Simple Energy Saving Tips
Winter is well and truly here, and with it comes the dread of watching your household energy bills rise. To keep the cold at bay, you might crank up the heating, leave it running overnight, turn on the electric blankets, and take longer, hotter showers. While you might enjoy it at the time, the shock of seeing your winter energy bills can leave you feeling cold. However, there are some easy ways to make your home run more efficiently through the colder months. Not only will these tips save you money, but they’ll also reduce your household’s carbon footprint.
Plan Your Layout
In winter, it’s more important than ever to plan the layout of your furniture. While it might be tempting to place your couch or clothes rack right in front of the heat source, it’s far more efficient to free up that space so that the warm air can circulate throughout the room. That way, you won’t need to leave it on for as long.
Close All Windows, Curtains & Doors
While it might seem like an obvious one, YourEnergySavings estimates that up to 40 percent of heat in your home can leak out of open windows, so keep them shut tight especially when the heating is on.
Curtains also play an important role in keeping your home toasty. Keep them open during the day to let in the sunlight, but ensure to close them when it gets dark to keep the home well insulated.
Shut off all internal doors as well, especially those leading to bathrooms and laundries, which tend to be colder than the rest of the home.
Seal It Off
Install rubber seals, or even use a door snake to close off those cold draughts that find their way through cracks in windows and doors.
Heat Occupied Rooms Only
With a thermostat and zone control, you can heat just the rooms you’re using, resulting in a far more efficient use of your heating system.
Choose Winter Weight Bedding
Instead of leaving the heating on overnight, switch to a winter weight doona made of wool or natural down.
Keep the Temperature in Check
How you set the temperature will also affect your energy usage. YourEnergySavings recommends setting your thermostat to between 18-20 degrees Celsius. For every extra degree above this, you could increase your energy use by somewhere between 5 and 10 percent.
You may even like to choose a smart thermostat, which can be controlled from your smartphone. That way, you can tell it to turn off when you leave the house and switch on as you’re coming home.
Add Timers to Your Switches
Heated towel rails are an effective way of warming up and drying your towels, but they can be an unnecessary use of energy if left on all day. To ensure you don’t waste energy, consider purchasing a digital timer that lets you schedule when you’d like your towel rack to turn on or off during the week. Digital timers can be used on almost any appliance in the home – lights, coffee machines, washing machines, and most kitchen appliances.
Ditch the Dryer
Come winter, you may be tempted to use the dryer more often, but dryers are a massive waste of power. In fact, household appliances can contribute to as much as 33 percent of your overall household energy bill, so make wise decisions about your appliance usage. You should also switch off all wall appliances that aren’t in use, such as screens, phone chargers and printers.
Say Goodbye to Your Second Fridge
Did you know that running a typical second fridge can add as much as $300 a year to your power bill? That’s because many old fridges and freezers can use up to three times as much energy as newer appliances. Many local councils offer free disposal and buyback schemes to make ditching your second fridge easy. Contact yours to find out more.
Book in Regular Services
Get your heating and air conditioners checked regularly, and especially in the lead-up to winter. Systems that are clogged or dirty won’t work as efficiently as those that are well-maintained. Hot water boilers should be flushed regularly, and heating and cooling systems need to have their filters checked to ensure clean air is circulated throughout the home.
It Pays to Shop Around
Shop around for your energy provider – it’s worth the savings. Check if your provider offers Time of Use metering and whether they offer off-peak tariffs. Many providers also offer discounts, which they might not advertise up front, so be sure to ask directly.
You may be able to receive a discount if you pay your bill on time, or if you pay online. And with competition in the market so high, some companies offer newcomers a credit towards their new account.
For Victorian residents, the state government has a useful website that lets you compare prices between gas and electricity providers. If you have a recent bill, you can enter in details about our household energy usage, and the website will bring up a list of energy retailers with their features (such as discounts), contracts and price per year. If you do end up switching providers, take note of how many kilowatts you use each quarter so that you can compare like for like.
Go Off Peak
If your provider can charge you off-peak tariffs, then you can choose to have your hot water heated at quieter times, usually at night or over the weekend, when fewer people are heating water; or have your electricity charged at off-peak rates when there is less demand on the network.
For those looking to take their home efficiency upgrade a step further, there are some simple modifications you can make with the help of industry professionals.
Upgrade Your Boiler
If you’re keen to make a big difference to your bills and household’s carbon footprint, it’s a good idea to start with your boiler. Replace your electric hot water system with a solar one to heat your home’s hot water far more efficiently and affordably. While the initial outlay may be more expensive, you will experience significant savings over the long-term, and you’ll be kinder to the environment.
If you’re looking for a new heating option for the home, choose hydronic heating. Studies show hydronic heating to be up to 35% more cost effective than running a central ducted heated system. Whether you choose underfloor slab heating, radiator heating, or a combination of both, you’ll enjoy a more efficient heating method that will cut costs on your energy bills.
Hydronic heating is also a healthier heating alternative. Ducted and central heating can be breeding grounds for dust mites, allergens and bacteria that then circulate around the home, contaminating the air that you and your family breathe. Because hydronic heating works by natural convection through pipes, you’re eliminating any potential for harmful bacteria to enter your home.
Glaze the Windows
Double glazing your windows and skylights is another effective way of keeping the heat in during the cooler months. For existing windows, installing window films is another effective option.
Switch to Solar
Many Australian households are starting to see the value in going solar. Not only are solar systems affordable to install, but they can slash your power bills by anywhere between 50-95%.
Most providers will give you the option of installing solar panels with or without battery storage. The larger your battery storage, the greater your efficiencies, and the more energy-independent your household will be.
House of Home would like to thank Chris Marshall for providing the content for this article.
Chris Marshall is Sales & Marketing Director for Hunt Heating, a nation-wide provider of premium hydronic heating and cooling systems for homes and businesses. Established in 1982, Hunt Heating specialises in systems that are not only stylish and safe but also low-carbon and highly energy efficient.