Winter is here and with it the fatter than usual electricity bills as you try to make a warm, snug nest in your home.
As the winter chill hits and the daylight hours become shorter we are more likely to scurry home and put the heater on rather than head out for after-work drinks or go for a weekend outing with family. That means more time at home with lights on and electricity meter ticking.
Wondering why your winter bill is so high? 40% of your power bill accounts for heating your home and another 21% is for your hot water system. Because keeping warm is so essential to our health and lifestyle, we don't recommend shivering away to keep the costs down, rather than wait out the chill or throw your money away, here are some handy ways to help save on your energy bill and still enjoy your winter hide-a-way.
1. Cover windows
Glass is essential for your home, to enjoy the views and also to let in light and be opened for air. Unfortunately, glass absorbs temperature very easily meaning that as much as 40% of the heat in your home will be lost through absorption. Rather than hold that heat in, your window panes will promptly deliver that heat to the cold outside. The best practice to secure your windows is to get double glazing. It is an expense so you might want to target the family rooms or bedrooms as a priority, although it will be worth it if your home is especially hard to heat. Double-glazing will also help keep your home cool in summer and significantly reduce noise. If you aren't in a position to get double-glazing, make sure your windows close well and tight and draw blinds and curtains closed to help stop the heat-leak effect. Thick curtain materials will work best to provide a buffer between the air in the room and the glass. If you have exterior shutters it's best to close these as well as night falls.
Maintaining your room temperature also comes down to correct insulation. Depending on the age of your home you may need to consider checking and replacing the existing insulation.
Insulation checks are usually obligation-free and will include the roof, floors and walls. As well as traditional bats and foils, you can also look at getting sustainable fibre insulation made from recycled materials.
3. Close doors
Isolating your heat and your family to one or two rooms is the best way to cosy up and save money. Heating your whole home will cost a lot more, and if you don't have central heating, it may be a job too big for a room heater. Instead, determine the best heat sources and the most used rooms in the house and close everything off. Find ways to make your together time memorable by rotating through activities everyone loves, board games, cards, movies, even homework can become fun when everyone comes together.
4. Block drafts
Little gaps make a big difference to your overall room temperature. The gap under the door or any cracks in the floorboard make it a lot harder for the room to achieve and maintain a warm temperature.
Draft stoppers are available from hardware stores, variety shops and supermarkets for under $10 and come in a range of novelty styles to suit your personality. It is a bit of an inconvenience to move them whenever you want to open a door, however, the difference to your power bill is worth it.
Your chimney, if you have one, is also a big draft factor, more so because cold air is often forced down the chimney, causing a backdraft. Consider getting a removable chimney stopper to put in place when the fireplace is not in use.
5. Check your heater
The type of heater you are using may be one of the biggest contributors to a higher electricity bill. Not all heaters are energy efficient. Bar and fan heaters are the most expensive to run and are really not very adapt at heating large spaces for hours at a time.
The most effective and economical heating is a ducted central heating system or floor heating. For those who don't have central heating, you will probably be using a room heater or portable heater. If so, look for electric or gas convector heaters as your first choice, or an oil-filled radiator or halogen heater as a second choice. These are still expensive compared to central heating but cost less than a bar heater to run.
6. Turn it down
We like to keep our homes quite toasty, far warmer than we'd normally like it to be on a summer's day. By turning the thermostat down on your central heating you'll reduce the gap between the outside and inside, making it easier for your heating to achieve and maintain optimal temperature. Every degree you dial down can save as much as 10% on your electricity bill. Look for a temperature between 18 and 20 degrees, which should keep you snug without costing you a fortune.
You don't have to sacrifice your hard-earned money to heat your home. You can heat your home with your smarts and save you dollars for more important things. So grab an extra rug and snuggle up with a hot drink and enjoy the cooler months, summer will be here before you know it!