It’s that time of year again; the mercury dips and we all hold our coffee cups a little tighter, throw rugs become more than decor and your doona seduces us for much longer than we would like to admit.
The chill doesn't have to be your cue to start hibernation though. With affordable heating solutions in every hardware or appliance store, and these simple efficiency tips on keeping your home toasty, you'll soon be on your very own winter wonderland of warmth.
There are many ways that you can remain toasty through the coolers months that don’t require the construction of pillow forts or attempts to bring back snuggies as day wear - not that we're judging.
Embrace window furnishings
Pelmets and scallops and linings – oh, my! Rather than being completely put off by the curtain fashions of days gone by, embrace the fact that insulated, lined and well-fitted window dressings will easily save you 40% more heat than undressed windows.
Heavy fabrics with an added rubber backing can be in any shade or style – even employing cellular blinds, a modern-honeycomb-looking style of blind, will add to your apartment’s décor, rather than detract.
Quality and custom-fit curtains or blinds are an investment and can definitely set you back more than a little foot heater but their heat saving powers will be demonstrated over and over again in your electricity and gas bills.
Maximise the effectiveness of any heat source
With the convenience of modern appliances as they are, the temptation to plug in an instant source of heat and go about our business is very real. However, unless you’re willing to foot an expensive bill for this convenience, learning to use heaters effectively will save you from bill shock.
Put on a jumper
Mum had it right all along. If you’re cold, put on a jumper. If you’re wandering your home barefoot, in boardies and a singlet, chances are you can save quite a bit on your heating bill if you rugged up.
Plug the draughts
If you’re unlucky enough to experience a cool draught in your home – whether from door or window cracks – there are many easy ways to counter their effects.
Draught excluders screw onto the bottom of the outside of your door and protect with rubber panels. Most are suited to entry and exit doors. Self-adhesive draught blockers come in tape form to adhere to the insides of door jams and window sills to minimise air circulation.
The humble door snake (and many variations) are made of breeze blocking materials and there’s not much else to tell. Not the most stylish of options, but they are easy to store and do their job well.
All three solutions can be found in most hardware stores.
Keep it (the temperature) on the level
Everyone who’s come home from the freezing cold has been tempted to run straight to their heater and turn it up to full blast. While this may be okay in the short term, having your heater at its maximum output for longer periods of time will only maximise your pain when the bill arrives.
While you’re at home, try to keep your plug-in or electricity-powered heat sources at an appropriate level; many energy efficiency sites say that 18-20 degrees is ideal.
Use the most appropriate heat source
Reverse cycle air conditioning/heating
Being an investment from anywhere between $700 to a few thousand dollars, this sort of heating and cooling solution is the type of investment you’d undertake as a homeowner, and even then, only with expert advice on what system would best suit your needs and living space.
Make sure you’ve contained the area you want to heat by closing doors to rooms that don’t need heating and ensure that you’ve chosen a reasonable temperature to be maintained. If you minimise heat loss throughout your house and use your heater effectively, reverse cycle heating is generally one of the more cost and energy effective options.
Without an obligatory gas outlet, this sort of heating may not even be available to you. But, if you do have an appropriate outlet and supplier, gas heaters can be a really effective way to warm your tootsies. If you’ve moved into a place with an older gas heater it may be worth investigating the cost of a newer unit to ensure that you won’t experience any negative side effects of an aging unit.
Electric heaters seem to come in all shapes and sizes and at every price point. With so much choice, it’s a good idea to conduct a little of your own research on what type of heater would be best for your situation. Sites like Choice, appliance retailers and Whirlpool forums are great sources of information on other people’s experiences with heaters you’re looking at purchasing.
While electric heaters have the lowest purchase price of any type of heater and are really effective at getting you nice and toasty relatively quickly, they are also energy guzzlers and can leave you with massive bills. Make a considered choice and try not to rely on your heater too strongly through the cooler months.