, but also an important pitch towards environmental sustainability.

Opting for better performing appliances and light bulbs

Finally, a change to be made concerns appliances and light bulbs to reduce energy consumption. This is an important solution because it allows discrete cost reductions on the bill not only in winter, but all year round.

Over time and whenever possible, a good idea is to replace older appliances with those of a higher energy class, ideally A+++. These appliances have a higher cost but, in addition to being able to benefit from specific eco-bonuses, they allow you to greatly reduce your energy costs in the long run. In order to spread this investment over time, one can start by increasing the energy class of the appliances one uses most – such as the refrigerator, which is on 24 hours a day – and then move on to less impactful ones.

The same can be applied to the lighting system. LED and fluorescent bulbs are more expensive than conventional bulbs, but they consume much less and therefore save money in the long term. In combination with, or as an alternative to, this solution, one can consider reducing the number of lighting points in the home in order to save on lighting costs. In this case, aluminum frames guarantee a brighter home. As a very resistant material, aluminium allows the window frame to have very thin profiles, even just a few millimetres. This increases the glass surface area of the window, which ensures more natural lighting in the room.