In this article
- Find out what winter energy saving ideas and practical tips you could be implementing in your home to decrease your expenses!
- When should you buy and when should you repair your appliances?
- How often should you clean and maintain your heating systems?
- What is the difference between gas and electrical heating? Which one is the best fit for you and your home?
- Want to learn more money saving tips? Check out our articles, about maximising your water efficiency, the Tasmanian Government energy saver loan scheme, saving for a house deposit, and our helpful savings tracker!
As winter sets in, we reluctantly move from summer shorts and thongs to winter woollies and thermals and turn to our electrical heating to stay warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this can also lead to higher bills due to inefficient heaters, appliances and poor insulation.
To combat this, we have some helpful tips to improve energy efficiency and lower costs. So, sit back and enjoy a more comfortable home without breaking the bank!
Winter energy saving ideas
A well-insulated home
Did you know that a well-insulated home can reduce your energy use by up to 45% or more! Having your roof, walls and floors insulated will provide a more comfortable home and can reduce condensation on your windows all year round.
You can also insulate your hot water pipes, reducing heat loss and raising the water temperature. Doing this can lower your water temperature setting and save energy annually.
Insulating with furnishings
Insulation doesn’t have to be boring. You can revamp your rooms by investing in rugs for bare floors or insulating curtains in regularly used rooms. These additions not only change the feel of the space but can also prevent heat from escaping your home.
Rugs can store heat about 10-12% better than hard surfaces and, therefore, are a cost-effective way to reduce heat loss in your home.
Seal the draughts
Simply sealing any cracks or gaps in your home can decrease heat loss. You don’t want your money slipping through the cracks, so arranging to seal any gaps in your windows, doors, and floors is essential.
Walk around your home and check for draughts from your windows and doors. You can seal gaps in doors and windows using self-adhesive foam or rubber strips to seal doors and windows, install weather-proof door seals, or purchase a door snake as an inexpensive fix to stop draughts from coming through the front or back door.
Close and open the curtains
A great way to save money and maintain the heat in your home is to close your blinds or curtains just before the sun goes down and re-open them in the morning, allowing the morning sun to stream into your home and heat each space.
Combining opening the curtains and using the air conditioner at a constant temperature will also help to prevent condensation on your windows, or at least dry the condensation that has developed overnight as soon as possible.
Get warm without turning up the heat
If you want to cut down on your winter heating bills, there’s no point cranking the heater to a balmy 25°C and wandering around the house in your singlet and shorts. Rather than focusing all your energy on warming up your home, focus on keeping yourself cozy.
Invest in some woollen socks and slippers, layer up with warm clothing and enjoy hearty winter meals that will warm you up from the inside out. Take some time to relax under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, and wrap yourself up in fresh flannel sheets, a warm wheat pack, and a feather-down comforter before heading to bed.
Opt for off-peak
Knowing your supplier's peak and off-peak times is important to avoid high bills. For example, Aurora's Residential Tariff has peak periods from Monday to Friday, 7 am - 10 am and 4 pm - 9 pm, and off-peak periods from 10 pm - 7 am on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends.
To save money, consider running your dishwasher after 10 pm or waiting until the weekend to do your laundry. These small changes can help you use power at a lower rate regularly.
Invest in a heat pump hot water system
Heat pump hot water system is an energy-efficient design that uses renewable energy to heat your water without the need for solar panels. Absorbing the heat from the surrounding air, the system heats your water.
All systems go – or are they?
Buying cheap or less energy-efficient appliances could cost you more in the long run. If your appliances work harder than needed or are not energy efficient, your energy bill will be higher.
Instead, when purchasing a new appliance, consider both the price tag, the energy efficiency level of the appliance you are buying, as well as the length of the life warranty. Over time the amount of money you save could pay for the extra cost of a more energy-efficient and longer-lasting appliance.
Run appliances on the eco setting
The eco setting on appliances has been found to deliver the lowest energy consumption across brands and models. Furthermore, the default quick washing programs consume 20-30% more energy than the eco settings, and temperatures above 30°C can increase the energy use by 30% or more.
Combining a lower temperature of the water, eco mode and using an effective detergent will save you money on your energy and water bills.
Run a full washing load
Try to avoid running a washing load that is half full or has only one or two items. Did you know that the average laundry basket is only 3.5kg? Many washing machines' weight limit is much higher, so make sure to fill your washing machine up!
While saving money by doing fewer loads, consider putting the wash on the cold setting. When washing your clothes, a lot of energy is used to heat the water. Even if you wash half your loads with cold water and the other half with hot, you will be halving your washing machine’s hot water energy usage!
Maintain your appliances
How you use and maintain each appliance can impact your energy bill. Get a professional to check your heating and cooling systems to improve energy efficiency and air quality. A dirty filter means your heat pump is working harder, ultimately increasing your energy bill.
Checking each appliance works efficiently will ensure unnecessary energy isn’t being used. Consider your refrigerator; if it has an ineffective seal, cool air will escape resulting in the appliance working harder to maintain the set temperature.
