How to keep your house warm – 20 tips to insulate your home on a budget

Here's everything you need to know so that you never ask the question of how to keep your house warm, ever again
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  • As temperatures plummet across the UK, it’s only natural for you to question how to keep your house warm – especially whilst the cost of living prices are rising around us. Whether you’re trying to switch on your heating less or it’s your tumble dryer that’s costing you the most, we’ve come up with some tips to help cut the price of your bills.

    Small steps make a big difference when it comes to keeping your home insulated. Whether you’ve got gappy floorboards or draughty windows, here you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly solutions to fix these issues once and for all.

    Perhaps this issue requires a little more than a small difference, and you are prepared to completely refurbish your home to make it as energy-efficient as possible? Our guide on how to keep your house warm in winter includes tried and tested tricks, as well as pointers on how to save energy at home and recommendations of things to buy when it comes to staying snug. We’ve even asked a few experts for their advice, to keep you and your family cosy until spring – without breaking the bank!


    How to keep your house warm in winter?

    1. Get your boiler serviced

    boiler in a cupboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    First and foremost ensure your boiler is up for the demands of a cold winter. ‘If your boiler is ageing and has seen better days, there’s a strong chance it won’t be working as efficiently as it once was’ advises Jordan Chance, heating expert from PlumbNation.co.uk.

    ‘Defective boilers can increase your heating bill massively as they will need to work significantly harder to bring your home up to the desired temperature. We recommend that you get your boiler serviced every 12 months (preferably before the winter season), to ensure that your boiler is running efficiently and safely.’

    ‘It is also important to note that leaving your heating on low all day does not reduce your heating bills!’ Jordan warns. ‘Having the heating on only as and when you need it, is the best way to save energy.’

    2. Add extra layers

    pink bedrooms iwth layered throws on the bed and rugs on the floor

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Max Attenborough

    It seems too obvious but a great way to stay home on cold nights and avoid using too much energy is simply layering up. Keeping extra soft furnishings to hand can make all the difference in saving money on your heating. Think throw blankets, bedspreads, electric blankets and even weighted blankets. Here are a few recommendations from us if you’re looking to layer up.

    Amelia 200cm x 200cm Throw: £18 at Dunelm
    This super cosy throw from Dunelm is sizeable and affordable, as well as available in a range of colours to blend in with your interiors. It’s made of polyester so it’s warm and washable, plus it’s perfect for layering on a sofa or bed thanks to its textured design.

    Buy now from Dunelm

    Everlasting Comfort Luxury Faux Fur Throw Blanket: £34.95 at Amazon
    A faux fur blanket is a smart pick for anyone who is always cold, or for any house that’s forever chilly. It’s double-sided to conceal even more heat with thick threads, too. Choose from a range of colours and wrap yourself in this polyester throw for a cosy night on the sofa.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Dreamland Boutique Hotel 200tc Cotton Heated Mattress Protector: £75 at Very
    This heated mattress protector will ensure your bed is warm when it’s time to get some shuteye. As well as that, it’s 200-thread count and waterproof. It has a fast heat up function and six temperature settings, plus an auto-shut off timer for peace of mind. You can even wash it in your machine and dry it in your tumble dryer.

    Buy now from Very

    3. Update your thermostat

    Upright radiator

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    A thermostat controls your home’s temperature by communicating with your boiler. ‘Thermostats, particularly in older homes with older heating systems, can degrade over time. Such degradation can lead to delays in your boiler switching on, or your home being heated at much higher temperatures than required’ Warns Jordan. ‘Upgrading your thermostat could provide far greater accuracy in thermostat to boiler communication, preventing energy from being wasted, and saving you money.’

    ‘Using a thermostat with a timer offers a simple and speedy solution to controlling your heating effectively’ Jordan explains. Modern day thermostats can be controlled from your mobile, to ensure your home is nice and warm when you arrive home.

    The Nest Learning Thermostat, in particular, is a great option if you are looking to update your thermostat. This energy-saving device can turn itself down when you’re out of the house, it gets to know your temperature preference so that it never overheats your home plus it can be controlled via an app through your phone, so that you can switch your heating on or off when outside of your house. It can even control your hot water and switch off your boiler if you’re out of the house for more than a few days. The best part? It looks as seamless as it is easy to use, and it comes in a range of colours including a gorgeous copper so as not to stick out like a sore thumb.

    4. Rearrange the furniture

    How to keep your house warm 2

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    When trying to stay warm at home during winter be strategic about your furniture placement. Make sure the sofa or a bed isn’t blocking the radiator, as this can stop it heating up the whole room.

