We know our Northern hemisphere neighbours scoff when we whinge about our blistering, 17-degree winters – but we also know that our draughty Aussie homes are more like glorified tents in the colder months!
It’s no wonder, then, that some of us this year are still reeling from our winter power bills, especially if we’ve been cooped up inside or working from home more often.
So, try out some of these tricks at home and you won’t need to pour yourself a glass of wine next time you open your electricity bill (no judgement). Plus, the planet will thank you!
Get a dehumidifier
The sweet spot for most of us is between 30 and 60% relative humidity, and higher moisture in the air means we’re colder in winter and hotter in summer. When we push moist air out of our homes our heaters work more efficiently, we’re more comfortable at lower temperatures and our walls are less likely to go mouldy. Boom!
Watch the windows
A sun-soaked room is a warm room, so keep windows open when the weather’s good and the sun’s facing the right direction. When it’s cloudy or dark, closed curtains reduce heat loss – the heavier the fabric, the cosier you’ll be.
Audit your appliances
Leaving the lights on when you’re not using them and keeping devices on standby all contribute to electricity bills that make us wince. We’re all spending more time plugged in to technology while we’re at home, but turning off your devices at the wall when you’re not using them could save you more than $100 annually!
In the kitchen our ovens are the energy drainers, but don’t let that heat go to waste! Leave the oven door open when you’re done cooking and wait for that toasty, warm air (and inviting aroma of casserole) to fill your home.
In the laundry, unless you’ve been rolling around in mud, your day-to-day wear probably doesn’t require a hot wash setting. All clothes can be washed on cold and for delicate fabrics, cold washing is even better. Go for hot if you’re washing grease stains, significant dirt or someone in your house is sick.
In the bathroom take shorter, or less scalding showers. Yep, this one’s a bugger! But you’ll have more time in the AM, and quick, cooler showers are even better for your skin.
If you’re flexible about when you use the washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven or any other energy vampires – electricity companies will charge you a lower rate at off-peak times.
Okay, we’re sure we’re about to sound like your mum or dad guarding the heater and telling you to “just put on a jumper”. But bear with us! Sometimes they have a point.
That being said, choose quality over fluff. Our winter jumper pick is wool for its insulation and moisture-wicking properties. Worried about scratchiness? Layer up underneath or go for merino wool. If you’re vegan, you should keep cotton, hemp and linen on your radar.
Bring out the hot water bottle
An oldie but a goodie! It’ll stop you from shivering in bed and keeping the heating on all night can be incredibly dehydrating – not to mention expensive. During the daytime, you can also curl up with one on the couch and use the water to top up your plants.
Let’s face it, those 70s single-glazed windows aren’t doing our winter wallets any favours. Many of us are revamping our homes at the moment, and if you’re renovating with energy efficiency in mind you can make brilliant long-term savings.
If you only have a bit to spend on energy efficiency, invest in good insulation. As heat rises, you should firstly concentrate on ceiling insulation, then the walls, and lastly the floor.
Next, figure out which rooms are warm and sunny in winter and cool in summer – these should be your communal areas. Make sure they’re sectioned off with doors so you can blast your heaters in a smaller space.
Lastly, if you haven’t switched to power-saving LED lighting… what are you waiting for?