Buy instead of repair
Consider investing in a new appliance if the repair is more than 50% of the price of a new one. What you save with a new, more energy-efficient appliance will likely pay off the extra expense in no time!
Many appliance brands have significantly improved their energy efficiency in recent years - possibly using 40-60% less energy than older models. Therefore, finding out the difference in energy efficiency between your appliance and a new one could potentially lower your electricity bill.
Ditch your additional appliances
Take a walk around each space in your home. Look at each appliance, is it really needed, and is it being used? On average, appliances on standby can contribute to up to 10% of your electricity bill, so looking out for appliances that do not need to be plugged in or ones you can sell on the marketplace could save money.
Consider whether you need the additional fridge in the garage, the ancient plasma sitting in your spare room, or the desktop computer in ‘sleep’ mode sitting in your study gathering dust while you use your laptop.
Turn off non-essential appliances at the switch
For appliances you want to keep and use, but are not using regularly, ensure to turn off at the switch to prevent unnecessary energy from being used.
Control the thermostat
There are many benefits to keeping your air conditioner running throughout the day and night at a reasonable temperature. On average, air conditioner companies recommend that you keep your air conditioner running between 18 and 20 degrees for cost, comfort and efficiency.
Running your air conditioner all day and night means you can keep all spaces inside your home at the same temperature, never dropping below 18 degrees, which helps prevent condensation and mould.
Keeping your home at a constant temperature also prevents you from wanting to set your air conditioner above 24 degrees to heat your house quickly. Every degree higher adds to the cost of your bill.
Actionair recommends “the ideal winter night temperature for adults is between 15.6°C and 19.4°C, and for babies, it is between 20°C and 22.2°C.”
Give your heating system a yearly checkup
We are constantly reminded how important cleaning and maintaining our heating system is when we get our own systems checked.
From watching our and our client’s air conditioners and heating systems being cleaned and maintained, we see first-hand how dirty and dusty these systems can be. Our property managers highly recommend that you regularly check your machines to ensure they are working correctly and using less energy.
Your health and safety are important, and therefore, regular maintenance to keep the air you breathe clean is of utmost priority.
Reverse your ceiling fans
If you have ceiling fans, you can use them to help distribute the warm air more efficiently. Hence, you can run your ceiling fans during winter to improve the heat distribution in the room, allowing you to turn the thermostat down and consume less energy. It is recommended that you only turn the fan on if you are using the space to ensure optimal usage of your fans.
Take shorter showers
On average, 25% of household electricity consumption comes from heating water! Consequently, looking at how long we are in the shower and reducing the time will help to save on our electricity bill!
Not only is this a great winter energy saving idea, but if you reduce your shower to 4 minutes daily, you can save 24 litres of water per shower and could save an average of $200 a year on energy bills!
Install a low-flow shower head
If you are looking to save on your energy bills even more, switching to a water-saving low-flow shower head is an easy step. This will help reduce your hot water consumption, which is high when you shower.
Use LED light bulbs instead of CFL or incandescent
The most energy efficient type of light bulb is the LED. It wastes very little energy on heat, concentrating electricity on light production. Incandescents waste the most energy. CFLs are not all that much better, releasing 80% as heat.
Gas heaters vs electric heaters
Both gas heaters and electric heaters have their pros and cons. For example, electric heaters are more likely to be cheaper to buy upfront and allow for both portable and fixed installations. On the other hand, gas heaters are more expensive to purchase but are more energy efficient and generally much cheaper to run.
When considering gas heating, you should also research the difference in the cost of operating natural gas (LNG) that uses home-supplied gas by pipeline compared with buying bottled gas (cylinders), called liquified petroleum gas (LPG). This price may also differ between companies.
In general, LNG and LPG have different energy content, gas and air mixes for combustion as well as working pressure. Therefore, LNG is likely to be cheaper to buy than LPG. However, LPG is considered to have more than double the energy content of natural gas, making it more efficient and cheaper overall.
To learn more about LNG and LPG and the difference, click here.
You may also want to consider the following questions when deciding between gas and electric heaters:
- How healthy is your budget? Can you afford to purchase a more expensive product?
- What is the size of the space you want to heat? Which will be more practical, energy-efficient, and suited to the space and size you have to heat?
- Do you want to use the appliance for both heating and cooling?
Choose a heater to suit your space
When it comes to energy efficiency, it is crucial to choose a heater to suit the size of your room. Buying a heater for a small space that is large and equipped to heat a ballroom will use unnecessary energy and push your electricity bill higher than it needs to be.
You may find that a small electric energy-efficient heater is perfect for your office, while an electric radiant heater is perfect for the large loungeroom with high ceilings. In contrast, gas wall heaters can be a great economical option for a variety of space sizes.
Another option is to heat the whole house using gas-ducted heating, which can be the most cost-effective method in the long run.
The most crucial step to take when considering winter energy saving ideas is to take a step. Whether you bookmark this page and start ticking off each idea or decide to buy a timer so you can have shorter showers, by taking one step, you are lowering your energy bill and carbon footprint.
Would you also like to read our tips on maximising the water efficiency in your household?