Winter isn't too far away, which means we're going to get some cold, bleak weather. Ignore what the Christmas cards say, showing people smiling with rosy cheeks - there's nothing romantic about trembling in your living room wearing eight jumpers and chattering your teeth down to nubs.
Of course, it doesn't have to be like that if you have central heating. All hail the magic of controlled temperatures!
Research shows that around 60% of people haven't the foggiest when it comes to their heating, even when most think they do.
However, a lot of people are using their thermostats incorrectly, so we've got some tips to help you use them more wisely and save some money while you're at it.
Choose the best temperature
This might seem like teaching nana how to suck eggs, but by turning your heating down by 1°C can save you around £55 per year. One good tip is to set your room thermostat to 18°C and then turn it up by one degree every day until you find the optimum warmth. For your thermostat to work well, they need a free flow of air to sense the temperature accurately, so make sure they're not covered by curtains or hidden away behind furniture.
Turn the thermostat up
According to the Energy Savings Trust, over half of us whack the thermostat up when it is cold outside. They shouldn't, because a thermostat is designed to maintain the desired temperature, whatever the weather. Greg Shreeve, energy expert at the Energy Saving Trust, says that, if you do turn up your thermostat, you'll "find it's a bit too hot" and you'll have wasted energy and cash in the process.
Leaving the heat on low
Some leave the heat on constantly on a low setting, when they should be using a programmer which means your house is warmer when you're in, rather than making rooms cosy when you're at work. It might seem obvious, but according to statistics, around a third of Britons do this.
If you're serious about saving money, you could install more than one thermostat, which means each room is controllable. So if you have a room you never go in, what's the point in heating it? Setting lower temps for bits of the house you hardly go in, or at certain times of the day, will save you cash in the long run.
Thermostat to max
Do you turn the thermostat to max when you get in from work, in a bid to heat the house up more quickly? Noticed how you can't get it back to a comfortable temperature in good time? 35% of Brits do this. "People think it's like pressing your foot down on the accelerator in a car, and the further you press your foot down, the faster you get to the speed you want," Shreeve explains. "But actually, a thermostat doesn't control the speed at which your house heats up - it just controls the final temperatures."
Keeping the water on all day
Are you one of the third of Brits who keeps the water on all-day so you don't run out of water? Well, you shouldn't. It'll be costing you loads of money and it is unnecessary. If you have a well insulated hot water tank, then if you've heated it in the morning, it should still be warm by lunchtime. Set a timer so that the water comes on half an hour before you get up or come home from work and that should do you.
Keeping the electric storage heaters on
62% of you don't know how storage heaters work. If you own one, know this - electric storage heaters are designed to work by using cheaper, off-peak electricity to rev up through the night and then release heat during the day. Leaving them on all the time will cost you money. The Energy Savings Trust have a guide, which says: "A standard electric storage heater has two controls, an Output setting and an Input setting. The Output setting will control how much heat the heater gives out (as long as there is stored heat available). The Input control determines how much electricity the heater will take from the grid during the coming night, and hence how much stored heat will be available the following day."
"So you need to set the Output dial according to how much heat you want now, and the Input dial according to how much heat you think you will need tomorrow. If a heater runs out of heat in the evening while you still need it, or if the weather gets colder, you may need to turn the Input dial up. If the weather gets warmer, or the heater never runs out of heat in the evening, you can probably save money without getting cold by turning the Input dial down. Turn the Output dial to zero before you go to bed or go out, so you’re not wasting energy overheating empty rooms. You can probably do this quite early, maybe an hour before you go to bed, as it will take a while for the heater and the room to cool down.
"And when summer comes and you don’t need the heaters any more, turn them off at the wall, not just by turning the dials to zero. Remember you will need to turn them on again the day before you need the heating to come back on."