1. Make a heating plan
Pumping the heat until you reach a balmy 25 degrees sounds great, but turning your house into a tropical paradise in winter could cost a fortune.
Consider where you need heat most. If you’re spending most of your time in an office or living room, plop down a room heater and run it when you’re in there. But if your whole house needs the boost, central heating could work out cheaper.
And while it’s tempting to go crazy with the thermostat, setting it for 18–20 degrees celsius is efficient and enough to take the chill off. Every extra degree could add about 10% to your heating bill, so decide if it’s really worth it.
2. Insulate everything – including yourself
Heat has an annoying tendency to sneak out through small cracks and unprotected surfaces. Rather than engaging in an expensive cold war by cranking the heat, do some simple insulation:
- Place door snakes to plug cracks;
- Use heavy fabric blinds and curtains to block draughts;
- Add seals around doorframes;
- Wear an extra jumper or thermal socks;
- Drape a blanket around yourself when sitting for long periods;
- Close doors to rooms you aren’t using and cover floors with rugs.
3. Invest in efficiency
Heaters are pricey and it’s hard to justify buying a new one when your gas one from a decade ago is still running. But older or cheaper appliances tend to be very inefficient, meaning they consume more energy for the same heat output.
If your heater is old or needs replacing, it’s a good time to invest in a new one with a high efficiency rating. They’ll probably cost more upfront, but save you money in the long run.
4. Other ways of staying warm
Here are a few things you can use as an alternative to your gas or electric heater that will consume less energy.
- Hot water bottles or heat packs for your bed at night;
- Electric blankets are a very cost-effective means of warding off the cold. Research shows that an electric blanket costs approximately $12 to run over winter, whereas heaters can set you back $400 or more depending on the type (from Finder's Winter heating costs page).
- Leave your curtains open on sunny days to let the heat in.
5. Hot water
No one can blame you for wanting to spend a few more minutes in the hot shower during winter, but hot water can make up around 30% of your energy bill (according to the government energy website). Apart from insulating the pipes in your house, cutting down on water use is the real way to drive down hot water costs.
Sure, shorter showers are one solution, but if you’re not quite ready to surrender that luxury there are still things you can do.
Running your washing machine or dishwasher on colder cycles can save tons of energy, as can buying appliances that are rated more water-efficient in the first place. Buying a more efficient showerhead can slice the water used in half.
Basically, anything you do to reduce hot water use serves double duty, dropping your energy bill as well.
6. App control
Many people leave their heaters on when they aren’t even home, desperate to avoid coming back to a cold house.
If you have a taste for technology, you can grab apps that let you program devices in your home or trigger them remotely. For example, you can set your heater to turn on when you get within a certain radius of your house, say, 15 minutes before you arrive. This can prevent hours of unnecessary heating.
Sam Baran is a tech and utilities writer at Finder