It’s that time of year again when the temperature starts to drop and you find yourself reaching for an extra jumper to wear even while inside. So how can you keep your home warm and toasty without breaking the bank?
Prune your plants
How can gardening help your heating bill? No, this isn’t a way to warm you up over winter (although this is an added bonus). Pruning the shady plants that overshadow north, east and west-facing windows can let in extra sunlight, which is a great way to warm up your house. Pruning on the south side won’t help the sun to warm your home the natural way, but it will let in extra light, making a big difference in a gloomy room.
Track down and seal draughts
“Tracking down the draughts in your home and sealing them up will keep your home warmer, and help you save money on energy bills,” says CHOICE heating expert Chris Barnes. “If you’re having trouble detecting where the draughts are in your home, light a candle or incense stick and run it along the gaps under doors and around windows. A draught will become obvious as the flame flickers or smoke blows around.
“There are a few ways that you can seal up any draughts you find in your home. You can buy weather seal tape or draught strips from your local hardware store to fill gaps, or you can use a good old-fashioned door snake.”
Take advantage of the sun
Keep window coverings open on the north, east and west sides of your house during the day when the sun is out – it’s surprising how efficient the sun is at heating an otherwise chilly room. Just make sure to close them at night so you don’t let the precious heat escape.
Swap your window coverings
Up to 40 per cent of heating energy can be lost through your windows. Try thicker curtains with pelmets – these are great at stopping the heat from escaping over the top of the curtain. You can always swap the thick curtains for something lighter when summer comes around again.
Use your ceiling fan
Did you know that your ceiling fan has a winter or reverse setting? There’s usually a small switch on the side, just above the blades. Use your fan to push the hot air produced by your heating system downwards.
“Our lab tests found that using your ceiling fan in reverse means that your heater has to do far less work – which means lower power consumption, and lower bills,” says Mr Barnes.
Keep unused spaces closed
The smaller the space you have to heat, the lower your heating bill is going to be, so keep doors to rooms you rarely use closed. For example, seal off the guest bedroom or formal dining room by using draught excluders to stop heat from escaping under the door.
Keep the temperature low
Your heating bill increases by approximately 10 per cent with every degree you increase your thermostat. Try leaving it at 21 degrees, instead of 22, and remember that most people are more comfortable sleeping in a cooler house, so turn the heating down or off overnight.
Go back to basics
Firewood isn’t cheap in the city, but if you have easy access to firewood – perhaps you know a builder, or live in an area where it’s easier to come by – why not install a slow-combustion stove? You don’t have to pay to run it, and it gives off the most delicious heat. If you’re clever you can heat your whole house using nothing but a few logs per day.
Ask your energy provider for a better deal, or switch to a new one
“If you’ve been with the same energy provider for a while, it’s always a good idea to call and ask them if they can give you a better deal,” says Mr Barnes.
If not, compare electricity plans and switch to the best deal you can find.
Plan ahead with your purchases
If you haven’t already bought a heater, or are looking for a more efficient model, the end of financial year sales are a perfect time.
If you’re thinking of going for air conditioning, try to shop in the off-season. Don’t wait until it’s freezing cold or steaming hot to start making inquiries, it’s likely the installers will be less busy and you might pick up an off-season bargain.
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