    Instead position well used pieces of furniture such as your desk, bed or sofa around any heat sources, without blocking them, to make the most of the warmth. Try to keep them away from any draughty spots, such as by a window or door.

    5. Keep curtains open until 3 pm

    Living room curtain ideas with blue sofa and striped blind

    Image caption: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    While keeping your curtains closed will keep the heat in at night, keep them open during the day.  Any sunlight will naturally heat up the room, which will all help when you finally draw the curtains as the chilly night sets in.

    The sun usually sets at around 4 pm in the height of winter, so to make the most of the natural warmth keep your curtains open until around 3 pm.

    6. Draught-proof your windows

    How-to-renovate-on-a-budget-sash-windows

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    Draught-proofing windows is a simple, worthwhile DIY task. All you need to do is apply self-adhesive foam tape to a window frame (or ask a local handyman to do the job). Draughts also occur in cracks between the window frames and the surrounding walls – it’s worth considering using sealant or putty in these. Here’s what to use for brilliant results:

    fowong Self Adhesive Foam Tape: £9.99 at Amazon
    This easy to apply tape should stop any draughts coming through your windows, concealing the heat inside your home a little more. This way, you shouldn’t have to turn on your heating as much (or as high) plus it’s easy to take off if you’re a renter, or when it comes to summertime and you welcome the draught with your arms wide open and your fan on high.

    Buy now from Amazon

    7. Install a chimney balloon

    How-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    It’s no good spending thousands on triple glazing and loft insulation if you then let cold air in through the chimney. The University of Liverpool calculated households lose around 4 per cent of total heat up the chimney, so a high-quality block that prevents draughts could save you over £200 a year. If you don’t use the chimney at all, you could consider having it capped by a professional.

    If you do use your chimney but want a solution while it’s not in use,  try a draught excluder instead. Take for instance the Chimney Sheep, the most-effective example on the market. Made from a thick layer of felted Herdwick wool, the Chimney Sheep’s 4.43 tog rating works by blocking 94 per cent of airflow – stopping warm air escaping up a chimney and cold air being pulled in via other routes.

    8. Fill the floorboards

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-floor-boards

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Paul Massey

    Stripped floorboards look fantastic, but the small gaps between the boards can really let cold air in. Try using a filler to prevent draughts sweeping in through the gaps.

    We highly recommend Draughtex Floorboard Gap Filler from Amazon. It’s a rubber-like material that is easily pushed between the boards to seal the gaps. It comes with a handy roller tool to make the job super easy, and it comes in various widths to cater for different floors. Here’s where to stock up:

    DraughtEx – 8mm Width – 40 Metre Roll: £30.50 at Amazon
    Gappy floorboards? A roll of this stuff can save you up to £40/year in each room, just from blocking the cold air out of your home, once and for all. It’s super flexible to use and you can do it yourself so no need to hire someone to help. An applicator comes included in the price, as does a total of 40 metres of this stuff. A total bargain that you definitely won’t regret.

    9. Layer floors with rugs

    grey living room with blue sofa and armchair

    Image credits: Future PLC/ Dan Duchars

    If you’re looking for a quick-fix solution and don’t have time to seal your boards, find a rug or two and pop those on the floor. It’s on-trend to layer up rugs, so you won’t have to find one huge design to cover a larger surface, and your home will feel instantly warmer and cosier.

    ‘If you have a carpeted home then it will naturally help to boost insulation; however, if you have hard flooring investing in some good quality materials, such as a plush rug, will help to prevent heat from being lost.’

    What are our favourite rugs for concealing the heat? Go for a thick rug, a wool rug or a sheepskin option. Here are our favourite suggestions for practicality and style, otherwise, you can always find a decent rug at Dunelm, Wayfair or La Redoute.

    La Redoute Diano Wool Knit Effect Rug: from £175 at La Redoute
    This affordable option from La Redoute is made from 100% wool so rest assured it’s super thick, super soft and most of all: super insulating. It comes in three sizes so that you can cover your cold floors in style.

    Buy now from La Redoute

    Double Pelt Sheepskin Rug: £70 at Dunelm
    A cheap price to pay for a sheepskin rug, this one even comes in 7 colours. It’s the perfect addition to your bedside, and it will ensure your feet are warm all year long. Crafted from 100% wool, sheepskin rugs are thermal by nature, and it goes without saying that they add an aesthetic element to your interiors.

    Buy now from Dunelm

    10. Fit a floating shelf above the radiators

    radiator with window sill above

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Parmiter

    Control the flow of heat around a room using a floating shelf. Fitting a floating shelf above the radiator will help deflect heat around the room and stop is rising up the ceiling where it will be wasted.

