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Top tips on how to avoid a large energy bill this winter

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Five easy tips and five things to avoid to get the most from your heating this winter – and dodge a big energy bill

  • We reveal some simple steps to lowering your heating bills this winter 
  • Tips include tucking curtains in behind your radiators to stop heat escaping










Rising energy bills mean the cost of keeping warm is an issue for many households this winter.

But there are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce your energy bill without compromising on keeping cosy.

We take a look at 10 top tips for saving money on your heating, which include things to do and things to avoid doing. 

These include tucking curtains in behind your radiators to stop heat escaping, while not putting clothes on the radiators to dry, as this will block the heat from dispersing through the room.

We provide a list of little fixes that will help to keep your energy bills low this winter

We provide a list of little fixes that will help to keep your energy bills low this winter

John Lawless, of designer radiator company BestHeating, said: ‘Winter weather always sparks the debate around leaving your heating on low all-day versus a couple of hours a day. 

‘Sure, your boiler will have to work a little harder to heat up a cold home when you first switch it on but having it on constantly will use more energy than just switching it on when you need it.

‘The best thing to do to lower bills and keep warm is to insulate your home, prevent draughts, and set up better heating controls. Don’t have the heating on full whack in a room you don’t use, just heat the room you spend the most time in.

‘Our advice is to heat smarter. You can’t control the weather but you can control your heating and how your home loses that heat.’

NetVoucherCodes.co.uk agrees, saying: ‘Saving energy can help you be more energy-efficient and considerate of the environment, but it’s also a great way to save money.’

Here are the top ten tips…

The things you can do

1. Use thick curtains

Having thicker curtains helps reduce the amount of colder air coming in, while also helping to reduce the amount of hot air escaping.

The thicker the material, the more heat will be contained. Also tuck your curtains behind your radiator to stop even more heat escaping.

INSULATING PIPES 

Pipes can be insulated by covering them with a foam tube. 

This includes the pipes between a hot water cyclinder and a boiler. 

That will reduce the amount of heat lost and keep your water hot for longer. 

It is as simple as choosing the correct size from a DIY store and then slipping it around the pipes.

2. Cover up exposed pipes

Exposed pipes allow for heat to escape easily. Try covering them in an insulating material to maximise their efficiency.

3. Only heat the rooms you spend most time in

Heating rooms in your home that you don’t spend much time in will not only be a waste of energy, but also a waste of your money.

4. Cover up draughts

You can lose a lot of heat from gaps in your doors and window frames. Make sure you fill in these gaps with a draught proof material, such as draught-proof strips or even just a thick cloth for a quick solution.

5. Turn your thermostat down by one degree celsius

Experts have proven that reducing the temperature of your home by one degree celsius saves you up to £80 a year.

Drying clothes on your radiator will block the heat from dispersing through the room

Drying clothes on your radiator will block the heat from dispersing through the room

Things to avoid

1. Dry your clothes on the radiator

Drying clothes on your radiator will block the heat from dispersing through the room and will have to be left on much longer to have the same effect without a blockage.

2. Keep the heating on all day

Your home will take longer to heat up if you keep turning it on and off, but it will save you more money by putting your heating on a timer for a few hours a day. Try setting a timer on your boiler, so it only turns on for a few hours a day.

3. Allow your radiators to get dirty

If you notice any cold spots at the bottom of your radiators when the heating is on full this could mean you have a build-up of sludge in the system.

This stops the hot water circulating properly, stopping your radiators from getting hot enough when you need the heating the most. Give your radiators a good clean to make sure you aren’t wasting money on heating.

4. Turn your thermostat above 18 degrees Celsius

Research shows that the average thermostat setting in Britain is 20.8 degrees celsius. However, experts have stated that 18 degrees celsius is warm enough for a healthy and well dressed person to remain comfortable during winter. This will be controversial suggestiong for many, for whom 18 degrees might feel a bit chilly – and how you feel at 18 degree central heating will depend on how well your home is insulated.

5. Don’t place large furniture in front of your radiator

Blocking your radiator with furniture, such as sofa or a table, will stop the flow of warm air. This blockage will cause your boiler to work harder to heat your home, resulting in expensive heating bills.

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What you need to know about having a home swimming pool

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This summer, it’s not just sales of rosé wine and ice cream that have rocketed during the heatwave. Interest in swimming pools has also surged.

‘This sweltering summer has undoubtedly inspired people to install swimming pools,’ says Sallie Leslie-Golding of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA). 

‘There are now 270,000 in-ground pools in the UK, with about 65 per cent of them in the southern half of the country.’

There is something incredibly glamorous about a Hockney-blue pool. But how does the reality match up to the imagery?

