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But with a few changes around your house and in your habits, you can avoid the annual spike over winter. And it doesn’t mean you have to shiver your way through the coldest months of the year, either.
Ditch the electric blanket in favour of a hot water bottle. You can pick one up for as little as $10, and it can provide you with a winter’s worth of warmth in bed. To save even more money, get smart about when and how you boil the water for your bottle. Do it when you make an evening cuppa to save having to use the kettle twice.
An extra layer of clothing can make all the difference in winter. Start at your feet, with a pair of thick woolly socks and some ugg boots. Then, put on a jumper if you’re cold! It’s surprising the number of people who hang around their homes in a t-shirt in winter – with the thermostat cranked up to 23 degrees.
Did you know that every time you increase your heating by a single degree, you add 10 per cent to your heating bills1? Think of the money you can save by turning your heating down! And it’s not just that. Be smart about how you use heating in your home. Close off rooms that don’t need to be heated, like spare bedrooms or the office. If you can, bunker down in a smaller living space over the winter months – it’s a lot easier and cheaper to heat a small space than to try and keep your whole house warm.
As anyone who has done middle-school physics knows, hot air rises. And as this precious warmth heads to the ceiling, cold air is drawn in through any cracks or gaps around your doors and windows. This means your heating is constantly working to warm up this cold air. Spend some time before winter making sure that all your window seals are tight. Door snakes are a tried and true method of stopping the cold air from sneaking in under doorways, too.
When it’s freezing cold outside, it can be tempting to idle away 20 minutes under a steaming hot shower. If you want to save money, you have to be strong here! Hot water is a huge guzzler of electricity (unless you’ve got a solar or gas system). It might be more economical to turn on a heat lamp in your bathroom to warm the room up – rather than spending those extra minutes under the hot water.
Yes, clothes dryers are convenient. Particularly when you’ve got a mountain of the kids’ muddy sports clothes to get through. But dryers use a lot of electricity, and there are simple ways to dry your clothes without them. If it’s a windy day, let the air do the drying for you. If it’s too wet outside, use a clothes horse near (but not too close to) the heater. Or, get creative and use a pulley to hang clothes on a rack up near the ceiling – where the air is warmest. Your clothes are out of the way up there, too!
It’s something you should do all year round, but perhaps more so in winter. That is, turn off appliances that you’re not using. In winter, try not to fall into the trap of sitting idle on the couch with the TV on, your tablet in your lap, and your phone beside you. All these devices chew up power. Instead, switch them off and pull out a jigsaw puzzle or a board game. Or go for a brisk walk in the late afternoon sunshine. Your mind, your body and your bank balance will thank you for it.
An iSelect-commissioned Galaxy survey of over 1100 people found that 31 per cent of households are on standard energy plans without discounts2, despite the fact that many electricity providers now provide discounts and incentives to customers.
2. In April 2016, iSelect commissioned a nationally representative consumer research study with Galaxy Research to assess the attitudes of over 1100 Australian household decision makers towards energy.