With winter firmly upon us, it's tempting to draw the curtains, whack up the thermostat and hunker down ‘til sunnier climes.

Trouble is, for most of us, spring will also mean painfully high energy bills.

Because although keeping warm inside a house away from the elements sounds easy enough, most people actually have no idea how to keep warm.

A survey by the Energy Saving Trust revealed that while four fifths of Britons believe they understand their heating controls, half misuse energy by turning up their thermostat.

[Read more: Feeling chilly? 6 things to do before you switch the central heating on]

We also think turning up the heating makes things hotter quicker, that the external temperature makes a difference, and that hot water needs to be constantly on – which, by the way, is all wrong.

Luckily, experts are on hand to put things right. “As the temperature begins to drop, it is important that we are aware of the best ways to stay warm this winter,” says Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust.

“Millions of householders are confused by their heating controls. But there are steps we can all take to deal with the current cold snap.”

We sort your heating fact from your heating fiction…

You should turn the heating up when it’s cold outside

Half (52%) of the people responding to the Energy Saving Trust survey said they turned the thermostat up when it’s cold outside, but a home shouldn’t need this as the thermostat is there to maintain the internal temperature, whatever the weather.

You should turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker

Over a third (35%) of people in the survey also admitted that they turn their room thermostat up when they want the room to heat up quicker.

“This does not help a room become warmer any quicker and only heats the home to a warmer temperature,” says the trust.

You should leave the heating on low constantly

It’s very common for people to think it’s more energy efficient to leave the heating turned on at a low temperature constantly, rather than turn it on and off. Wrong.

“This means these homes are heated when no-one is there to benefit and then the home is too cold when people are in the home,” the experts said.

[Read more: Stay warm this winter - 5 money-saving tips for efficient radiators]

Keep your water heater on all day so you don’t run out

If your hot water tank is properly insulated, water heated for half an hour in the morning should stay warm until midday.

It’s much better to set your water to come on for half an hour before you get up to shower.

Keep electric storage heaters on all the time

Our research also found that few people with electric storage heaters fully understand how they work (only 38%),” says the Energy Savings Trust.

“This means that households with electric heating could be paying through the nose by not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity.

To find out more visit www.gov.uk/warmthiswinter.