THE weather outside is frightful, and so are household energy bills this winter as they've risen by 70% in just the past few months.
And the way you're using your radiator could be adding to your outgoings – pushing up your energy bill by hundreds of pounds.
Temperatures are continuing to drop this week and there's even the threat of snow on the way.
So most Brits will automatically reach for the thermostat.
But also front of mind for millions of people is the soaring cost of living which has pushed energy bills to all time highs.
Not to mention keeping your home warm for Christmas and the mega spends that usually come around that time.
There are a number of ways to drive down the costs though – and it all starts with your radiator.
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Making dodgy adaptations
One common myth is that painting your radiator a dark colour like black will make it more efficient.
Many households believe the design quirk is going to help reduce energy bills, but it's actually not the case.
The myth is built on the idea that black absorbs heat quicker so will transfer heat out at a better rate than a white radiators.
Instead of splashing out on a colour scheme that might not go with the rest of your home for the sake of saving a few pennies ineffectively, a more cost-effective solution is insulation.
If the wall the radiator is mounted on is insulated then heat won't leak out of your home, so you won't be wasting any money and your heating doesn't have to work as hard.
Another way to modify the radiator is to put reflective panels behind.
This works in a similar – but faster – way with the heat from the radiator reflected back into the room, preventing warmth escaping through external walls, which can happen even if they're insulated.
Not using it at all
Some people believe it's cheaper to heat a house with an electric heater instead of a radiator – but that's false.
Using your home's central heating can be cheaper than running an electric heater.
According to BestHeating, for every unit of heat put out by an electric heater it will cost around three times as much as a unit of heat from one of your radiators.
The appliances could add around £70 a month to your electric bills if you were to use one every evening while you're watching telly.
If you're only looking to heat just one room in the house then the electric heater does work out cheaper, especially if you've left radiators on in unoccupied rooms, so it's worth shutting them off when not in use too.
Turning it up too high
Many people go into autopilot mode when the weather gets colder, and instantly turn up the heating to battle the winter temperatures.
Most households will regularly set their thermostat above 22°C, but that's higher than you need.
BestHeating explains that the thermostat is there to maintain the internal temperature, whatever the weather, you just need it at a comfortable temperature, not an opposite extreme.
Instead, if you lower the heating at the wall by just one degree, you can save hundreds of pounds according to experts.
"Keep the thermostat down and at a steady temperature," says Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch.
"Turning the temperature down by just one degree could reduce your bills and potentially save you over £100 a year."
Boilers work at the same speed no matter what temperature the thermostat is set to, that's the same for the radiator pumping out the heat.
By setting it higher your central heating will just have to work for a longer period of time, which will use more energy.
Forgetting to bleed
Neglecting to bleed your radiators could stop them from running properly, so you could end up wasting energy heating nothing.
You should bleed your radiators regularly as it will stop them from having cold spots, where air gets trapped inside.
You'll need a radiator key or a flat-blade screwdriver to do it, but's it's an easy enough fix that will mean your home is warm once more and your costs are kept down.
Ignoring the rest of your home
Will from Uswitch recommends looking at the other elements in your home that are stopping your radiator working to its best ability.
He said: "Fit curtains as well as blinds, as this prevents cold windows from cooling down the room.
"Curtains are a great option for preventing heat loss – remember to close them at night when it's colder and open them again when the sun comes out to let the heat back in."
The method means your radiator won't have to work over time heating a home that's losing as much as is being put out.
He also advised to keep your radiators obstruction-free – you should do that anyway to prevent any fire safety issues but the precaution can help reduce your bills too.
Will said: "Objects that are in the way can absorb some of the heat from your radiator – and one of the biggest culprits for this is the sofa."
What else can I do to keep my costs down?
There are plenty of other ways you can keep costs down while staying warm this winter.
You can save as much as £400 just by pulling on a jumper instead of reaching for the temperature gauge.
If you make sure things you aren't using that may be plugged into the wall are switched off, you save hundreds too.
You can also use home hacks to stop any draughty air that's going to tempt you to use more energy and heating – they only cost as little as £3 to install and will keep your toasty and able to enjoy your radiator being on.
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