    You can pick up floating shelves from £7.50 at home shops such as B&Q and IKEA. The shelves come with the added bonus of extra storage or an opportunity to curate a picture shelf.

    11. Bleed radiators

    Ensure your radiators are working to full potential by bleeding them, to make sure no air is trap – hindering the heating performance. We explain in an easy step-by step guide how to bleed a radiator, making it easy for all to do.

    12. Insulate the doors

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-door

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Whether your door is old or new, it could still benefit from fitting draught-proofing strips between the door and the frame. This can work for both internal and external doors. For gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can buy a special ‘brush’ or hinged-flap draught excluder. Alternatively, you could go for a fun novelty draught excluder.

    Diall PVC Self-adhesive Draught Excluder: £7.98 at B&Q
    A smart buy to stop draughty doors from making your entire home cold, thanks to self-adhesvie this can be fit onto your door immediately. It’s a briliant buy for exterior doors!

    Buy now from B&Q

    Crushed Velour Draught Excluder: £10 at Dunelm
    Available in a range of colourways to blend in with your interiors, this velour draught excluder is as practical as it is stylish. Perch it by a door that really needs it and you’ll feel the benefits almost immediately. The best part? They’re filled with recycled polyester fibre to make them kind on the environment.

    Buy now from Dunelm

    13. Use heavyweight curtains

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-curtains

    Image credit: Rachael Smith

    Thermal-lined curtains can help you keep the cold out more effectively, especially if you have single-glazed windows. Otherwise, if thermal curtains aren’t within your budget, at the very least make sure your curtains are lined. The thicker the better, generally, and blackout curtains always do a great job of concealing heat. This curtain idea is genius and should really make a difference on cold mornings, when your heating might have been switched off overnight. You should notice that you wake up to a warmer home after putting up some thermal curtains.

    ‘Keeping your curtains closed, or investing in a thermal curtain lining can likewise help to prevent warm air from escaping – this trick alone can reduce heat loss by up to 25 per cent’ suggests Jordan.

    Textured Weave Recycled Polyester Pair Blackout Lined Eyelet Curtains: from £45 at John Lewis
    Available in a huge range of colours, these curtains aren’t just thermal but they’re also blackout and they are made from recycled polyester. You can use them year-round since they’re temperature regalating, to keep your room at the temperature you want it. They even come in several sizes to fit your window perfectly

    Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

    14. Insulate the loft

    How to build an extension

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    If you’ve not done this, you could be losing up to a quarter of the heat in your home through the roof. It’s a bit like going out in the snow without a woolly hat! Insulating the loft, attic or flat roof is a simple and effective way to reduce that heat loss and slash those pesky heating bills.

    Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years and it should pay for itself many times over.

    15. Draught-proof loft hatches

    While you’re there, try installing draught strips around the frame to your loft hatch. The door itself can also be insulated, usually with a polystyrene slab on the upper side.

    fowong Self Adhesive Foam Tape: £9.99 at Amazon
    This easy to apply tape can also be used to conceal your loft hatch frame, plus much more. This result will be almost instant and it’s a budget-friendly alternative to replacing your loft hatch.

    Buy now from Amazon

    16. Draught-exclude the letterbox

    front door

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Emma Lewis

    If you don’t already have a second flap or ‘brushes’ in your letterbox, you could fit either of these, which will help keep the warmth in.

    17. Cover the keyholes

    You can fit a purpose-made cover that drops a metal disc over the keyhole to prevent any wind whistling through – simple but effective. Here are the most budget-friendly buys on the market right now:

    18. Seal the skirting boards

    Blue home office with white skirting boards

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Mark Scott

    ‘It may seem like a small change, but using sealant to fill the gaps between the top and bottom of your skirting boards can really make a difference,’ says Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.

    19. Repoint any brickwork

    Any gaps in bricks on external walls can lead to unwanted and unnecessary wind coming into the home. You can top up mortar between the bricks to stop this happening (though it might be worth considering a professional to do this).

    20. Before laying a carpet, fit underlay

    white living room with neutral carpet

    Image credit: Carpetright Merlin Twist Carpet, Pearl River Heather, £27.99m2

    The carpet and underlay for flooring that you choose can also make a big difference on your home’s insulation. According to the experts at Carpetright, getting the right underlay for flooring can save you as much as 15 per cent off your energy bills.

    Jemma Dayman, Carpet Buyer for Carpetright tells us ‘Underlay is often overlooked, but it’s a really important element of the carpet-buying process. Not only does it insulate, it also provides cushioning, acts as a shock absorber protecting the actual floor itself, and as a sound barrier between floors.’


    All you need now is a hot chocolate, a hot water bottle and a good book. Stay warm people!

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