How to Keep Your Home Warm in Winter and Save on Your Energy Bill
Winter seems to have come early this year. Every day it seems like it’s getting colder and colder, people are more rugged up, heaters are being pulled from the cupboards, and electric blankets are frantically switched on at night. But this often means energy bills rise. Here are six ways to keep warm this winter, while saving a few bucks as well.
1. Cover your windows
The biggest culprit causing lost heat and energy can be found in most rooms of your home with almost 40% of heat escaping via uncovered windows. On top of this, heat from the sun is free, so why not make the most of it. Strong sunshine, especially in Australia, works great for natural heat in the cooler months. Make sure your curtains are open during the day to let the sunlight in but as soon as the sun starts to set, shut them. This adds another layer of insulation. If you have the choice, hang up some heavy, tightly-woven, lined curtains that extend beyond the frame and try to make sure there are no gaps, that way there’s nowhere for the cold air to come through or the warm air to escape.
If you don’t want to use curtains or blinds in a particular room, an excellent trick is to cover your windows with clear plastic film. This still lets the natural light in (and the view if you have one) but will keep the warmth inside and avoid the cold air coming in. The film is simple to put on and won’t harm your windows or any trim if installed correctly.
2. Check your insulation
A well-insulated home can use up to 45% less energy when it comes to heating and cooling, so it pays to check that your insulation is up to standard. This may come at an upfront cost but it’s well worth is as the insulation will pay for itself with cheaper energy bills.
3. Seal up
You’d be surprised how many gaps and cracks are around the everyday home. In fact, gaps in seals, windows, screens and doors account for almost one quarter of heat loss.
Check the weather stripping around all doors and ensure the caulking around the doors and windows is up to scratch to cut down on draughts. And believe it or not, that little gap between the floor and door is just asking for air to come through. A simple fix is to purchase or make a door snake. If you’re after a quicker solution, simply roll up a towel.
Additionally, check any air vents. This is especially true for older houses. These can be expertly sealed in or if you want something less permanent, simply pop some cardboard or timber in front of the vent.
Finally, take stock around the house of the external pipes and cables that are entering your home. Often, these aren’t sealed effectively and are actually letting cold air in. Seal the gaps with caulk or expanding foam (both can be purchased from a hardware store). And remember to check these regularly.
4. Use timers
You don’t need your heat running all day if you’re not in the house. Even if you are at home, if your heating source isn’t run on a thermostat, it can get a little too toasty if it’s on all the time. Enter timers. It’s been said that popping your heater on 30 minutes before you need it at a lower temperature is actually more cost effective than switching it on as soon as you need it at a higher temperature. So set a timer for it to come on half an hour before you wake up and half an hour before you get home. This means it’s warm when you need it.
Additionally, there’s no need to set the temperature higher than 21 degrees. While this may seem cold, it’s actually the optimal temperature for winter. If your heater doesn’t have a thermostat, use a thermometer to determine the temperature in the room. When it hits 21 degrees, switch the heating off.
5. Reposition your furniture
While the air temperature is the same throughout your home, where you are positioned can drastically change how cold or warm you feel. First, ensure that all heating vents are not covered by furniture. While it may feel fantastic to be seated right next to the heater, by blocking it’s path you’re actually absorbing heat that should be circulating throughout the room. Also, consider placing your furniture away from external walls. Even though the inside of the home is warm, all external walls will still be cold so the closer you are to them, the colder you may feel. This goes for beds, desks and couches.
6. Rug up
This goes for you and your home. Many Australian houses have floorboards, tiles or concrete floors and these only add to the cold inside. Rugs are a wonderful accessory, not just for decorating but for keeping warm as well – plus your feet will thank you!
Also, and this one may seem a tad obvious, dress for the weather. You may be indoors with the heating on but that doesn’t mean you can get away with shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 15 degrees outside. Make sure at least one layer is skin tight to retain your body heat. This means you’re not relying on the heating when you’re indoors.
Finally, invest in warmer bedding and perhaps some blankets for the couch. Again, it means your heater can be on a comfortable temperature without overdoing it and costing you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary heating bills.