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

‘It’s been wonderful to be able to take a swim at the end of a long day,’ says Felicity Cooper, 55, who in 2006 installed a 12m x 6m pool outside her country house in Potterne, near Devizes, Wiltshire. 

‘It has also been great for the children, Lily and Ryan, who learnt to swim here.’

Felicity stresses the importance of finding the right setting for a new pool. 

She ensured hers was west-facing to catch the evening sun; then she went to the trouble of digging out a mini-amphitheatre so that the displaced earth formed a windbreak around the pool itself.

‘The pool is the optimum distance from the house, being not so near that it detracts from the garden and not so far away that anyone in trouble would not be heard by those inside.

‘It is far from trees so few leaves blow into the water and, with the children in mind, it has a top quality safety cover. Felicity’s six-bedroom Jacobean stone house standing in 1.7 acres is for sale for £1.95 million.

Opinions vary as to whether an outdoor pool helps or hinders a house sale. Some think that the hassle of maintenance may be off-putting to buyers. However, the property buying agent, Jonathan Harington, disagrees.

‘I have had many clients come to me with a pool on their wishlist of luxuries,’ he says. ‘But I have never had anyone say they wouldn’t buy a house because of the pool. If they felt strongly they could easily fill it in anyway.’

Yet owning a swimming pool is an expensive hobby. An above-ground pool — like a giant paddling pool — costs from £1,500 to £15,000. These pools may not quite cut it in terms of glamour, but their lower water capacity means maintenance costs are more reasonable.

For those looking at a more substantial in-ground pool, one with a liner finish of PVC will cost about £75,000. A concrete pool, finished with mosaic tiles, marbled plaster or paint will be about £125,000.

Larger projects can easily cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

You may opt for an infinity pool — a pool designed with an edge that gives the illusion that the water is overflowing. 

Those who want to improve their fitness may have a counter current device installed; the equivalent of swimming on a treadmill.

Many pool owners are interested in sustainability and heating the pool with solar panels is popular, as are covers that help heat retention.

Maintaining an outdoor swimming pool is expensive. The cost of heating and chemicals has increased so buyers should budget for at least £8 to £10 a day, dependent on the weather, according to SPATA.

Anyone fancying a workout in their own home may be interested in Ivy Cottage, Grendon, Northamptonshire.

Outside, the four-bedroom cottage is a 10m x 5m pool neatly positioned in the north-west corner to catch the sun.

‘After swimming in the pool, you could go running, riding or cycling on the countless trails nearby,’ says Ian Denton, of Jackson Stops. ‘It’s a lifestyle amenity in your own garden.’ Ivy Cottage is for sale for £825,000.

On the market… splash out 

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Radisson launches new resort in Greece

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Radisson Hotel Group has launched its latest Greek resort in Skiathos. Skiathos, the westernmost of the Sporades islands, is known for its stunning coastline of more than 60 beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters, as well as sea caves, impressive rock formations, and hiking trails on the tree-covered hills along the north shore made famous as the location for the filming of Mamma Mia. The island’s Byzantine churches and monasteries, Venetian-style Bourtzi fortress, and Papadiamantis House with its typical architecture are important parts of the island’s rich history.

 

The resort’s 84 rooms and suites are decorated in a modern, minimalist style, and most of them offer views of the hotel pool or the sea. Private balconies or terraces are available in select rooms, and the resort’s biggest suites feature private whirlpools for ultimate privacy and relaxation. The resort is ideally suited for weddings with its own on-site orthodox chapel and versatile outdoor pool area that offers receptions with stunning views. The main all-day dining restaurant celebrates Greek and Mediterranean flavors on its lunch and dinner menus. The poolside bar offers breakfast treats and late-night snacks as well as a wide selection of drinks and an extensive wine list. For guests looking to keep up their fitness routine, a well-equipped gym is available.

 

“We are excited to offer our guests a fantastic resort experience on the beautiful island of Skiathos, as we continue to expand our Greek resort portfolio. Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos allows guests to switch off and relax surrounded by stunning natural beauty,” said Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group.

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Six houseboats for sale starting from £30,000

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Houseboats are often perceived as a cheaper alternative to owning a property on land.

But they come with their own challenges and plenty of hands-on maintenance. And of course, there is the regular job of emptying your toilet.

You’ll either have to continuously cruise or pay for a residential mooring if you live on the boat full-time.

We take a look inside six different type of houseboats that are currently for sale and ask which one would you buy - ranging from one costing just shy of £30,000 (pictured - scroll down for more details) to one that costs £2.5m

We take a look inside six different type of houseboats that are currently for sale and ask which one would you buy – ranging from one costing just shy of £30,000 (pictured – scroll down for more details) to one that costs £2.5m

Houseboats come in various shapes and sizes, including narrowboats – typically 6ft 10 in wide and up to 72 long – and Dutch barges, which are former commercial vessels that can be up to 120ft in length and 20ft wide.

