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Keeping warm at home


Keeping warm at home is important for our physical health and wellbeing and to help with the general upkeep and maintenance of our homes.

If the heat in a room falls to less than 16°C, moisture that is normally trapped in the air is released, contributing to damp conditions. Damp can be damaging to walls and furniture, causing damp patches and peeling wallpaper. It can also contribute to the growth of mould and this can affect breathing. 

Anyone who is considered as vulnerable, including the elderly, very young children or people with health conditions, should keep the temperature of their home between 18 and 24°C to help keep warm and well. 

We are committed to helping all our residents stay warm. Information here will help you manage your heating bills and will signpost where additional support is available.

For detailed information about the energy efficiency rating of properties across the borough, and to learn more about the Council's plans to improve the housing stock, please refer to the following documents:

How can I reduce the amount of energy I use to keep my home warm?

There are many ways you can reduce the amount of energy you need to heat your home. Understanding your boiler and radiator settings, and finding the right temperature for your family, are the first steps.

Boiler settings

  • Use the timer on your boiler to switch the heating on and off so you only use the heat when you need it. Most timers have a boost button so if you feel a chill, you can boost the heating for a couple of hours without turning the boiler on permanently.
  • Check that the temperature on your water cylinder is set at 60°C and only heat your water when you need it rather than keeping it constantly heated.

Room thermostat

Keep your home between 18 and 24°C. Your room thermostat measures the temperature of the air flowing through its vents. Your heating should turn on if the temperature in the room drops and should turn off once the temperature on the thermostat is reached. 

Tip: Place your room thermostat away from drafts and from radiators to get a true reading of a room temperature.

Radiator settings

Thermostatic valves - most modern radiators have thermostatic valves fitted so the heat can be turned down. They work by shutting off the hot water running into the radiator when the air flow in the vents on the valves gets to the temperature you have set.

Try setting the valve to number 3 and see if this gives enough heating.

Tip: If you have your heating set to 24°C but you radiator valves set to 1, your boiler will be switching on to heat the room but your radiator may not heat up as much as you want as you have set it to turn off at a low heat. You need to test your heating to get it just right for your family. A rough temperature guide linked to the settings on thermostatic valves is below:

1 = 12°C
2 = 15°C
3 = 18°C
4 = 21°C
5 = 24°C

How do I switch energy supplier to save money on my bills?

Energy companies often offer good discounts for new customers which is why many people are switching their energy supplier each year. It is always a good idea to talk to your current energy supplier to see if they can improve on the rates or tariffs you have been offered.

Step 1

If you want to switch supplier you will need the following information (found on your energy bill):

  • the name of your current tariff
  • how much gas or electricity you have used in the last 12 months
  • your current payment method
  • your postcode

Step 2

Find the best deal for you. You can either use a price comparison service or contact each energy supplier directly.

Use one of the price comparison sites accredited by Ofgem's Confidence Code:

Contact numbers of price comparison services
Price comparison serviceContact number*shows every tariff in the country
energyhelpline.com0800 074 0745 849 7077
moneysupermarket.com0800 177 7087 / 0845 345 5708 468 0461 
simplyswitch.com0800 0111395
switchgasandelectric.com0333 370 0600
theenergyshop.com0125 922 0270
Unravelit0333 344 0031
uswitch.com0800 688 8557

[Note: some of these numbers are NOT free from either a landline or a mobile]

Step 3

Once you have agreed a new contract your energy supplier could switch from between three and 14 days, it depends on the cooling off period that the company offers. You should remember to cancel any payment method with your previous energy company. 

If you have any difficulties during the process you should speak with the energy company in the first instance. If you require further advice you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

How do I better understand my heating bills and how much I am spending?

Smart meters

Smart meters are the new gas and electricity meters. They are installed with no up front cost along with an in-home display (if required) by energy companies. You do not need to have an internet connection at home as the smart meter works via radio waves. It transmits data about your energy use to your energy company. You are in control of the data and how your energy company uses it. The smart meter does not hold personal data or payment data.

Benefits of smart meters:

  • your energy bill will always be accurate and not based on estimated usage
  • if you have an in-home display, you can see exactly how much gas, electricity or both you are using so you can budget on a daily basis
  • if you are on a prepayment plan the in-home display will show how much credit you have left plus your emergency credit

Energy bill reading advice

Understanding your fuel bills is important to help you switch supplier and to be able to manage your bills effectively:

  • check for the name of the tariff you are on as this affects the price you pay
  • look at the total number of units you have used , check to see if your previous bills have been calculated with estimated use and are you due any refunds?
  • look at the cost per unit of energy; this is important if you are looking to switch as some companies charge different amounts for energy use
  • check how you pay your bill as it can be cheaper to pay by direct debit or online


There are a number of different tariff options that suppliers can offer. The main types include:

  • Standard - variable single unit rate with a standing charge
    Open-ended tariffs where the price can go up as well as down; they can be more expensive than fixed rate tariffs but there are no exit or cancellation fees
  • Time of use - e.g. Economy 7
    Customers receive 7 hours of electricity at an off peak, lower rate, usually between the hours of 10pm and 8:30am; this may be better for households using electric storage heaters or heating water using an immersion heater but it can be expensive if customers are not using most of their electric during off peak hours
  • Prepayment
    Prepayment cards are used with prepayment meters; there can be less choice of tariff with prepayment and it is usually more expensive than paying by direct debit but can make it is easier to budget as energy is paid for up front
  • Fixed term - e.g. a year
    Fixed term tariffs usually last for one year with the price remaining the same for the whole period - this usually means there are exit fees if a customer wishes to leave earlier; some fixed term tariffs can be more expensive than standard variable tariffs if energy costs go down during the fixed term period
  • Green supply
    This tariff means that some or all of the energy you buy is matched with purchases of renewable energy (solar/wind) that your supplier makes on your behalf; these tariffs help the environment but can be more expensive than fixed tariffs

How can I reduce heat loss at home?

There are many ways you can reduce heat loss at home to help you to stay warm and keep your heating and energy bills down.

  • Insulation - 60% of heat that is lost from a home is through the walls and the roof. There are many types of insulation that can be added from loft insulation, cavity wall or solid wall insulation. Grants are available to some households.
  • Curtains over windows - using heavy or lined curtains helps keep heat in the room, you should draw your curtains at dusk when the temperature outside starts to drop.    
  • Draft excluders - place excluders on the bottom of doors to stop draughts.

Where can I find further information on keeping my home warm?

Additional energy advice

The GOV.UK: Find ways to save energy in your home (opens new window) page gives access to an interactive tool that suggests recommended improvements to make your home more energy efficient.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme

Find out more about this scheme, and check if you might be able to get help for energy-saving improvements to your home, on the GOV.UK: Help from your energy supplier: the Energy Company Obligation (opens new window) page.

You can find details of energy suppliers that are taking part in the scheme on the Ofgem: ECO supplier contact details (opens new window) page.

Can I get help to pay my heating bills?

If you are in arrears with your heating bills you should seek advice as soon as possible from DIAL who can help you to manage your money. You can call them on 01493 856900.

Other ways to get help with heating bills:

  • The Warm Home Discount (opens new window) is a one-off discount on your winter electricity bill. You may be eligible if you claim the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income.
  • The Winter Fuel Payment (opens new window) is a payment to help you pay your heating bills. If you get the State Pension or another social security benefit, then you may be eligible.
  • You could receive a Cold Weather Payment (opens new window) if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days. You may be eligible if you claim certain means-tested benefits.

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