10 smart ways to keep your bills down this winter

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As the mercury drops, bills usually rise as we crank up the heater and take longer showers to keep warm.

But your energy bill doesn’t have to make you weep. There are a few smart ways to keep your energy bill low this winter.

1. Switch your ceiling fan to winter mode

In summer, your ceiling fan should rotate counter-clockwise. In winter, reverse it so it spins in the opposite direction. This prevents a chilly downdraught and pushes the warm air trapped near the ceiling down to the ground.

Check for a reverse button on your remote or a toggle switch on the ceiling fan itself.

To switch a ceiling fan to winter mode, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the fan by flipping the switch or using the remote control.
  2. Change the direction of the blades by locating the switch or toggle on the fan body or remote control that changes the direction of the blades.
  3. Set the blades to rotate in a clockwise direction. This creates an updraft that pushes warm air near the ceiling down into the room.
  4. Turn the fan back on to the desired speed.

Note: The winter/summer mode switch direction may vary among different ceiling fan models, so refer to the fan’s manual for specific instructions.

2. Check your home for draughts

A typical house can lose approximately 10-20% of heat through windows and 35% through the ceiling. To compensate for heat loss, you may run your heater more often and at a higher temperature.

Here are some steps you can follow to check your home for draughts:

  1. Check windows and doors: Look for gaps around window and door frames, and check for cracks in the seals.
  2. Inspect electrical outlets and light switches: Use your hand to feel for cold air coming through the gaps.
  3. Check the attic and basement: Look for any holes or gaps in the insulation or around vents, chimneys, or pipes.
  4. Test your windows: Hold a lighter or a piece of incense near the window frame to detect any air movement.
  5. Check for air leaks around chimneys and vents: Use caulking or weather stripping to seal any gaps.

If you detect any drafts, you can fix them by using draft stoppers, weather stripping, or caulk to seal any gaps. This can help improve your home’s energy efficiency and reduce heating costs.

Sealing doors and windows, using door snakes, and improving the insulation in your ceiling can keep your home several degrees warmer.

3. Layer up

Of course, you don’t want to walk around like the Michelin Man, but layering your clothing and wrapping up in blankets is one easy way to keep warm without putting a heater on.

4. Use a humidifier

Did you know that dry air feels cooler than moist air? Moisture doesn’t add heat to air, but it does make it feel warmer. That’s why 30°C in a humid climate feels hotter than 30 degrees in a dry climate. By using a humidifier, you can add some moisture to the air.

5. Use high-energy appliances during low-peak times

Washing machines, dryers, and ovens are some of the most energy-draining appliances in the home. Some utility companies offer time-of-use rates at certain times of the year. They may charge more if you run your high-energy appliances during peak hours and/or less if you use them during off-peak hours.

6. Close doors to rooms you don’t use

Close doors and air vents in the rooms you don’t use and direct heat to only the rooms you are using. If you use a space heater, shut the door of the room you are in to prevent heat escaping and cold air entering.

7. Keep your showers short

It’s tempting to stay in a hot shower for longer than necessary in winter, but the longer the shower, the more energy you use. In most households, hot water accounts for around 21% of the energy bill.

8. Lower your thermostat by a few degrees

Central heating and air conditioning systems can be huge energy suckers. In winter, heating can account for 30-40% of your energy bill. The higher the temperature, the more energy you use. Try to keep your thermostat between 18 and 20 degrees. Every degree below 20℃ can shave nearly 10% off your heating bill.

9. Make use of passive solar heat

Australia has a sunny climate, so make the most of the sun during winter. If you’re building a new home, incorporate passive solar heating principles in the design.

  • Use materials such as concrete, tile, brick, stone and earth that are most effective at absorbing and storing heat.
  • Place windows where it receives the most winter sun. Before sunset, draw the curtains to retain the heat for longer.

Passive solar heating plus good insulation will keep your home so warm and comfortable, you won’t need to use a heater as often.

10. Wash clothes in cold water

Lightly soiled clothing doesn’t need a warm wash. To save energy, run the cold wash and choose the shortest cycle. Then dry your clothes outdoors — once again, making use of that Aussie sunshine!

Winter doesn’t have to equate to sky-high energy bills. These are just some smart ways you can stay warm while reducing your home’s running costs.

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