They also come with various price tags and so can accommodate all types of different budgets.

Below, we take a look at six various types, ranging in price from just shy of £30,000 and a more eye-watering £2.5milion.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘Investing in a home on the water may not float everyone’s boat but for those who do take the plunge, it offers both affordability and freedom to up anchor and move to different areas.

‘With luxurious amenities and spacious living areas, houseboats are a popular choice particularly in and around London.’

1. One-bed houseboat, Glasgow, £29,500

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod

The houseboat is now a home with a brightly-coloured kitchen, and is currently for sale for £29,500 via Home West estate agents

The houseboat is now a home with a brightly-coloured kitchen, and is currently for sale for £29,500 via Home West estate agents

There is one bedroom on the houseboat that is separate from the main living area and it includes some storage space

There is one bedroom on the houseboat that is separate from the main living area and it includes some storage space

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod.

It has a brightly coloured kitchen with wood flooring, and one bedroom. It is being sold for £29,500 via Home West estate agents.

2. One-bed houseboat, Brentford, £100,000

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and includes a comfortable living area

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and includes a comfortable living area 

The houseboat is on the market with a price tag of £100,000 and the sale is being handled by Strike estate agents

The houseboat is on the market with a price tag of £100,000 and the sale is being handled by Strike estate agents

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels as well as a woodburner

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels as well as a woodburner

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and the £100,000 price tag includes both the purchase of the boat and the rental mooring.

The mooring is in a quiet location and is within walking distance to Brentford high street.

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels and hot water supplied by an immersion heater. It is being sold by Strike estate agents.

3. Three-bed houseboat, London, £408,000

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years

The interior has been converted to include a large living area that has an extensive library and a TV area

 The interior has been converted to include a large living area that has an extensive library and a TV area

The houseboat spreads across 1350 sq ft of space and features three attractive bedrooms - including one with an en suite

The houseboat spreads across 1350 sq ft of space and features three attractive bedrooms – including one with an en suite

The well-presented houseboat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is currently on the market via the Unique Property Company

The well-presented houseboat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is currently on the market via the Unique Property Company

There is a large separate bathroom with a roll top bath and wood on the walls and ceiling, as well as on the floor

There is a large separate bathroom with a roll top bath and wood on the walls and ceiling, as well as on the floor

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and has been converted into a three-bedroom home with central heating and a wood-burning stove.

It is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years. The mooring costs £12,870 a year.

The boat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is being sold via the Unique Property Company.

4. Two-bed houseboat, West Sussex, £175,000

This marina boat is currently moored in Chichester Habour, which is just four miles from Chichester city centre

This marina boat is currently moored in Chichester Habour, which is just four miles from Chichester city centre

The property has a modern living area and is currently on the market for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes estate agents

 The property has a modern living area and is currently on the market for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes estate agents

The smart property boasts two bedrooms with modern coloured lighting, including this one that also features a TV on the wall

The smart property boasts two bedrooms with modern coloured lighting, including this one that also features a TV on the wall

There is a kitchen with white cabinets, a modern worktop and wood effect flooring to complete the monochrome look

There is a kitchen with white cabinets, a modern worktop and wood effect flooring to complete the monochrome look

This marina boat is currently in Chichester Habour and is for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes.

It boasts two bedrooms and a bespoke awning allowing use of the deck come rain or shine.

5. Five-bed houseboat, London, £2.5m

This houseboat is currently moored at the prestigious St Katharine Docks, which is London's premier luxury yacht marina

This houseboat is currently moored at the prestigious St Katharine Docks, which is London’s premier luxury yacht marina

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform

The large living area includes a kitchen with a breakfast bar, as well as a separate dining area with plenty of space to entertain

The large living area includes a kitchen with a breakfast bar, as well as a separate dining area with plenty of space to entertain

One of the more unusual features of the houseboat is a sauna (pictured), which adds a luxurious touch to the property

One of the more unusual features of the houseboat is a sauna (pictured), which adds a luxurious touch to the property

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes.

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform.

6. Three-bed houseboat, Hampton, £500,000

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

The kitchen is well equipped and includes colour coordinated tiles on the walls and a white porcelain sink

The kitchen is well equipped and includes colour coordinated tiles on the walls and a white porcelain sink

This spacious bedroom includes plenty of storage on one wall as well as a good-sized window with a view of the River Thames

This spacious bedroom includes plenty of storage on one wall as well as a good-sized window with a view of the River Thames

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames.

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

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