As the mercury drops many Australians are bunking down, cranking up the dial on heating systems and unintentionally sending bills soaring. But there are a few clever ways to cut costs of keeping cosy and potentially add value to your home.
Don’t let heat escape unnecessarily
To stop heat escaping from your house – and make heating more efficient – insulate ceilings and walls, shut windows and doors, seal under doors and keep all doors closed to unused areas. Roof insulation can save you up to 45 percent on your heating and cooling costs. External wall insulation and even installing high insulating windows will further increase energy savings.
Drawing curtains and blinds at night, and allowing sunlight in during the day, can also help to trap warmth.
If you have ceiling fans, adjust the blade rotation to push the rising warm air back down to where you need it. Even if your ceiling fans can’t be reversed, they can still help to mix the air.
You should also learn to love your socks and add layers not just to your body but by putting down non-slip rugs on timber or tiled floors.
Any appliance with a flashing light will be costing you money to run. If it’s switched to stand-by mode, it may still be costing you more than you think. Origin Energy says the average Australian household spends around $180 each year on standby power, which is wasting over $1 billion each year overall.
The best thing you can do to help reduce this amount is to always switch appliances off at the wall. There are lots of other ways to reduce your energy bills even further with very little effort, so you’ll be able to stash the extra cash into your savings account and reap the rewards.
Lower the thermostat
Set your thermostat cooler in winter and warmer in summer to save costs. According to Origin, the optimal temperature for winter is 18°C – 20°C degrees. You likely won’t notice a huge difference if you turn it down just a few degrees, a move that can shave 5 percent to 10 percent off your heating bill. It’s especially wise to turn down the heat whenever you leave your home for several hours.
When it comes to choosing the best heater, Origin recommends minimising your use of portable electric heaters – they consume 2.4kW per heater which potentially will add hundreds of dollars to your winter electricity bill. Oil-filled heaters are well suited for bedrooms, because they have low surface temperatures and enclosed elements.
Tap heat that’s there already
There are plenty of activities you do around the house that generate warmth, such as cooking a meal or taking a shower. When you shower, keep the bathroom door open so steam spreads to other rooms, and don’t turn a ventilation fan on; it will rapidly remove the warm air you’re hoping to keep around.
Think beyond the house and to the home loan
While the above tips could potentially shave a few hundred dollars off your utility bills this year, homeowners could find more significant savings by looking beyond their homes and to their home loans this winter.
With interest rates at record lows and freeing up some money in the household budget, many Australians are adding extra repayments to their mortgages. RateCity shows that adding just $50 extra per month to the typical $300,000 home loan could potentially save borrowers $36,000 and see them pay off their loan more than 2 years early. To see how much you could save by adding to your loan, or by refinancing into a lower rate mortgage, use a home loan calculator such as the one at RateCity.