10 tips for staying warm for less

Get the temperature up while keeping your power use down.

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Brace yourself. The worst storm of the year has landed and experts predict at least 2 more days of icy temperatures, howling gales and torrential rain.

Our top 10 energy-saving tips will help reduce your overall electricity consumption, meaning you won’t feel guilty for having a toasty home.

  1. Don’t fear the electric blanket: they cost little to run (just over $10 per winter if used every night), especially compared to electric heaters. But only sleep with it on if it has a delay timer that can switch it off after a few hours. And it’s important not to neglect heating your bedroom - the World Health Organization recommends keeping bedrooms at 16°C.

  2. Break out the crock pot: running a slow cooker all day uses a third of the electricity compared with cooking a roast in an electric oven for 2 hours.

  3. Check your heat pump filter: it needs vacuuming every 3 months. The good news is it’s easy – just slide the cover off the front of your heat pump, lift out the filter and hoover away. If you haven’t cleaned it all year, you’ll immediately notice the difference. You don’t need to pay for a pricey heat pump service to get this sussed.

  4. Clean your clothes dryer’s lint filter: don’t put your vacuum cleaner away just yet. Remove your clothes dryer’s lint filter, then give it a lux as well. This can significantly improve your dryer’s energy efficiency, thereby reducing its running costs.

  5. Draught-proof your home: are your door hinges loose or your window latches rattly? Grab a screwdriver and tighten them up. This reduces the chance of nasty draughts blowing through your home. If that doesn’t work, buy some vinyl strips that adhere to the insides of the window frames to achieve a better seal between the window and the frame.

  6. Cheapo double-glazing: you don’t have to be made of money to improve the heat retention of your windows - DIY window film, which fits across your frame and sits a little off the pane, can cost less than $10 per pane. You simply fit it to the frame to create an insulating layer of air between your room and the cold glass. Alternatively, taping bubble wrap to the window frames will achieve the same effect.

  7. Light smarter: switch from your old incandescent, halogen or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs to LEDs. They use far less energy and last much longer.

  8. Check your power deal: visit Powerswitch.org.nz to see if you could be getting a better deal for power elsewhere. If you’re on a spot-based tariff, consider switching for the winter to avoid the high spot prices currently experienced on cold winter evenings.

  9. Shower smarter: grab a 10L bucket, chuck it under your shower and start timing. If it fills in less than a minute, your showerhead is a water-waster. You can snag a low-flow, energy-efficient showerhead for less than $100.

  10. Revisit your childhood with a wheat bag or hot water bottle: it costs next to nothing to fill a hot water bottle or heat a wheat bag, and they’re a great way to keep the bed warm in a pinch. Consumer NZ’s marketing manager, a recent émigré to New Zealand, says she’s coping with the cold snap by chucking a wheat bag on her shoulders as she potters about the house. Whatever works.

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By George Block
Technical Writer

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