Keeping your home cosy need not break the bank. Here are our top 10 frugal tips for keeping warm this winter:
Wonder where all your heat’s going? Light a candle and trace around your window edges, doors and vents – but make sure your curtains are out of the way. When the smoke starts going sideways you’ve found a draught. Window sealant tape is a cheap way to keep in the heat.
Don’t neglect the timer on your heat pump. Set it to come on at about 20 degrees an hour before you come home. You’ll make considerable savings compared to blasting it at 23 degrees all evening.
If your electric heater lacks a timer, you can buy a plug-in timer from as little as $10 from most hardware stores – they look like power adapters but have a digital interface allowing you to set appliances to come on up to seven days in advance.
Ensure your curtains and blinds fit snugly against the window frame. We’ve found this is more important than the material they’re made from. Floor-length curtains are better than sill-length curtains, which aren’t much better than no curtains at all.
Our testing found fan-less heaters (like oil-column models) often result in uneven, layered heat distribution. To avoid cold feet and a hot head, place a small desktop fan on the ground beside the heater. We found it helped an oil-column heater warm a room 3 times as fast.
Double-glazing doesn’t need to cost the earth. In fact, you can pick up DIY window insulator kits for under $15 per frame. All you need to do is cut the film to size and use a hair dryer to shrink it onto the window.
If you’re not worried about aesthetics, there’s an even cheaper way to stop heat escaping through your windows. Bubble wrap is a great temporary option, especially on internal windows in seldom-used areas. Secure it to the pane using Blu-Tack or double-sided tape, and make sure it sits flush against the frame.
Cat flaps are a major source of draughts. To improve the seal around the frame, unscrew the whole assembly, clean the area where it’s in contact with the door, then screw it back in tightly. Then add a thin line of silicone sealant around the frame. If draughts persist, stick some light rubber insulation tape on both sides of the flap.
A rug is a great way to add another layer of insulation, especially if you’ve got wooden or concrete floors. Putting down a thick rug in living areas will help prevent heat loss through the floor, especially if there’s no underfloor insulation.
Use pot lids when cooking. This can reduce the amount of moisture released into the air by three litres per day.